A few hours after Seahawks general manager John Schneider said that the inside linebacker position is “an area of concern for us,’’ the team took a step toward addressing it, signing free agent Devin Bush, a source confirmed Thursday night.
Bush, who spent the last four years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, visited the Seahawks on Thursday and came to an agreement on a one-year contract. Financial terms were not immediately available.
The Seahawks’ two primary starting inside linebackers in 2022 were Jordyn Brooks in the middle and Cody Barton on the weakside. Brooks is recovering from surgery in January to repair an ACL tear and Barton signed with Washington as a free agent this week.
They also have Jon Rhattigan, Nick Bellore and Vi Jones under contract as players who can play inside linebacker.
Tanner Muse, who stepped in to start at weakside linebacker after Brooks was hurt Jan. 1 against the Jets, was not given a tender as a restricted free agent this week and is an unrestricted free agent. The Seahawks could still re-sign Muse to a contract for less money than the $2.6 million of the minimum tender.
Bush was the 10th overall pick of the 2019 draft out of Michigan after the Steelers traded up with Denver to get the consensus All-American.
Bush was named to the Pro Football Writers Of America All-Rookie Team in 2019 when he led the Steelers with 109 tackles, including 72 solo tackles.
Bush’s 109 tackles were the most by a rookie in Steelers’ history, and he was the only rookie in team history to ever record more than 100 tackles in a season. He also led all NFL rookies with his 109 tackles and 72 solo stops.
But an ACL injury in 2020 limited him to five games and he struggled to get back to his rookie form the last two seasons.
He started 14 games in each of the past two years — and has 48 starts for his career — but lost his starting job at the end of last season, and the Steelers decided to go in a different direction with its linebacking corps (the Steelers recently hired former Seahawk Aaron Curry off Seattle’s staff as their new inside linebackers coach).
The Seahawks are hoping a chance of scenery will revive the career of Bush, who turns 25 in July.
The signing of Bush comes amid speculation that the Seahawks could be seeking a reunion with longtime middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
Early indications are that the signing of Bush does not preclude a re-signing of Wagner.
Bush becomes the third external free agent the Seahawks have signed this week to the defense, joining defensive linemen Dre’Mont Jones and Jarran Reed and as the Seahawks continue to try to revamp a defense that last year finished 25th in the NFL in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed. They also signed center Evan Bush on Thursday.
While linebacker has loomed as an obvious need for the Seahawks, Schneider said during his weekly radio show Thursday on Seattle Sports 710 AM that the team had been patient in signing linebackers because there is a lot of depth both in free agency and the draft.
“It’s just a position where there’s numbers there,’’ Schneider said. “… There’s just more number there, so you really have to focus on other areas where there’s less numbers.’’
But Seattle struck Thursday to get another linebacker on board.
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