RENTON — What kind of playing time he might get didn’t really factor into Al Woods’ decision to sign with the Seahawks.
Instead, as the 32-year-old defensive tackle sifted through offers last spring from Seattle, Detroit and Jacksonville, he considered bigger-picture matters.
“It was just looking at all of them together and looking at the teams and seeing what they could be,’’ said Woods, who played from 2014-16 with Tennessee and then spent the last two seasons with the Colts. “And I’d already been in the AFC South for the past (five) years, so I wanted to come out here and try something different and come out here to the NFC West.’’
Woods ultimately signed a one-year contract with Seattle worth up to $2.25 million, with $400,000 guaranteed.
At the time, Woods was viewed as veteran depth, maybe competing with Poona Ford to play alongside Jarran Reed but most likely serving in a rotational role.
But now, with Reed suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, Woods appears poised for a starting spot to begin the year and getting all the playing time he could have asked for, if he’d bothered to ask.
Woods has been a logical thought all along to start the games Reed will miss, but the Seahawks appear to be making it more official as training camp has progressed the past week. Thursday, when the No. 1 defense took the field to begin practice, Woods rotated in at defensive tackle with Reed alongside Ford. The Seahawks also signed veteran Earl Mitchell after learning of Reed’s suspension. But for now, Seattle appears to be leaning toward Woods and Ford as its starting tackle tandem in its base defense with Reed out.
Woods said no one has told him anything and noted players move in and out of rotations all the time.
But asked about Woods and what he might mean while Reed is out, coach Pete Carroll on Thursday said, “We are really fortunate that we got Al.’’
It might be easy to forget that the two have something of a prior relationship.
Woods spent almost two months on Seattle’s roster in 2011, claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay in early September and playing in two games before being waived by the Seahawks in November and claimed by Pittsburgh.
He was then in his second year in the NFL and just trying to find his way — he’d played nine games in a reserve role as a rookie with Tampa Bay in 2010. But he said then he could tell something special was brewing in Seattle, that being the season the Legion of Boom first came to life.
“Just how competitive they were, and really holding these practices as games, and a lot of people making the team back then because of practices and going in and producing in games,’’ he said.
It was with the Steelers he finally made his mark before later signing with Tennessee (he visited Seattle in 2016 before re-signing with Tennessee), and then in 2017 with the Colts.
He had his best season with Indianapolis in 2017 when he started all 16 games and was ranked at the end of the year as the 10th-best defensive tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
That helped lead to him being voted by his Indianapolis teammates as a defensive team captain for 2018.
But a late-season foot injury helped derail his year and he started just eight games last season, missing the final two after going on injured reserve.
To anyone nervous about a 32-year old coming off a foot injury, though, Woods says don’t be.
“The foot’s healed up and ready to go,’’ he said. “It’s feeling good, really good.’’
He’s also excited about the Seattle defense, even if to many observers it is the defense — and particularly a line filled with question marks — that is suddenly considered the team’s potential weak spot.
Woods said before signing he went back and reviewed TV broadcasts of Seattle games to get a sense of the kind of defense he might be joining.
“Just looking at how they play and how they finish,” Woods said. “Being a 10-year (veteran) you look at stuff like that and I said, ‘Well, hell, I want to go be a part of something like that.”’
Carroll also pointed to Woods’ leadership as a reason the Seahawks wanted to bring him in — he’s the second-oldest player on the team, behind only left tackle Duane Brown.
“He’s a really good dude in the locker room with the young guys,’’ Carroll said.
In this case, when he talks to the younger Seahawk defensive linemen, he can say he literally once sat in their same seat.
“It’s fun to watch them grow because to me it’s like yesterday I was in their shoes,’’ he said. “So to be on the other side of the coin looking back is impressive.’’