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Seahawks agree to three-year deal with Ahtyba Rubin

Ahtyba Rubin started every game for Seattle last season while playing on a one-year deal. (AP)

The Seahawks have agreed to terms on a three-year deal with defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, locking up a key part of their run defense before the start of free agency.

The Seahawks announced the agreement Monday evening but did not reveal the terms. A league source confirmed that it’s for three years, which was first reported by Mike
Garafolo of FOX Sports. Garafolo has since reported that it’s worth $4 million per season.

Related: What to expect from the Seahawks as free agency begins

Rubin, 29, made $2.6 million in 2015 while playing on a one-year deal, signing with the Seahawks in March after spending his first seven seasons in Cleveland. He started every game for Seattle and made 36 tackles during the regular season while helping anchor a run defense that finished No. 1 in the NFL.

Rubin was one of 17 Seahawks set to become unrestricted free agents, a group that includes seven starters.

Garafolo stated that he was a priority for Seattle. That much is evident based on the timing of his deal, which comes two days before the start of free agency and marks the first major move of Seattle’s offseason. And it’s not a surprise that the Seahawks would consider Rubin as such given the season he had as well as their situation at defensive tackle with Brandon Mebane also set to become an unrestricted free agent and no proven in-house replacement for either player.

Coach Pete Carroll raved all season about Rubin’s play, at one point saying that he has been the best three-technique defensive tackle that Seattle has had in recent seasons. Carroll mentioned on several occasions how well Rubin pursues the football for a player his size, a trait that proved especially valuable during Seattle’s wild-card win over Minnesota when he recovered a late fumble 13 yards down field.

“He’s really solid now. He is as tough as you get. You can’t move the dude and he pursues the football really well,” Carroll told “Brock and Salk” in December before volunteering a superlative. “I think he’s been the most effective guy playing 3-technique for us that we’ve had, and most consistent. He just won’t budge. The harder it gets, the tougher he gets and the more he ain’t going to move anywhere.

“That position in our defense, we play a lot of over defense, he’s on the tight-end side a lot, and there’s a lot of plays that go right at him and he gets doubled a bunch. He’s fantastic at doing that so he has been instrumental.”

And he might have been difficult to replace. Jordan Hill has the most experience of the other defensive tackles on Seattle’s roster, and he’s only started one game over his three seasons while missing 21 of them due to injuries. The Seahawks could have looked for a veteran in free agency, but they may have had a hard time finding anyone who is equally as effective yet cheaper than Rubin.

That helps explain why the Seahawks are locking up Rubin before the start of free agency, and why they made it a priority to do so.

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