There’s the news that a player has signed.
And then there’s the news that breaks a few days later, typically, of the contract a player has received that fills in the rest of the story.
Let’s look at two recent Seahawks free agent signings — those of defensive tackle Al Woods and quarterback Geno Smith — and what we now know about their contracts, and what that may say about their roles in 2019.
Al Woods, DT
Woods, a 32-year-old 10-year vet who started eight games last season for the Colts, signed a one-year deal with Seattle that according to ESPN’s Brady Henderson is worth up to $2.25 million with a $2.215 million salary cap hit. The deal includes $400,000 guaranteed and a $1.25 million salary.
The cap hit may not sound like all that much, but it is actually the second-highest for any defensive lineman on the Seahawks other than the $7.785 million of end Ziggy Ansah and would be 18th overall.
And it’s basically right in line with what Seattle last year paid free agents Shamar Stephen ($2.5 million salary cap hit) and Tom Johnson ($1.8 million cap hit), who were each on the Seahawks’ opening 53-man roster in 2018.
That all seems to mean you can pretty much peg Woods into a spot on the 53-man roster for 2019, barring the obvious caveats of injury and unforeseen events.
The 6-4, 330-pounder seems a best fit as a nose tackle but could also play the three-technique tackle spot.
Seattle typically keeps four true defensive tackles on the 53-man roster and the signing of Woods made the battle for those spots that much more heated.
The DT spot was one that was a little thin heading into the draft, but with additions made since then, the Seahawks now have seven true defensive tackles on their roster.
Jarran Reed will have one of the spots, Woods appears likely to have another, and last year’s rookie surprise, Poona Ford, would also seem hard-pressed not to make it.
That could leave the rest fighting for one spot.
That group consists of free agent signee Jamie Meder, sixth-round pick Demarcus Christmas and undrafted free agent signees Bryan Mone of Michigan and Jay-Tee Tiuli of Eastern Washington and Federal Way High School.
Seattle also lists Nazair Jones and Quinton Jefferson as tackles on its roster, but each is more accurately a hybrid end-tackle, playing primarily the five-technique end spot but then moving inside for passing downs.
Woods was briefly with the Seahawks in 2011, Pete Carroll’s second year, and that familiarity likely helped in his signing, as well.
“We really love having the experienced big guys that we’ve had over the years,” Carroll said after Tuesday’s OTA (Organized Team Activity). “We kind of have a role for those guys, and Al is that guy. He’s 340 something pounds and he’s a monster out there, he plays with a really high motor. So we’re counting on his experience first, and his savviness to add to a young bunch of guys.”
There had been speculation this week when Tampa Bay released veteran tackle Gerald McCoy that maybe Seattle would be interested.
But the Seahawks have not been listed in various reports of the teams that are interested in McCoy, who was reported to have visited the Cleveland Browns on Friday. McCoy left without signing but it was reported he could still sign with the Browns. McCoy is also reported to have a visit set with the Ravens on Tuesday.
For now, Seattle may be content to go into camp with what it has up front.
Geno Smith, QB
Smith, a second-round pick in 2013 of the Jets who then was New York’s primary starting quarterback in 2013 and 2014, signed last week with Seattle on a one-year deal that has since been revealed to be for the veteran minimum, which for Smith means a contract worth up to $895,000 with a cap hit of $735,000.
That contract is similar to that Paxton Lynch, who signed a one-year deal for $645,000, the minimum for a player with two accrued NFL seasons.
And that means contracts and salaries don’t figure to play any bearing on who wins the backup job behind Russell Wilson, which now appears wide open between two once highly-drafted players hoping to revive their careers in Seattle.
What could factor in is that with Lynch listed as having two accrued years means he should have practice eligibility, which means if Seattle wanted to keep all three they can by having Smith serve as the backup and then keeping Lynch on the practice squad (this is basically what the Seahawks did in 2017 when they kept Austin Davis as the backup and then re-signed Trevone Boykin to the practice squad when Davis did not have any more practice squad eligibility).
But that also requires clearing waivers and then re-signing, so that scenario is a long ways off, and for now Seattle will be looking for the best man to win.
And should the Seahawks want to make further moves at any position, they can.
As of Friday afternoon, the Seahawks are listed as having $23.9 million in cap space left for the 2019 season, 10th-most among NFL teams, according to the NFLPA website. The Seahawks obviously are also working to re-sign Bobby Wagner, but regardless of what happens there the Seahawks will have flexibility to make other moves down the road, if needed.