The Seattle Seahawks and linebacker Leroy Hill have agreed to terms to a multi-year deal, the team announced this afternoon.
Hill, Seattle’s second of two third round picks (98th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft, has started 50 of 56 career games, totaling 321 tackles (237 solo), 13.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his career.
It appears the Seattle Seahawks strategy of rescinding the franchise tag on Hill in order to speed up negotiations with the 26-year-old linebacker paid off.
In an interview with KJR-AM’s Mitch Levy this morning, Seattle head coach Jim Mora said he felt a deal with Hill was just a matter of time.
“My belief in talking to Leroy as much as I have is that he’ll be wearing a Seattle Seahawk uniform next year,” Mora said. “I feel very confident of that."
It’s unknown how close the deal will be to the reported, six-year, $36 deal that was offered to Hill be fore the tag was pulled.
The Seahawks pulled the franchise tag, which included an $8.3 million, one-year tender offer, just hours after they drafted Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with the No. 4 overall draft pick in this year’s draft last week.
Mora said by drafting Curry the team softened the blow if they lost Hill. But for the team, Mora said the franchise tag had been constraining and had not helped in negotiations like they thought it would.
Further, Mora said the team did not want to risk a long hold out because of the mostly new defensive scheme the team is installing.
"A majority of what we’re doing on defense terminology-wise and assignment-wise will be different than what Leroy has done his first four years here," Mora said. "So he is missing valuable time when he’s not here in order for him to be a productive football player for us on the field next fall.
"To ask a guy to come in, in a new scheme, a week before the first regular-season game – which happens a lot of times with these franchise guys – and be productive is a pipe dream. It just doesn’t happen very often."
Mora also said cornerback Ken Lucas, a free agent who the team signed to a reported, one-year, $2.3 million contract with the some of the salary cap flexibility they created by pulling the franchise tag from Hill, will be the starting right corner to begin with over Josh Wilson.
"I know it wasn’t a popular move with Josh, but I felt like it was the right thing to do," Mora said. "We signed Kenny. He’s been a player in this league for a long time. He’s been a successful player. And we’re going to put him in that spot. … He’s a taller guy. He’s physical. He’s competitive. He’s smart. And I think we’re going to get his best. I think he’s really motivated. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder because of what happened to him. He got cut. He was on the open market for a while, and I think he has something to prove."
Mora said Deon Butler, a wide receiver out of Penn State the team drafted by trading up to select him in the third round, will get an opportunity to return kicks.
And Mora had this to say on seventh round draft pick University of Oregon defensive end Nick Reed: "I’ve always been a Nick Reed fan just watching him on TV. I know he’s undersized. He’s 6-1 ½, he’s a little bit under 250 (pounds). So that’s a little bit undersized for a defensive end, but he’s a relentless guy. … He just kind of always show us and gets sacks and he’s going. And for a seventh round pick I think that’s what you’re looking for – a guy who has a trait and has production. And his trait is being able to get to the quarterback."
UPDATE: Here’s the audio link of the Mora interview.