The Seahawks made their first major move of free agency Monday night by agreeing to a three-year contract with defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin worth a reported $12 million.
The Seahawks made their first major move of the off-season Monday night by reaching agreement on a three-year contract with defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, who was set to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.
Rubin was one of the team’s two starting defensive tackles in 2015 along with Brandon Mebane and it was regarded as a priority for the Seahawks to re-sign at least one of them.
Rubin, 29, started all 16 regular season games for the Seahawks last season, making 36 tackles, and was a key part of a front line that helped the Seahawks lead the NFL in rushing defense at 81.5 yards per game. He also added a game-turning interception against the Steelers and recovered a fumble by Adrian Peterson that proved decisive late in the wild card playoff win over the Vikings.
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Rubin primarily plays the three-technique spot and generally on running downs, and Seattle coach Pete Carroll often cited him as a particularly key part of the run defense success in 2015.
“Rubin’s been great at it,” Carroll said late in the season. “He’s really been as consistent as anybody we’ve had over the years. We’re really fired up about what he’s brought.”
Added defensive coordinator Kris Richard: “With our defense, it absolutely starts up front. The four guys that we put down there, they put their hands in the dirt, and they absolutely know what their responsibility is. And he’s been a staple for us right there. Right there in the middle. Darn near playing every snap. He plays a lot of reps for us, and he does a fantastic job of being stout.”
Rubin, who will turn 30 on July 25, played last season on a one-year contract worth $2.6 million after having played the first seven years of his career with Cleveland. It had been thought he would be seeking closer to $4 million per in his new deal and that’s what he has gotten.
The Seahawks have been said likely concentrating on re-signing a few of their own players in the early stages of free agency and keeping a defense that led the NFL in fewest points allowed for a fourth straight season as intact as possible is a particular goal.
Seattle has seven other defensive starters under contract through next season and has three others that could become free agents on Wednesday — Mebane, cornerback Jeremy Lane and linebacker Bruce Irvin.
That Rubin has re-signed might make it less urgent to re-sign Mebane, who turned 31 in January. Mebane is the longest-tenured Seahawk, drafted in the third round out of Cal in 2007.
Mebane started 15 games at nose tackle and the Seahawks could look to the draft or to other free agents if they cannot re-sign him. Seattle also has Jordan Hill, a 2013 pick, who as a backup defensive lineman (and officially listed as Mebane’s backup) and also over the weekend made a qualifying offer to A.J.Francis, who ended the season as the team’s other backup defensive tackle. The Seahawks also recently signed DT Justin Hamilton, a practice squad player last year, to a futures contract.