The Seahawks have agreed to terms with cornerback DeShawn Shead and tight end Luke Willson.
The Seahawks on Friday re-signed what might have been regarded as the two most important of their remaining unrestricted free agents — tight end Luke Willson and cornerback DeShawn Shead.
Each agreed to a one-year deal with Willson’s contract reported as worth $3 million, while Shead’s is worth a total of $1.5 million with $1 million guaranteed at signing, according to a league source.
Shead had a visit to Buffalo Thursday but also had an offer on the table from Seattle previously and shortly after the trip decided to stay with the team he has played for since 2012.
“Thrilled to say I’m staying in the city with the BEST fans anyone could ask for,” Shead later wrote on Twitter. “12’s see you next season!”
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After emerging as a starter last season, playing in all but one game, Shead suffered an ACL injury in the divisional playoff loss at Atlanta and it’s unclear when he will be able to play in 2017. Due to the injury, the Seahawks did not tender Shead as a restricted free agent, which would have set his salary at roughly $1.8 million for 2017, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.
The minimum Seattle could have paid Shead was $775,000, so the contract the team gave him shows a little bit of confidence in his return in 2017 as well as a reward for what he did in 2016.
Willson became an unrestricted free agent when his original rookie contract ran out and he said he was initially “kind of excited” to check out what might be available in free agency.
But what turned into somewhat of a muted market for tight ends — due in part to what is regarded as one of the best draft classes of tight ends in recent memory — might have worked in Seattle’s favor in allowing Willson to return on a one-year deal.
Seattle had free agent tight end Jared Cook in for a visit earlier this week but he ultimately signed with the Raiders.
In a video posted on Twitter Friday afternoon, Willson said he was “fired up” to return to Seattle for another season and said he would be in town Saturday “to make everything official.” While the Seahawks announced the signing of Shead, Willson’s won’t come until after he officially signs his contract.
Willson’s return means the Seahawks have three of their top four tight ends from 2017 back under contract, with Jimmy Graham entering the last year of his deal and Nick Vannett also back.
Willson has 74 catches for 976 yards and seven touchdowns since coming to Seattle as a fifth-round pick out of Rice in 2013. He had a career-low 15 receptions on 21 targets for 129 yards last season when injuries limited him to playing in 11 games.
That Willson and Graham will each enter 2017 with just one year left on their contracts could mean Seattle could still draft a tight end to prepare for the future. But Willson’s signing certainly lessens the urgency to need to get one for next season.
Seattle earlier this week also re-signed cornerback Neiko Thorpe, meaning three of the team’s unrestricted free agents are so far assured of returning in 2017.
Shortly after the agreement was announced, Willson took to Twitter to announce that, well, he isn’t leaving Seattle:
Shead’s agency announced his re-signing on Twitter, as well: