Considering they reached the second round of the playoffs with what amounted to a fifth-string tight end (Jacob Hollister) and fourth-string running back (Marshawn Lynch), the Seahawks have a whole lot of personnel business to tend to this off-season.
Which explains a bit of why they jumped a month ahead of the March 18 commencement of regular free agency Tuesday, announcing the signing of TE Greg Olsen, an oft-injured former Carolina Panthers star, to a one-year deal Tuesday worth $7 million, with $5.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN.
For a guy who missed the two late-season games last season with a concussion, and played only 16 games combined in 2017 and 2018 because of a foot injury, the price seems a little steep, especially since Olsen (6-5, 255 pounds) turns 35 next month.
But the Seahawks anticipate a savings of $3 million at the position when they let go Ed Dickson, who didn’t play last season because of knee problem that never went away. And because the Panthers cut Olsen a couple of weeks ago, rather than pay $11.6 million in the final year of his contract, he was available immediately — plus the Seahawks will not have to surrender a compensatory draft pick in 2021.
When healthy last season, he accumulated 52 receptions for 597 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers’ broken-down offense absent injured QB Cam Newton.
A Pro Bowl selection from 2014-16, Olsen, a 2007 first-round draft pick (31st overall) out Miami, has 718 receptions and 59 touchdowns in his 13-year career.
He was considering retirement and entering broadcasting — he was already doing XFL games — before deciding on one more season. He took visits to Buffalo and Washington, the latter coached by new hire Ron Rivera, his former boss in Charlotte, before deciding he liked his chances better in Seattle with QB Russell Wilson.
By making a short-term hire of an experienced pro, the Seahawks now have valuable insurance if the return of injured Will Dissly doesn’t go as planned. He’s recovering from surgery to repair an Achilles tendon torn Oct. 13 in Cleveland.
Yo @gregolsen88 welcome to the PNW!! TE room is going to be dangerous this year!!🤘🏼
— Will Dissly (@Will_Diss) February 18, 2020
In his season-ending presser, coach Pete Carroll indicated the rehab of Dissly, the former University Washington player who became a big contributor as a pass catcher and blocker, was going well. He had 262 yards on 23 catches before being hurt.
“He’s killing the rehab,” Carroll said. “Will is doing great. He’s spending some time down in LA to get right. He’s really fired up about the people that he’s working with and the progress he’s making. He’s been around a lot. He’ll get it done.”
Rookie Hollister began the season behind Dissly, Dickson, Nick Vannett (since traded) and competed with late-comer returnee Luke Willson. Hollister wound up starting most of the season, including the road playoff games in Philadelphia and Green Bay, but his blocking and lack of experience were liabilities. He’s a restricted free agent who can be retained if Seattle makes a qualifying offer. Willson, an unrestricted free agent, is unlikely to be asked back.
The Seahawks’ passing game, already trying to compensate for the retired Doug Baldwin, dwindled a bit in Dissly’s absence. Olsen gives the Seahawks another playmaker for Wilson to target.
This aged well.. https://t.co/hHIB4vDuln
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) February 18, 2020
The Seahawks have about $50 million in room under the cap, but have to make numerous decisions on whether to keep their own free agents, particularly DE Jadeveon Clowney, who is reported to be seeking a top-of-market deal for a defender, which would put him around $23 million to $25 million a year.
But for the moment, GM John Schneider can check the box marked TE.