Seahawks free agents: Will ‘legitimate play-maker’ Mychal Kendricks return?

Feb 13, 2020, 11:53 AM
Seahawks LB Mychal Kendricks...
Seahawks starting LB Mychal Kendricks finished the season with 71 tackles and 3.0 sacks. (Getty)

How can the Seahawks get back to a Super Bowl in 2020?

Previously in the series: Free-agent RBs Marshawn Lynch & C.J. Prosise

That’s the question Tom Wassell, Jake Heaps and I will be asking on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy over the next few months as we go through our Seahawks “offseason project” series, which will be broken up into four phases. On Tuesday, we looked at tight ends Luke Willson and Jacob Hollister (a restricted free agent). On Wednesday, we previewed linebacker Mychal Kendricks.

You can hear every new segment of this series at 2 p.m. every day on Tom, Jake and Stacy. Here’s a look at what you need to know about Willson, Hollister, and Kendricks, and the chances of them returning to Seattle in 2020.

Seahawks profiles

Luke Willson

Age: 30
2019 season: 8 games, 8 receptions for 79 yards
Last contract: 1 year, $805,000

Jacob Hollister (RFA)

Age: 26
2019 season: 11 games, 41 receptions for 349 yards and 3 touchdowns
Last contract: 1 year, $645,00

Hollister became the unsung hero of Seattle’s tight end room in 2019. The Seahawks needed a third target for Russell Wilson after Will Dissly suffered a season-ending Achilles tear, and the undersized Hollister stepped up, which was a pleasant surprise for Seattle since the 26-year-old former Patriot was among the team’s roster cuts in September. Hollister spent the first few weeks of the year on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster in Week 6. After a few weeks of special team reps, Hollister started in a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The third start of his career ended up being his first multi-touchdown game; Hollister finished with four receptions for 47 yards and a pair of TDs, the latter of which won the game for Seattle in overtime.

Hollister is an unrestricted free agent, a designation reserved for players who have reached the end of their contracts but have accrued just three seasons. That means the Seahawks have two choices: give him a first-, second-, original round-, or right-of-first-refusal “tender,” each of which carries a salary ranging from $2 million to just over $4 million. While Hollister can negotiate with other teams, the Seahawks would have the opportunity to match any offer. Or, they can decline to tender him and let him become an unrestricted free agent.

Tendering Hollister seems much more likely given his production in 2019. The team has taken this approach in the past with tackle/tight end George Fant and wide receiver Doug Baldwin.

Dissly’s recovery and Seattle’s decision on Hollister will probably dictate how the Seahawks approach Willson, who was signed out of free agency during the 2019 season after Seattle traded another tight end, Nick Vannett, to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had been cut by Oakland after spending training camp and the preseason with the Raiders and didn’t make his 2019 debut until Week 4 as a result.

Mychal Kendricks

Age: 29
2019 season: 14 games, 47 solo tackles, 3.0 sacks, 4 passes defended, 1 interception
Last contract: 1 year, $4.5M

We previewed Kendricks on Wednesday’s show (you can listen to that profile here). Kendricks landed on the injured reserve with an ACL tear to end his season, but head coach Pete Carroll notably offered an unprompted endorsement of Kendricks afterward.

“I really like the way he plays,” Carroll said. “I like what Mike brings this season. He’s a very active player, he’s an unusually instinctive, athletic guy for the position… I hope that we’ll get him back with us and I look forward to that.”

Here’s what Jake Heaps had to say about the former Eagles’ second-round pick:

“His skill set is so unique that it forced the Seahawks to play base personnel throughout the season, more than any other team in the NFL,” Heaps said. “The reason? Mychal Kendricks. They had to find a way to get him on the field. As Pete Carroll said, he had elite 4.4 speed to give him that ability to play in space and be a great player over the slots. It was controversial, but in terms of Mychal Kendricks (himself) and what he brought to the team, it’s something that can’t be ignored. He played at a high level at a position that he’s not normally played throughout his career – he’s normally a (middle) and (weak side) linebacker – but the Seahawks asked him to play SAM linebacker and he made tremendous plays. Mychal Kendricks is a guy that I would love to have back here, but his situation is a bit muddy: he’s coming off an ACL tear and you don’t know what his legal situation is currently. But his last contract was a one-year, $4.5 million deal, and that’s something the Seahawks could re-do once again and still get great value from him. He’s a legitimate play-maker that you’d love to have on this roster.”

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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