Our countdown of Seahawks unrestricted free agents continues with defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin.
The position group where the Seahawks could be impacted the most in free agency is defensive tackle as both starters from 2015 — Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin — can be unrestricted free agents beginning Wednesday.
Here’s a closer look at Rubin.
DT Ahtyba Rubin
2015 salary: Rubin played last season on a one-year contract worth $2.6 million (1.35 million salary, $1 million signing bonus, $250,000 roster bonus) as an unrestricted free agent.
Role with Seahawks in 2015: Rubin was signed after he had played the previous seven years in Cleveland to compete for the defensive tackle job, specifically at what is called the “three-technique’’ spot, aligned outside the shoulder of the guard. Rubin emerged as the starter in training camp after the team released Tony McDaniel early in training camp in a salary-cap related move. Rubin started all 16 games working alongside nose tackle Mebane, and had 36 tackles for the season. More importantly, Rubin helped key a defensive front that played a big part in the Seahawks leading the NFL in rushing defense at 81.5 per game.
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Free agent outlook: Rubin figures to have more of a market than a year ago, when he was coming off an injury-plagued season in Cleveland.
And at 29-and-a-half years old (his birthdate is July 25), he could be considered more of a priority to the Seahawks than Mebane, who turned 31 in January.
It’s been generally thought the Seahawks will make sure to sign one of the two, but that retaining both could be more difficult.
The salary range for run-stopping defensive tackles — the role specifically played by Mebane — is thought likely to top out at $4 million. After making $2.6 million in 2015, though, Rubin will undoubtedly want as close to $4 million as he can get.
There are no shortage of defensive tackles available in free agency, though, and the Seahawks have proven adept at getting some lower-cost but still-productive players, such as Tony McDaniel in 2013, Kevin Williams in 2014 and Rubin. Depending on how high Rubin’s price goes, the Seahawks could look for other options.
It’s also considered one of the better years for defensive tackles in the draft in recent memory.
The Seahawks may not want to look to the draft for an immediate starter, though, making it likely that if one or both of Rubin and Mebane don’t re-sign they will look to other veteran free agents to fill in.
The Seahawks also have a few younger players it will hope can progress next season, as well, notably Jordan Hill. Hill, though, has been limited to 27 of a possible 48 regular-season games in his Seattle career due to injury.
The Seahawks also have retained exclusive rights free agent A.J. Francis, a late-season signee who was Rubin’s official backup at the end of the season, though he played in just two games