Seahawks structure new deal with Leroy Hill, trade cornerback Josh Wilson
The Seahawks agreed to a one-year deal with linebacker Leroy Hill on Tuesday, traded cornerback Josh Wilson to Baltimore and acquired offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus from Detroit.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Leroy Hill's future appeared tenuous this month, the linebacker in danger of being cut out of Seattle's plans until he agreed to a new deal Tuesday for a lot less money and more short-term security.
That was just the first bit of Seahawks news on what amounted to the busiest day for Seattle's front office since April's draft.
Josh Wilson, who was competing to be a starting cornerback, was traded to Baltimore for a fifth-round pick in next year's draft. And Seattle acquired offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus, trading a late 2012 draft pick to Detroit to acquire the lineman Seattle tried to claim on waivers last week.
Seattle still has three days before cutting its roster to 53 players on Saturday, but the team is clearly starting to take shape. And it appears that Hill is going to be part of the team, something that was a serious question even though he was only in the second year of a five-year contract he signed with Seattle last year.
Hill will be suspended for the league opener for violating the league's policy on substance abuse, and he potentially faces more discipline after he was arrested in April and charged with fourth-degree assault following a dispute with his live-in girlfriend. Hill avoided trial earlier this month in Issaquah on the misdemeanor charge, which will be dismissed if he complies with all court stipulations for the next 18 months.
However, the NFL still might rule that he violated the league's personal conduct policy and is subject to further discipline. The contract Hill signed last year called for him to make $6 million in 2010, a salary that was guaranteed. However, those guarantees would have been voided if Hill faces discipline for the assault charge, and Seattle could cut him without owing him anything for the season.
Now, his contract has been reworked, his base salary reduced from $6 million to $2.125 million. Most of Hill's base salary is guaranteed, and if he meets all playing-time incentives, he could earn as much as $3 million this season.
The contract was also shortened. The contract expires after this season.
"Both sides just felt like we could come up with a solution," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. "Leroy's representatives did a nice job of figuring out a solution for the situation that Leroy was involved in."
Hill, 27, has been a starter for Seattle since midway through his rookie season in 2005. He began training camp working with the second-unit defense, but suffered a sprained knee the first week of practice and has not practiced since.
"We really like the way Leroy plays and we're looking forward to him playing for us," coach Pete Carroll said.
Of course, Seattle liked the way Wilson played, too, but that didn't stop the Seahawks from trading him to Baltimore.
"This is an opportunity for us that came along because of our depth and our situation at the cornerback position that we're very happy with," Carroll said.
Marcus Trufant has played extremely well, bouncing back after he was never really healthy last season. Wilson was competing with Kelly Jennings to start at right cornerback while Walter Thurmond — the rookie from Oregon — has recovered from a serious knee injury and will now step into a role as the nickel cornerback.
The biggest winner in the transaction might be Roy Lewis, the former Husky who played well, but was a potential casualty at final cuts. The Seahawks typically keep only four cornerbacks on the 53-man roster.
Wilson, 25, was a second-round pick in 2007, and he has started 23 games the past two seasons. Was a fifth-round pick enough compensation from Baltimore for Wilson, who was making a bid to start?
"What happens is the market is different at different times," Schneider said. "Randy Moss was traded for a fourth-round pick."
Wilson's contract has only one year remaining, meaning he is a free agent at the end of the season. The Seahawks believed their depth at cornerback was sufficient to warrant picking up an extra pick next year.
Polumbus became almost an afterthought to the frontline additions. Polumbus, 6 feet 8, 300 pounds, played the past two seasons with Denver, starting eight games in 2009. He was waived by the Broncos last week, and the Seahawks placed a waiver claim on him only to be trumped by Detroit's claim. The Lions had priority based on last year's record.
Seattle is thin at tackle with rookie Russell Okung recovering from a high ankle sprain and unlikely to play in the regular-season opener. Ray Willis is out after knee surgery, and while Chester Pitts has begun practicing, he is not expected to play in Thursday's exhibition finale in Oakland. That leaves Mansfield Wrotto the starting left tackle with undrafted rookie Jacob Phillips as his backup before acquiring Polumbus.
"We're in a very obvious intense need right here," Carroll said.
Polumbus has experience in the zone-blocking system. Jeremy Bates, who is now Seattle's offensive coordinator, was on the Broncos staff when Polumbus was a rookie there in 2008.
• Seattle signed DE James Wyche and placed CB Josh Pinkard on the non-football injured list. Pinkard, an undrafted free agent, is coming back from knee surgery.
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