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Seattle Seahawks

NFL free agency: Seahawks to bring back Leonard Williams, Noah Fant; let Jordan Brooks, others walk

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Leonard Williams pressures Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into an incompletion during the second quarter Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, at Lumen Field in Seattle.   (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

Finally, eight-and-a-half hours into the first day of the NFL free agency period, the Seahawks made their big splash, getting an agreement done with defensive lineman Leonard Williams.

Several outlets first reported that the deal is expected to get done, including The Bleacher Report, ESPN and the NFL Network.

The NFL Network reported that Williams has agreed to a three-year deal at an average of $21.5 million per season.

That would make Williams the highest-paid defensive player on a per-year average basis in Seahawks history.

The Seahawks acquired Williams last October in a grade with the New York Giants, giving up a 2024 second-round pick and 2025 fifth-rounder in return.

Williams played 10 games for the Seahawks last season and finished with a career high pass rush grade, via Pro Football Focus.

Seahawks president of football operations John Schneider said on his radio show on Seattle Sports 710 last Thursday that re-signing Williams was “a priority’’ and that the team had been in negotiations with him already.

“He’s definitely a priority for us,’’ Schneider said last Thursday. “… we’re trying to retain him, no doubt.’’

Schneider acknowledged then that what Seattle gave up for Williams would influence the team’s efforts to keep him.

“We went for it,’’ Schneider said of the trade. “Thought he was going to help change our defense. He played well. Unfortunately we didn’t make the playoffs. But he’s a guy we would like to keep in the mix. … he likes it here. We had a great exit interview with him (after the season) and we hope to retain him.’’

Williams, 29, was a first-round pick of the Jets out of USC in 2015, taken fifth overall.

Seattle Seahawks tight end Noah Fant laughs after a game against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 2 at Ford Field in Detroit.  (Tribune News Service)
Seattle Seahawks tight end Noah Fant laughs after a game against the Detroit Lions on Oct. 2 at Ford Field in Detroit. (Tribune News Service)

After seeing two tight ends leave, Seahawks re-sign Noah Fant

After seeing two of their top tight ends from last year — Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson — sign elsewhere earlier in the day, the Seahawks got one to stay home, agreeing to terms on a two-year deal with Noah Fant worth up to $21 million, a league source confirmed to The Seattle Times.

Parkinson agreed to terms with the Rams and Dissly with the Chargers. Those two and Fant took almost all of the Seahawks’ snaps at tight end in 2023.

Fant was the leading receivers among tight ends last year with 32 receptions for 414 yards, fifth on the team in receptions and fourth in yards.

The Seahawks undoubtedly are hoping that a changing in coaches, with former UW offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb taking over the offense on the staff of new head coach Mike Macdonald, will help Fant get back to the production of earlier in his career. He had 62, 68 and 50 receptions in the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Last year was Fant’s second with the Seahawks after coming from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade. While he has been in the league five years, he is just 26 years old.

Fant became the first of the 14 Seahawks who can become unrestricted free agents this week to agree to stay in Seattle.

LB Jordyn Brooks reportedly headed to Miami

Jordyn Brooks, the Seahawks’ first-round pick in the 2020 draft, is off to Miami.

Brooks has agreed to a three-year contract worth up to $30 million with the Dolphins, according to the NFL Network and other reports on Monday afternoon.

Brooks set a single-season record for tackles in 2021 with 183 in his second season with the Seahawks playing weakside linebacker, and took over the middle linebacking spot in 2022 following the release of Bobby Wagner.

Brooks suffered an ACL tear in a game on Jan. 1, 2023.

Despite that, he returned for the opening game of the 2023 season, moving back to weakside linebacker with Wagner back in the middle.

Brooks said after the season he hoped to remain with the Seahawks, but that he also would explore options.

The Seahawks could have picked up an option on Brooks for the 2024 season at a fully guaranteed $12.72 million last spring but did not, in part because of the uncertainty over his knee and health.

Brooks made $12.235 million during his four years with the Seahawks.

Brooks’ departure leaves Seattle’s inside linebacking corps in even more of question as Wagner and last year’s primary backup, Devin Bush, can also be free agents. An NFL Network report Sunday stated it is unlikely Wagner will be back, and Brooks’ departure may not change that as the Seahawks could be looking at cleaning house in the back end of their defense under new head coach Mike Macdonald.

That Brooks signed elsewhere may only increase speculation that the Seahawks are making a play for Baltimore inside linebacker Patrick Queen, who played there under Macdonald, who was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator the last two years.

Queen remains unsigned.

Brooks signed for what was almost exactly what Pro Football Focus projected as his value. PFF projected him at three years and up to $33 million.

If Wagner does not return, Seattle could be without three of its top four tacklers from a year ago with the Seahawks last week releasing starting safety Quandre Diggs.

Wagner led Seattle in tackles last year with 183, which led the NFL and tied Brooks’ team record, while Brooks was third with 111 and Diggs fourth with 95.

And the releases of Diggs and fellow safety Jamal Adams, the departure of Brooks and that Wagner may not be back would also basically mean an entirely new defense up the middle of the back seven for Seattle in 2024 other than safety Julian Love.