‘They wanted me there’: How Kerry Hyder Jr. ended up with the Seahawks
In talking with new Seahawks pass rusher Kerry Hyder Jr., you get the sense that he wants to be wanted.
To his credit, what player wouldn’t feel that way about his team? After all, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve spent the bulk of the NFL offseason hearing about Russell Wilson’s frustration with the Seahawks’ failure to protect him with a top-ranked offensive line. You may have also heard Aaron Rodgers openly questioning his future in Green Bay, or Tom Brady pleading the fifth when asked whether he felt appreciated by Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. After the Seahawks declined to match the 49ers’ offer to Richard Sherman in 2018, Sherman signed with Seattle’s NFC West foe, citing their “genuine interest.”
Those players are or have been top-paid stars, and deservedly so. All except for Hyder, that is. It’s what makes his desire to be wanted all the more relatable.
The road to Seattle
Consider Hyder’s path to the NFL: Hyder was a three-star recruit from Austin, TX whose size (6-foot-2, 280) made him a bit of a tweener on the defensive line. He eventually received a scholarship offer from Texas Tech under then-head coach Mike Leach in 2009. He went undrafted in 2014 and signed with the New York Jets that spring, only to be released and signed to the practice squad. The following season, Hyder signed with the Lions, once again landing on a practice squad after falling short of the 53-man roster.
Then came the first big change for Hyder, this one based one something he controlled: diet. Sports Illustrated’s Emily Kaplan profiled Hyder in 2016 and detailed a trying offseason in which Hyder was faced with incoming competition on the D-line. Facing uncertainty about his future, he contemplated a career out of football so he could continue to support his family. He first took the team’s advice to switch to defensive end and spent the offseason transforming his body. He went through daily workouts, weigh ins, and meal prep (with planning help from his wife, Jasmine, a former Arizona State hurdling star) and lost 35 pounds.
Then came another change, this one out of Hyder’s control: injury and opportunity. Starting defensive end Ezekiel Ansah suffered an ankle injury in Week 2 and Hyder, who had finally made the 53-man roster, was called into a more regular starting role. He had a breakout year and ended up leading the team with eight sacks (twice that of the next-closest player), 11 tackles for loss, and 19 quarterback hits.
Hyder entered the 2017 season having proven himself a capable pass rusher, worthy of a spot on the 53-man roster. And for the first time, that spot felt assured. But then came a gut-punch: Hyder, who had become a breakout star for the Lions the year prior, suffered a torn Achilles in the first quarter of the Lions’ preseason opener against the Indianapolis Colts. He was carted off the field, his 2017 season having ended before it began.
Thankfully, it wasn’t the end to his career.
Perhaps for Lions fans watching Hyder from afar in 2020 it wasn’t a surprise when he was once again called on to fill in for an injured starter and performed admirably. The 29-year-old started in place of 49ers star edge rusher Nick Bosa and finished the 2020 season leading the 49ers with 8.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, and 18 quarterback hits.
Hyder entered the new year as a free agent and ultimately landed with Seattle on a three-year deal, $16.5 million deal.
“They wanted me there”
When Hyder entered free agency after a career year with the 49ers, he was going to see more suiters than ever. So what made the Seahawks a fit?
“They let me know that they enjoyed the way I played,” Hyder said during an interview with Stacy Rost and Michael Bumpus on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Friday. “They complimented the way I ran to the ball, the way I hustled, and pretty much my whole journey… the main thing is they wanted me there, so it made it an easy decision for me.”
Hyder is still living and training in Dallas and hasn’t yet made the move to Seattle with his wife and six-year-old daughter, though he plans to head to Washington state early. Seattle is getting a player who describes himself as “a chill guy.”
“I’m a guy that watches the same shows over and over again, the same movies,” he said, mentioning Family Guy as one favorite currently on rotation. “I like knowing the ending. I don’t like too many surprises. I’m a really chill guy and I like investing my time in stuff I know is going to work out for me.”
As a player, Hyder is able to play both inside and outside, making him a versatile option that fits the mold of someone like Michael Bennett.
That’s easier said than done, though; Bennett was one of the most productive defensive players during Carroll’s tenure. But Hyder seems up for the challenge.
Considering his production last season, and his multi-year deal with the Seahawks, Hyder seems the likely starter at the five-technique defensive end position, with Carlos Dunlap at Leo. L.J. Collier, who was drafted as a five-tech, could see more reps inside, along with veteran tackle Al Woods. Newly re-signed defensive tackle Poona Ford is inked in as the second interior starter.
It’s a defensive line the Seahawks are surely hoping will be as competitive as ever in the NFL’s toughest division.
Listen to Hyder’s full interview with Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.