After losing six unrestricted free agents to other teams during the legal tampering period, the Seattle Seahawks finally became active on Wednesday, filling several roster needs for the 2019 season.
Among their notable moves, Seattle surprisingly re-signed both K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks to team up with All-Pro Bobby Wagner, potentially giving the Seahawks the best linebacker group in the NFL.
In an interview with Sports Radio KJR, Wright told hosts Cliff Avril and Jason Puckett that after learning Seattle had re-signed Kendricks, he thought he was “toast” and would wind up with a new team. But unexpectedly, the Seahawks made him a two-year offer worth up to $15.5 million and he happily signed the dotted line.
Wright admitted to Avril and Puckett that the Seahawks would have to be creative trying to play him, Wagner, and Kendricks on the field at the same time, but the presence of all three players could put linebacker Barkevious Mingo’s status with the team in jeopardy.
Seattle signed Mingo to a two-year contract last March worth $6.8 million and the former top-10 pick was expected to play SAM linebacker while also seeing action as a situational pass rusher in sub-packages.
During his first season with the Seahawks, Mingo stepped up when called upon, playing well in two starts at weakside linebacker replacing an injured Wright. Having never played the position before, he learned on the fly and recorded a team-best seven tackles in a Week 5 loss to the Rams.
Starting a total of 14 games and proving to be one of the team’s best special teams players, Mingo finished the season with a career-high 48 tackles and two forced fumbles while also playing 52 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps.
But as has been the case for most of his NFL career, Mingo disappointed as a pass rushing presence, registering only two quarterback hits and one sack in 16 games.
Early in the season, Seattle utilized him frequently as a situational pass rusher, but by the end of the season, rookie Jacob Martin had supplanted him in that role. Martin wound up with 3.0 sacks during the second half of the season, proving to be far more productive than his predecessor.
If Wright would have left in free agency as many predicted, the Seahawks wouldn’t have been wise to cut ties with Mingo, who offers experience at multiple positions and excels on multiple special teams units. With Kendricks still facing sentencing for insider trading on April 4 and his status for next season unknown, Seattle would’ve put themselves in a position where only Austin Calitro and Shaquem Griffin remained as options at weakside linebacker.
Now that Wright and Kendricks could both be on the roster, Seattle could consider moving on from Mingo, who carries a significant $5.9 million cap hit next year. That’s a hefty price to pay for a backup who hasn’t proven himself as a consistent pass rusher and will be primarily play special teams.
By releasing him anytime before June 1, Seattle would create $4.1 million in cap room. Making a move soon would potentially allow the Seahawks to make a play for another quality free agent such as pass rushers Ezekiel Ansah and Justin Houston.
But luckily, the Seahawks don’t have to rush into any decisions. Mingo’s presence as a special teams stalwart and versatile reserve defender may be well worth retaining him at his current price. Most importantly, he’d provide excellent insurance given Wright’s recent injury history and Kendricks ongoing legal circumstances.