Seahawks make a big splash on second day of free agency
Seattle reaches agreements to sign veteran offensive lineman Robert Gallery and Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks departuresMatt Hasselbeck
New team: Tennessee
Comment: His exit from Seattle was sealed on Tuesday, but his destination wasn't revealed until Wednesday morning when an agreement with the Titans was first reported. Hasselbeck will receive a three-year contract worth roughly $21 million total, according to The Tennessean. Seattle's best offer to Hasselbeck included a raise from his salary last season. The sticking point for Hasselbeck was there weren't sufficient guarantees beyond that first season.
New team: Carolina
Comment: In three years as a Seahawk, he made 73 of 83 field-goal attempts, 87.9 percent. That was the best of any kicker in franchise history with 25 or more attempts, and Mare's Seattle tenure included a franchise-record streak of 30 in a row. Seattle applied the franchise tag to Mare last year, paying him $2.8 million. They decided against using the tag for a second consecutive season on Mare, who is 38. That gave Mare a chance to cash in as a free agent. His contract with Carolina will pay him $12 million over four years with $4 million paid up front, according to the NFL Network.
New team: New Orleans
Comment: Herring was a fifth-round pick in 2007 and played four years for the Seahawks, truly making his mark on special teams. New Orleans presents an opportunity for playing time, and his exit from Seattle was foreshadowed when the Seahawks drafted linebackers K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith to go along with starters Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry and David Hawthorne.
Pos: Wide receiver
New team: Washington
Comment: He signed with Seattle in the fourth week of the season because of his familiarity with Jeremy Bates, and Stokley quickly became a favorite target of Hasselbeck. Stokley caught 31 passes in the regular season and had 12 receptions in two playoff games. Bates is gone, so is Hasselbeck, and Stokley chose to go to Washington where he'll play for Mike Shanahan, the coach that brought him to Denver in 2007.
The Seahawks have spent more than a year looking for a top-shelf receiving threat.
They've been searching even longer for a left guard.
It took one day — and millions of dollars — for Seattle to try to answer both longterm concerns, agreeing to sign wide receiver Sidney Rice of Minnesota and offensive lineman Robert Gallery from Oakland.
The Seahawks were headliners on the second day teams could negotiate with free agents. They lost key special-team contributors like kicker Olindo Mare and linebacker Will Herring to a pair of NFC South teams, and learned former quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was headed to Tennessee.
Those departures were nowhere near as significant as the additions, though, as Seattle will be getting a young hot rod of a wide receiver from Minnesota and a road-grader of an offensive lineman in Gallery.
Seattle began looking at big-name receivers as soon as coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider began reshaping the roster last year. The Seahawks courted Brandon Marshall of Denver, bringing him to Seattle for a visit, before the Broncos traded him to Miami. Seattle was also interested in Vincent Jackson of San Diego, but the Chargers didn't end up trading him.
Rice is an unrestricted free agent, which meant Seattle didn't have to offer compensation to sign him. The Seahawks just had to pony up the loot, which they apparently did, offering Rice a five-year contract totaling $41 million, according to the NFL Network. Rice is assured of receiving $18.5 million, according to the report.
It's a big-budget deal, but not all that much bigger than the $40 million deal Seattle gave T.J. Houshmandzadeh in 2009. Of course, Houshmandzadeh was 31 then, Rice is 24. Houshmandzadeh's yards per reception declined in three successive seasons before coming to Seattle while Rice is just two years removed from a Pro Bowl season with more than 1,300 yards receiving.
Rice has a familiarity with Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who coached Rice in Minnesota, and at 6 feet 4, Rice could very well become a bona fide No. 1 wideout in the league.
Gallery is Seattle's latest attempt to plug the position that has been a black hole ever since Steve Hutchinson abandoned Seattle for Minnesota as a free agent in 2006.
Ten different players have started at left guard for Seattle over the previous five seasons, including four last year alone. Seattle tried a young lineman like Rob Sims and they signed veterans like Mike Wahle and Ben Hamilton.
Gallery comes with the best pedigree. He will sign a three-year contract on Friday once teams can formally file transactions. Financial terms were not known.
Gallery, 31, was drafted No. 2 overall to play left tackle. He moved to left guard four years ago and became known for his power as a run blocker. Tom Cable, Seattle's new offensive line coach, worked with Gallery in Oakland. In Seattle, Gallery will be the one veteran in an offensive line that has been almost entirely rebuilt since Carroll and Schneider took over.
The Seahawks drafted Russell Okung to play left tackle last year. They used their first two picks in this year's draft to choose James Carpenter to play right tackle and John Moffitt at right guard. Max Unger will be the center, but that quartet of projected starters has limited experience — just 27 regular-season starts between them.
That will change with Gallery's addition, Seattle's first move in what turned out to be a most significant day.
• Seattle reached an agreement to re-sign LB Matt McCoy to a one-year contract. McCoy was a special-teams mainstay last year.
• Seattle will sign kicker Wes Byrum, an undrafted free agent from Auburn, after losing Mare in free agency. Byrum kicked the game-winning field goal to beat Oregon in the BCS national title game last January.
Danny O'Neil: email@example.com
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