It was only a few hours after I wrote about the Seahawks’ pass-rushing needs that they went on to sign a pair of edge pieces in Benson Mayowa and Kerry Hyder Jr. As I outlined in the article, by creating cap space with the release of Carlos Dunlap in order to address a mountain of needs all over their roster, Seattle added one more to the top of the list: defensive end.
After witnessing the negative impact of neglecting the position first-hand in the first half of 2020, the Seahawks could not put it on the backburner once again. Despite their current cap restrictions, I felt it was imperative for them to find a way to beef up their pass-rushing unit—and that’s what they did Tuesday afternoon.
Utilizing similar contract structuring to the deal they inked running back Chris Carson to last Friday, the Seahawks took out their proverbial credit card and added a pair of edge rushers who combined for 14.5 sacks in 2020. Re-signing Mayowa and poaching Hyder from San Francisco, Seattle now has a fairly deep group consisting of Alton Robinson, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, and 2020 second-rounder Darrell Taylor.
On Monday, I graded every acquisition the Seahawks made in the first week of free agency. Continuing this, let’s take a deeper look into each of these two moves.
Re-signed DE Benson Mayowa to two-year, $8.5 million contract
Technically, this is a four-year deal, but the last two years are voidable so the financially burdened Seahawks can spread Mayowa’s cap hit out over the next few seasons. The dollar amounts on those final two years are unknown as of this writing, but they ultimately don’t matter; this is a two-year contract worth $8.5 million. And that’s a great deal for Mayowa, who’s coming off a strong finish to the 2020 season. In fact, it’s only $500,000 off of the prediction I set for him earlier this month.
Mayowa isn't a lead dog, double-digit sack type of rusher, but he’s proven to be a strong rotational piece over the past few seasons. The arrival of Dunlap in the second half of 2020 seemed to have helped Mayowa - along with the rest of the Seahawks’ defensive line - find more success in getting to the quarterback. In that time, the nine-year veteran recorded 4.0 of his 6.0 sacks on 20 of 36 pressures in the regular season and playoffs combined, per Pro Football Focus. He also played well against the run, especially late in the season, despite a below-average 53.0 grade in that department from PFF.
The reunion with Mayowa always felt like a matter of ‘when’ - not ‘if’ - this offseason. Finally, the two sides came to an agreement, setting the Seahawks up with some nice veteran depth atop a rather young position group. This move is more of a floor-raiser, but an arguably necessary one given their struggles at the spot in recent memory.
Signed DE Kerry Hyder Jr. to three-year, $16.5 million contract
For the third signing in a row by the Seahawks, this contract has - you guessed it - a voidable year. Hyder is not going to see the third and final year of this deal, nor the $10 million salary it carries. Ultimately, it’s a two-year, $6.5 million deal for the former undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech.
Turning 30 in early May, Hyder has seemingly returned to form following an uphill climb from a torn Achilles suffered in a 2017 preseason game. That injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Hyder, who broke out to the tune of 8.0 sacks with Detroit the season prior. Only seeing 592 snaps between the Lions and Cowboys over his next two seasons played, he finally got an opportunity to play often for the 49ers after they were decimated by injuries along their defensive line last year. Breaking his career-high in sacks with 8.5 on 55 pressures, he was Robert Saleh’s most effective and consistent pass-rusher in his final year as San Francisco’s defensive coordinator.
While they’re essentially buying stock in just one year of recent production, the Seahawks aren’t assuming a huge risk with Hyder. At an expected annual salary of $3.25 million over the next two seasons and an even lower salary cap hit in 2021, this isn’t as significant of an investment as it may initially appear. This could be incredible value for a player who just came off the best season of his life at a premium position. And with the anticipation that Hyder will be a five-tech strong-side defensive end in Seattle, the door may still be open for the two-time Pro Bowler Dunlap to make his return to the Pacific Northwest and pair up with Mayowa and Taylor at LEO.