March 10, 2015

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Before free agency started, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider knew he needed to make additions to the secondary.

So there was some relief for Schneider when the Seahawks finalized a three-year contract with cornerback Cary Williams on Tuesday, the first day players could sign with new teams. Williams' deal is worth up to $18 million.

''We felt like we needed to do it early because of the competition at the cornerback position and feel blessed we were able to finish it up last night,'' Schneider said.

Seattle lost starting cornerback Byron Maxwell to Philadelphia and there are questions about the health of Jeremy Lane, Tharold Simon and even All-Pro Richard Sherman. The position group that has been Seattle's strength needed reinforcement.

Williams started every game the past four seasons, two of those with Philadelphia and two with Baltimore, where he won a Super Bowl. Last season he had 59 tackles, nine passes defensed and two interceptions for the Eagles. Williams has nine interceptions over the past three seasons.

Williams was thrown at plenty during his two seasons in Philadelphia. According to STATS, Williams was targeted 96 times in 2014 - tied for 11th most in the NFL - and allowed 51 receptions. In 2013, his first season with the Eagles, Williams was targeted 124 times, the most in the NFL.

But Seattle needs depth and at 6-foot-1, Williams fits the body type the Seahawks wants in their cornerbacks.

''I think with Cary first and foremost it starts with his length and his height and his aggressiveness, and the style of play that we have here playing a lot of press,'' Schneider said. ''He's a guy that the year Baltimore won the Super Bowl he finished the season extremely strong. He had a great year that year and really stood out, and that's when Philly went after him.''

Williams was the second cornerback signed by Seattle; the Seahawks brought back Will Blackmon on Monday. Blackmon was with Seattle during the 2013 offseason before being released and signing with Jacksonville.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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