The Lakewood native and former Huskies star reportedly won't be giving the Seahawks any special treatment. "I love my hometown, but I’ve put in too much hard work to give a discount," he told ESPN.
The first priority for Seahawks receiver Jermaine Kearse may be to stay in his hometown, as he said after Sunday’s divisional playoff loss at Carolina.
But that doesn’t mean he will take less money to do so.
Kearse texted ESPN’s Adam Schefter Thursday that he will be looking for the best offer as he now enters unrestricted free agency.
“I love my hometown, but I’ve put in too much hard work to give a discount,” Kearse said via text, according to Schefter. “My number one priority is to take care of my family’s future, so I will consider all opportunities.”
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Kearse, who grew up in Lakewood and attended UW before becoming a Seahawk in 2012. made $2.3 million in 2015 under terms of a deal he signed as a restricted free agent, and has made about $4 million in his career with the team.
But turning 26 next month and coming off the best season of his career — 49 catches for 685 yards and five touchdowns, all career highs — Kearse enters the market at a good time to get a deal that could maybe at least double what he has made so far.
This is also regarded as a not overly great year for free agent receivers, with Kearse generally considered among the top 10 or so receivers who will be available.
Overthecap,com recently estimated that Kearse could get a three-year deal worth $9-10.5 million. So the question now is which team offers Kearse something like that and if the Seahawks will be willing to match it. (Interestingly, Kearse is represented by Gary Uberstine, who also represents Pete Carroll and Steve Sarkisian).
Potentially factoring into the equation is that Seattle may also have to consider giving an extension to Doug Baldwin, who is entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed in 2014 that will pay him $4 million in 2016 — probably not quite anywhere near the market for a receiver having just scored 14 touchdowns.
Seattle has Tyler Lockett under contract for three more years, but otherwise has some uncertainty at the receiver spot.
Paul Richardson is also under contract for two more years but played just one half of one game this season before suffering a hamstring injury that landed him back on Injured Reserve.
Seattle also will return former UW standouts Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams, but both are coming off their rookie seasons and of limited activity and are far from proven, while Ricardo Lockette is an unrestricted free agent and also is rehabbing from a scary neck injury.
Also undoubtedly factoring in to decisions Seattle makes at receiver is the health of tight end Jimmy Graham — who was the team’s leading receiver before suffering a torn patellar tendon injury against the Steelers on Nov. 29. Graham is sort of a de-facto receiver, as well, and the team sounds confident he will be ready for the start of the 2016 season.
All of which means receiver is just another spot where the off-season for the Seahawks figures to be intriguing.