Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse is coming back to the Seahawks after all.
After reportedly saying before the start of free agency that he was moving on and looking forward to finding his new team, Kearse is returning to his old team on a three-year deal. Seahawks owner Paul Allen announced those terms Thursday evening, confirming earlier reports.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, it’s worth $13.5 million. That’s comparable to the three-year, $13 million that Seattle gave Doug Baldwin two years ago.
Based on the course of events – with Kearse reportedly indicating his intention to leave only to re-sign with Seattle – it would seem that he found a softer market for his services than he had expected or at least hoped. Whereas other No. 2 wide receivers found free-agent deals worth $6 million to $8 million per year over the last two days, Kearse’s will reportedly average $4.5 million.
That still represents a sizable raise – nearly double – from the $2.356 million that he made last year as a restricted free agent. Kearse was paid the league minimum over his first three seasons as an undrafted free agent.
And it keeps Kearse home. A Lakewood, Wash., native who played collegiately for the Huskies, Kearse said at the end of the season that he would prefer to stay put while giving the usual and understandable qualifiers about football being a business and having to do what’s best for his family.
Kearse’s about-face means Seattle’s top three wide receivers – Baldwin and Tyler Lockette being the others – are all back in the fold. Kearse set career-highs last season with 49 catches, 685 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season, then added to his stellar playoff resume with two more touchdown catches in Seattle’s divisional-round loss to Carolina. He owns the franchise record for postseason touchdown catches.
And Kearse’s return spares the Seahawks from losing another starter after a free-agent exodus over the last two days saw linebacker Bruce Irvin, right guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane all sign elsewhere. Kearse is the third Seahawks starter to re-sign with Seattle following defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and cornerback Jeremy Lane. Of Seattle’s unrestricted free agents, left tackle Russell Okung is the only one who remains unsigned.