And then there were two.
Of the Seahawks’ 11-man 2016 draft class, just two remain on the roster after it was reported Wednesday that offensive lineman Germain Ifedi has agreed to sign a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears.
The agreement was first reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, who also noted the Bears are likely to use Ifedi at guard instead of tackle, which was his primary position with the Seahawks.
That leaves only defensive tackle Jarran Reed (who was re-signed to a two-year deal last week) and center Joey Hunt (who was tendered as a restricted free agent and, while he has yet to sign it, is a player the team would like to have back at that price) still on the books.
The other nine are either playing elsewhere or free agents, and only one of the free agents was with the team last year — running back C.J. Prosise.
Ifedi was the Seahawks’ first pick that year, taken at No. 31 following a trade with the Denver Broncos in which they moved down five spots to acquire an extra pick in the third round. (The Broncos moved up to take quarterback Paxton Lynch. The Seahawks used the other pick it received on tight end Nick Vannett.)
Ifedi started all 60 games in which he played for the Seahawks but was viewed as never quite living up to the potential of a first-round pick. In the eyes of many fans, he became something of a symbol for an offensive line that has also long been regarded as one of the team’s weaknesses.
Ifedi started all 16 games last season at right tackle, and both games in the playoffs, and along with quarterback Russell Wilson was the only player not to miss an offensive snap.
But it had long been thought he was unlikely to be back after the team declined to pick up a fifth-year option following the 2018 season that would have paid him $10.3 million for the 2020 season.
That meant Ifedi became an unrestricted free agent last week after playing out the final season of his four-year rookie deal, and the team’s actions — signing free-agent tackles Brandon Shell of the Jets and Cedric Ogbuehi of the Jags — sent a strong signal reaffirming that Ifedi was unlikely to return.
Shell, who signed a two-year deal worth up to $11 million, is expected to take over Ifedi’s spot at right tackle while Ogbuehi (a teammate of Ifedi’s at Texas A&M) could also compete for that spot or be a swing backup tackle, similar to the role George Fant played the last few years. The additions of Shell and Ogbuehi as well as guard/center B.J. Finney and guard Chance Warmack give the Seahawks 15 offensive linemen under contract, agreed to terms or tendered for the 2020 season.
Some had thought Fant could replace Ifedi at right tackle, but he signed a three-year deal with the Jets worth up to $30 million with $13.7 million guaranteed.
That contract may dwarf the one received by Ifedi, who likely figured he’d get more than a one-year deal. But until the dollar figures are in on Ifedi’s contract — they were not immediately available — judgment has to wait.
Still, that Ifedi lasted into the second wave of free agency indicates his market was not overly strong. Also eye-opening is that the Bears apparently intend to try Ifedi at guard. Ifedi started at right guard for the Seahawks as a rookie in 2016 and moved to right tackle in 2017 and started all but one game there the last three seasons.
While he showed flashes of the potential that landed him in the first round, he also struggled with inconsistency and a maddening propensity for penalties. He infamously led the NFL in penalties accepted (16) and called (20) in 2017, and while he cut down on penalties the following two seasons, he still regularly drew flags (11 in 2018 and 14 in 2019).
He’s the Seahawks’ fourth free agent to sign with another team, joining Fant and defensive linemen Quinton Jefferson (Buffalo) and Al Woods (Jacksonville).
Here’s a look at the Seahawks’ 2016 draft class:
OL Germain Ifedi: Taken 31st overall, he’s now with the Bears.
DT Jarran Reed: 49th, re-signed with Seahawks.
RB C.J. Prosise: 90th, he is unsigned and still a free agent.
TE Nick Vannett: 94th, he signed a two-year deal last week with Denver.
OL Rees Odhiambo: 97th, he has not played since the 2018 season.
DL Quinton Jefferson: 147th, he signed last week with Buffalo.
RB Alex Collins: 171st, is unsigned and remains a free agent. Not on a roster last season.
OL Joey Hunt: Taken 215th, Hunt was tendered as a restricted free agent but can listen to offers from other teams until he signs.
WR Kenny Lawler: Taken 243rd, is with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
RB Zac Brooks: Taken 247th, never played in an NFL game and is out of football.