The Seahawks have signed guard Jahri Evans, a six-time Pro Bowler with the New Orleans Saints. Evans visited the Seahawks on Friday. He had played since 2006 with the Saints.
Adding veteran depth and competition to a young offensive line, the Seahawks Saturday signed guard Jahri Evans, who played the last 10 seasons with the New Orleans Saints and was named to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 2009-14.
Evans, who plays right guard, visited the Seahawks on Friday before agreeing to and signing a deal after Saturday’s practice. The Seahawks waived OL Kona Schwenke to make room on the 90-man roster.
Evans, 32, was released by the Saints in February after refusing to renegotiate his contract to take a pay cut and has been a free agent since then. He was due to enter the second year of a three-year contract worth $18 million signed prior to the 2015 season. Details of his contract with the Seahawks were not immediately available but it was believed to be a one-year deal that would likely be relatively inexpensive and low-risk for the Seahawks, who entered the day with $8.8 million in salary cap space for the 2016 season.
Offensive line coach Tom Cable said earlier in the day Saturday that Evans had visited and that “we are always trying to get better, obviously. So that’s about all I know at this point.”
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The Seahawks have been pleased with the play of their guards in camp — rookie Germain Ifedi at right guard and second-year man Mark Glowinski at left guard — and it’s thought that the Seahawks are bringing in Evans for depth and experience and added competition rather than as a reflection of any worry about the play at that spot.
However, if Evans were to show he was one of the team’s best five offensive linemen the team could move others to make room for him in the lineup. Specifically, Ifedi played right tackle in college at Texas A&M and could theoretically be moved there to make room for Evans at right guard, if the team deemed that to be its best offensive line.
Cable, though, said Saturday that for now the team plans to keep Ifedi at right guard.
“It’s been talked about, but it’s surely not a serious thought right now,” Cable said of moving Ifedi. “The biggest issue is getting him settled, and obviously he’s doing really well. So I don’t know that you want to mess with that.”
Evans has 153 starts in his career, which is 17 more than the combined total of the rest of Seattle’s current offensive line.
While Evans’ background suggests he can make a significant impact on the Seattle offensive line, the Seahawks will obviously want to get a good look at Evans in the next few weeks to see if he can still play to his Pro Bowl form or if age has taken any toll.
Pro Football Focus wrote at the midway point of last season of the Saints’ offensive line that: “You worry a little about the future of this unit at guard, where Jahri Evans is more rep than production at this stage.”
Seattle has not had a lot of recent success in signing veteran free agents but are hoping to break that trend this year with Evans, as well as right tackle J’Marcus Webb, who signed in March.
Webb’s 61 starts with the Raiders, Bears and Vikings were the most of any of the current Seattle offensive linemen before the signing of Evans. Next on the list is the 32 of Justin Britt, who is now starting at center.
Evans, who will wear No. 62 for the Seahawks, started 11 games for the Saints last season, missing five due to arthroscopic knee surgery. He had missed only two games in his career prior to that injury. He battled through a wrist injury in 2014, having surgery after the season which caused him to drop out of the Pro Bowl.
Evans, who turns 33 on Aug. 22, initially entered the NFL as a fourth round pick out of Bloomsburg (Pa.) University, which plays at the NCAA Division II level.
Cable said he was pleased with the play of the offensive line through the first week of training camp, saying that he thought the team would have a tough time figuring out who to keep when cuts have to be made, first to 75 following the third pre-season game and then to 53 following the fourth and final preseason game Sept. 1.
The Seahawks have typically kept nine offensive linemen. They currently have 14 on the roster.
“We’ve been talking about that daily as a staff,” he said.”What a cool cut this is going to be but a very difficult one. Cool by (the fact that) we’re better. That’s all you care for.”
After having experimented with some different-looking offensive line rotations on Friday, the Seahawks were back to their usual groupings on Saturday during a walk-through that was in preparation for a scrimmage on Sunday.
The number one line features Webb at right tackle, Ifedi at right guard, Britt at center, Glowinski at left guard and Garry Gilliam at left tackle.
The second unit was also the same as it has been — Bradley Sowell at left tackle, Rees Odhiambo at left guard, Patrick Lewis at center, Will Pericak at right guard and Terry Poole at right tackle.
However, Cable said to expect Odhiambo, a third-round pick out of Boise State, to be used at both guard and tackle going forward.