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Originally published March 13, 2012 at 7:19 PM | Page modified March 14, 2012 at 6:31 PM

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Seahawks re-sign Red Bryant

Deal for Seahawks' defensive end reportedly is for five years and $35 million.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Best possible way to spend the first day of free agency! The defense would have been... MORE
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The Seahawks didn't make any additions the first day of NFL free agency.

They did something even more important for their defense: They avoided subtraction by reaching an agreement to re-sign defensive end Red Bryant, who was an unrestricted free agent. A day that began with signs the New England Patriots were going to come after Bryant ended with Seattle retaining the player who has become a cornerstone of its young defense.

As for all the anticipation Seattle might be hot after Houston defensive end Mario Williams? Nothing doing on Tuesday. Those predictions the Seahawks would break the bank for Packers quarterback Matt Flynn? Not yet.

Instead, they focused on re-signing Bryant, who along with running back Marshawn Lynch was considered a priority.

Seattle's announcement of the agreement specified no terms, but it was a five-year contract worth a total of $35 million, according to ESPN. Seahawks officials were unavailable for comment, and Bryant could not be reached.

This transaction spoke for itself, though. In the past two years, Bryant has evolved from a defensive tackle on the fringe of the roster and in danger of being cut to becoming the highest-paid player of one of the league's young, rising defenses.

Bryant was drafted in the fourth round in 2008 out of Texas A&M, a big defensive tackle with a thick accent who was country strong though a bit top-heavy. Bryant underwent knee surgery his first training camp, and was nothing more than a situational player his first two years in the league, appearing in 10 of the team's 32 games.

After Pete Carroll took over as coach in 2010, the Seahawks moved Bryant from tackle to end during an offseason minicamp. Bryant said he thought he was about to get cut. Instead, it turned out to be a revelation.

Carroll said the first practice was intriguing, and by the second day the coaches knew they had something. The strongest player on the team, he stands 6 feet 4 and is more athletic than you'd think for a guy wishfully listed at 323 pounds. Witnesses testify to his ability to perform a 360-degree slam dunk.

At end, he set the edge of Seattle's defense, making it very difficult for opponents to run the ball outside. Just look at the Seahawks' run defense with Bryant over the past two years compared to how Seattle fared in the 9 ½ games he missed because of a knee injury (see chart).

There was no doubt of Bryant's importance to the team. The question was one of cost. He plays a position that commands a premium in the NFL because that's where the pass-rushers are. But Bryant isn't a pass rusher, and Seattle wasn't going to pay him the $10 million a year that elite pass-rushing ends can command.

That didn't mean Bryant wasn't important, though, and almost as soon as he dipped a toe into free agency, the two sides had an agreement to keep him as part of the foundation for Seattle's defense.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @dannyoneil

Code Red
Looking at Seattle's defense when Red Bryant was playing compared to the 10.5 games he missed in 2010 after suffering a knee injury shows just how valuable Bryant is to this team since moving to defensive end under coach Pete Carroll:
With Bryant Without
Games 22.5 10.5
Rushing yds per game 103.7 130.2
Rushing yds per carry 3.70 4.7
Rushing TDs allowed 14 9

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