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Irvin, Mebane And Sweezy Gone: Free Agency Losses Part Of The Game For Seahawks

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
You can see why they need him. Now-former Seahawks outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) runs the ball as Oakland Raiders' Mychal Rivera (81) looks on after Irvin intercepted and ran for a touchdown on Nov. 2, 2014. Irvin signed with the Raiders this week.

The NFL’s free agency period is underway and, already, three well-known Seahawks players are gone.

It’s just part of the game and KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it’s no reason for fans to get nervous.

Update: After this commentary was recorded, the Seahawks announced they had reached an agreement with free agent receiver Jermaine Kearse to return to the team under a three-year deal worth $13.5 million.

Good Team, Valuable Players

"The Seahawks have a lot of quality players and so those players who are free agents are being pursued by multiple teams and that increases their value," Thiel said.

"The Seahawks would like to retain nearly all of their free agents, but because of the limits imposed by the salary cap, they have to pick and choose.

"The salary cap for each team this year is $155 million. That’s up from $142 million from a year ago, suggesting that the NFL is, indeed, even more prosperous that most of us imagined," he joked.

Who's Gone?

This week, linebacker Bruce Irvin signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane agreed to terms with the San Diego Chargers. And offensive guard J.R. Sweezy is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

"Bruce Irvin is probably the biggest loss because he was a starting linebacker," Thiel said.

"The Seahawks told him a year ago they were not going to exercise a fifth-year option on his contract.

"That means he knew this was coming, and so did the Seahawks and I think, most of the fans understood. Especially after seeing that he got a gigantic contract offer from the Raiders, the Seahawks had no hope to match.

"His place is probably going to be the toughest to fill right now.

"The defensive tackle position that Mebane vacated probably has a likely heir in tackle Jordan Hill. He’s been with the team four years and I think he’s a good chance to fill.

"The other vacated spot is at guard where J.R. Sweezy got big money to move to Tampa. I think they’ve already got a guy designated for him - a rookie last year by the name of Mark Glowinski.

He got one start but impressed the coaches throughout that start as well at practice. He is probably going to be close to being as good as Sweezy is," Thiel said.

New Deals For Key Defensive Players

Thiel said the Seahawks' emphasis on defense was evident in their two resignings this week.

"With the Seahawks, defense is first, second and third and, oh by the way, there's the offense," he joked.

"They did resign Ahtyba Rubin, who came here last year from Cleveland on a one-year contract and did very well stopping the run. He resigned for three years and got a nice pay raise.

"At cornerback, that was the spot I thought was most critical. Jeremy Lane will return on a four-year contract worth $23 million.

"Lane was the guy who got double injured in the Super Bowl against New England. He broke his wrist and tore a knee ligament in the same play – returning an interception.

"He was out for the first 10 games of the season but came back and solidified the cornerback opposite Richard Sherman so well that he got big rewards – even though he’s only started six games in his four years in the NFL.

In Management We Trust

Thiel said fans shouldn't be nervous about the big names who are gone.

"These are the first days of a free agent period that lasts throughout the entire year.

"The top guys typically go in the first 24 or 48 hours. There’s another tier that go in the next three or four days.

"And then after that, the Seahawks are filling in reserve roster spots – as are all teams. Then, of course, comes the draft April 28.

"That is the big time when the Seahawks really do well in replacing lost personnel.

"I would tell Seahawks fans who are anxiety-ridden, ‘Relax – there’s a long process of roster building and the Seahawks are just at the beginning.’”


You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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