Defensive tackle Earl Mitchell's tour of NFL teams will begin with the Seahawks Monday and then continue to San Francisco. He could serve as a replacement for free agent Tony McDaniel.
That means he can be signed immediately, in contrast to players whose contracts run out March 9 and then become unrestricted free agents, and Mitchell is getting a head start on the process by taking visits this week, beginning with the Seahawks.
It’s expected he’ll be in town Monday night and into Tuesday before heading for visits later in the week to San Francisco, Denver and Atlanta. A decision could/would theoretically come shortly after the visits, though there’s nothing stopping a signing from happening at any time, or Mitchell entertaining offers from other team, as well.
Since Mitchell was released, his signing would also not factor into the formula for compensatory picks, which for a team like the Seahawks that greatly values those might make him an even more attractive option.
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Mitchell missed half of the 2016 the season last year with a calf injury suffered in the opening game of the against the Seahawks in Seattle and was due to make $4 million in 2017 in what would have been the final year of his contract with Miami. He played in just 21 of a possible 32 regular season games the past two seasons.
Michell, 29, is a 6-3, 310-pounder who the Seahawks would likely view as a possible replacement for pending free agent Tony McDaniel serving as rotational depth at defensive tackle where Seattle’s two starters in 2017 would project to be Athyba Rubin and Jarran Reed.
McDaniel, who is now 32, essentially split time with Reed at the team’s right defensive tackle spot with Rubin the starter at the other spot, and the Seahawks.
Seattle has one other defensive tackle on its roster who fits the run-stuffing mold who will become a free agent March 9 — John Jenkins — while the Seahawks also have Justin Hamilton, Quinton Jefferson, Rodney Coe, Shaneil Jenkins and Garrison Smith on their roster listed as defensive tackles.
Interestingly, three of the four teams Mitchell is set to visit essentially run the same defense — Seattle, Atlanta, where former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is now the head coach, and the 49ers, where Robert Saleh, who was an assistant with the Seahawks from 2011-13 and then worked at Jacksonville under former Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, is now the defensive coordinator.
All apparently view Mitchell as potentially being a run-stuffing early-down defensive tackle in a 4-3.
The Seahawks would likely be hoping to get Mitchell for a relatively risk-free deal. McDaniel made $985,000 last season on a one-year contract signed in August after the Seahawks suddenly needed depth up front with an injury that sidelined free agent signee Sealver Siliga, among other issues.
McDaniel played roughly 30 snaps a game for the Seahawks in 2016 while Mitchell played about 34 per game for the Dolphins.
A former standout at the University of Arizona, Mitchell played has played seven NFL four seasons, four with Houston and the last three with Miami and has 38 starts in his career.