With Leroy Hill signed, team gets down to business on the field.
RENTON — President Tim Ruskell stood off to the side of the Seahawks’ practice, eyes hidden behind sunglasses as he watched two months’ worth of offseason changes take the field.
Linebacker Leroy Hill was present, signed and smiling after Ruskell’s risk of removing the franchise tag applied jumper cables to spark life into stalled negotiations. Aaron Curry was on the field, too, looking every bit of 255 pounds of muscle and mobility that made the Seahawks draft him higher than any linebacker in nine years.
Free-agent addition T.J. Houshmandzadeh was catching passes from Matt Hasselbeck, and newly signed cornerback Ken Lucas was doing his best to defend them.
The first day of a new month was Seattle’s first practice with all its new parts, a firsthand look at the results of two months of offseason renovations. So how about an evaluation of the offseason moves?
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“It’s too early to do that,” Ruskell said afterward. “I will say this, when I evaluate what our plan was and how it came through, I can easily say we did well.
“We had some targets coming out of the season, and we hit a lot of those targets.”
Seattle hosted Houshmandzadeh and defensive tackle Colin Cole for its first two free-agent visits in March. The Seahawks signed them both.
The Seahawks picked Curry, the player coach Jim Mora characterized as their top target, they bolstered the interior offensive line with second-round pick Max Unger, added some top-end speed with receiver Deon Butler in the third and got Denver’s first-round pick next year to boot.
Cap it off by signing Lucas, a tall, physical cornerback with eight years of NFL experience, and bringing Hill back by withdrawing the franchise tag to kick-start negotiations that had been glacial for two months.
“It was a business decision for them,” Hill said.
One that played out extremely quickly. Hill was re-signed in less than a week’s time.
“I’m back, and it’s all behind me,” Hill said. “I’m glad to be back.”
His re-signing was the last big piece of offseason business for Seattle.
“From a personnel standpoint, I think Tim did a tremendous job addressing our needs,” coach Jim Mora said.
Seattle did suffer some losses.
Bobby Engram — Seattle’s top receiver in catches each of the past two years — signed with the Chiefs, and fullback Leonard Weaver left for more money from Philadelphia. The reality is that Seattle looked elsewhere to improve its receivers, first signing Houshmandzadeh and then drafting Butler. Fullback simply wasn’t a position the Seahawks were willing to pay a premium.
The one area defined as a priority was the pass rush along the defensive line. There wasn’t much available on the free-agent market, and this was a draft without a top-shelf rush end available.
Instead the Seahawks will rely upon their linebackers to provide a boost, blitzing Hill and Curry, who will replace Julian Peterson, the team leader in sacks over the past three seasons. Defensive end Patrick Kerney is coming back from shoulder surgery, and the Seahawks are hoping Lawrence Jackson will improve and Darryl Tapp will again show the pass-rush promise he held two years ago.
The Seahawks’ offseason wasn’t perfect, but it looked pretty good out there on the practice field Friday.
“We won’t know anything until we start playing games,” Mora said. “All indications right now are that we addressed our needs the best we could.”
• Seattle released cornerback DeMichael Dizer and long snapper Tyler Schmitt on Friday, leaving 78 players listed on the team’s active roster.
• LB Adam Leonard from Rainier Beach High School is one of nine players trying out this weekend. Leonard attended Hawaii. The other eight players: P David King, WR Tony Washington (Sacramento State), WR Ben Hannula (San Diego), FB Carl Stewart (Auburn), LS Sean Griffin (Michigan), DT Tez Doolittle (Auburn), C David Washington (Oklahoma State) and DT Brandon Nicholas (Colorado).
• Defensive end Brandon Miller underwent wrist surgery Friday in Philadelphia and is one of nine Seahawks not participating in the three-day minicamp because of injuries or offseason surgery: CB Kelly Jennings (shoulder), FB Justin Griffith (knee), LB D.D. Lewis (knee), G Mike Wahle (shoulder), T Walter Jones (knee), WR Deion Branch (knee), DL Cory Redding (knee) and DE Patrick Kerney (shoulder).
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364