The Seattle Seahawks will be without the team’s leading tackler for the past three seasons.
The New Orleans Saints announced that David Hawthorne signed a five-year deal to join the team.
“He wanted to come back there,” Hawthorne’s agent Russel Hicks said. “He got his NFL start there, but unfortunately Seattle did not make him a priority to bring him back and New Orleans made it a priority to get him signed.
“Personally I just wish they would have made a better attempt to bring him back, but they didn’t. And David does, too.”
Talks between the Seahawks and Hawthorne intensified a week ago, but ultimately the two sides never got to the point where they agreed on financial terms or length of the contract, and Hawthorne went with the offer he had on the table from New Orleans.
Hicks said that New Orleans showed interest in Hawthorne at the opening of free agency, and still pursued Hawthorne even after the team signed Atlanta free agent linebacker Curtis Lofton.
Hawthorne is the third free agent linebacker signed by New Orleans this offseason, joining Lofton and Chris Chamberlain from St Louis.
It was expected that the Seahawks would go hard after Hawthorne after re-signing running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant, but the Seahawks never went after Hawthorne with the same fervor they pursued the first two.
Along with Bryant and Lynch, the Seahawks brought in free agents Matt Flynn and Jason Jones, hampering their ability to make a significant financial commitment to Hawthorne.
Hawthorne, who turns 27 in May, was considered one of Seattle’s team leaders on defense.
But the Seahawks also had some concerns about Hawthorne’s lingering injury issues after limping through the 2011 season with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee for most of the year.
With Hawthorne gone and K.J. Wright the only starting linebacker currently on the team’s roster, the Seahawks likely will look to bolster the position in the draft Seattle also could consider bringing back veteran linebacker Leroy Hill in free agency