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Seahawks UDFA: The Biggest Signing Bonus
Who got paid the most to choose Seattle after the draft? Seaside Joe 1526
In a world where the Seattle Seahawks have to sign dozens of players after the draft to fill out the roster, it can be difficult to project which of them have the best odds of being the next Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, or Poona Ford. To say, “Well they have this in common or that in common” like they were all overlooked for one reason or another—too short, too slow, too inexperienced, not enough production—is to simply point out why they went undrafted in the first place.
Like San Diego State defensive tackle Jonah Tavai, who stands 5’10, 283, with 29.5” arms and perhaps the shortest wingspan of any player at his position currently signed with an NFL team. For Tavai to post 28 tackles for a loss and 19 sacks over the past two seasons and not be drafted, is in itself quite damning.
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Or UCLA’s Jake Bobo, a 6’5 Pac-12 receiver who had 817 yards and seven touchdowns as one of the team’s most outstanding leaders last season, but who’s 40-yard dash time of 4.94 was the worst of the class. In fact, of the 56 receivers listed in Dane Brugler’s “The Beast” draft guide, the second-worst was 4.66. That’s a mind-bending difference, but nowhere near the gap between Bobo and one of Seattle’s other undrafted free agent signings at receiver: Arkansas’ Matt Landers ran a 4.37 at roughly the same size.
The difference between me and Bobo’s 40-time may literally be smaller than the gap between Bobo and Landers.
But I wouldn’t project Landers to make the Seahawks final roster either. He’s joining a receivers room that has three players locked into the final 53, and probably a fourth because Dareke Young oozes the skills and desire to play special teams that Landers reportedly lacks; at 6’4, 200, he is a lanky receiver who lacks a muscular build (by comparison, Young is 6’2, 224) and reportedly showed little interest in helping on the side of the ball, as well as for blocking as a receiver. Landers is a one-trick pony as an outside receiver with crazy speed and yet he won’t win many 50/50 balls and he best projects as an emergency option behind DK Metcalf, which is not usually how a team uses their fifth or sixth receiver slot on the roster.
In that sense, he is perhaps most reminiscent of Chris Matthews, Seattle’s last-ditch effort following a string of injuries in the 2014 playoffs. Matthews had over 100 yards in the Super Bowl loss and yet he was all but out of the NFL by the following offseason.
And another Seahawks undrafted free agent often highlighted is Lance Boykin of Coastal Carolina, who I hope is there largely to give Pete Carroll a personal scouting report on Grayson McCall. Boykin was a productive member of Coastal’s secondary after transferring from Old Dominion in 2021, posting five interceptions and 12 batted passes in 22 games. However, like Bobo, he’s the slowest member of his position group: 4.70 in the 40-yard dash and 1.66 in the 10-yard split. He’s not going to be able to cover NFL receivers without help and he finds himself in a position group with probably five or six players already locked into the final roster, more if we’re including those with position versatility at safety.
The other day, I wrote about Seattle parting with Al Woods and Poona Ford, among other defensive linemen this offseason, and how it could help undrafted free agent Robert Cooper sneak onto the roster at the final hour. He’s a bit of a wild card because we have no testing numbers on Cooper, which is sort of working in his favor right now; better than being lumped in with Bobo and Boykin.
Ifeanyi Maijeh is an undrafted signing out of Rutgers though who is 6’1, 289—so not the 330 lb chunkster you were looking for—who might have the length and strength to make the NFL with adequate testing in the three-cone, but nothing known for the 40-yard dash. He, too, is a longshot and a reason why the Seahawks simply aren’t done adding players to their defensive line.
So, how do we do this? How do we diagnose the undrafted player who has the highest odds of making the final roster? Same as you would track me down if I pulled off the greatest heist in the history of Seattle’s banking industry…follow the money.
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Who got the biggest signing bonus?
The biggest signing bonus I could find from the 2022 undrafted free agent class was $13,000 for safety Joey Blount.
Did Joey Blount make the final roster last year?
Joey Blount made the final 53-man roster last year. In fact, he was the only undrafted free agent rookie to make the final 53-man roster in 2022.
Now, there haven’t been many reported signing bonuses with this undrafted free agent class yet. Running back Chris Smith out of Louisiana got $6,500 to choose the Seahawks over other suitors. Though he’s rarely going to be carrying the ball in the NFL (Smith is 5’8, 194 lbs), he had 126 attempts for 624 yards and three touchdowns last season with 21 catches for 155 yards. Smith ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at his pro day but the part that feels like it must be a typo to me…Brugler’s data says that Smith ran a 1.40 in the 10-yard split.
I’ve never seen that before. I feel like it has to be a 1.50 or something. There’s one other player listed here who ran a 1.44, but breaking 1.50 is in itself insane. Still, the Seahawks have yet to bring back Godwin Igwebuike and maybe they won’t; perhaps the $6,500 is to assure that Smith will be in the competition to be Seattle’s kick returner in 2023. He had two kickoff return touchdowns in 2020.
But you know what’s better than $6,500? $15,000.
The Seahawks gave Iowa State defensive end M.J. Anderson a $15,000 signing bonus, which is more than they paid Blount in 2022. And with Seattle lacking players of his frame—6’2, 269 lbs, putting him somewhere in the vicinity of Darrell Taylor, Bruce Irvin, and Boye Mafe, but with less athleticism—Anderson has an opportunity to compete as depth behind a group that has struggled to be healthy or consistent.
Seattle didn’t have Tyreke Smith or Alton Robinson for all of last season. They have not re-signed Bruce Irvin as of this newsletter. They sort of benched Taylor for a while last season. They tried to go to Mafe, but had to go back to Taylor. They didn’t pick a first round edge rusher, then selected Derick Hall and Mike Morris, one of whom is smaller and one of whom is much bigger than Anderson.
Anderson has a shot at developing into an NFL pass rusher and edge setter, but is inexperienced, raw, and went undrafted because teams surely aren’t betting that he will get there. However, the Seahawks gave him $15,000 upfront because they want to be the ones to try and perhaps they also think they can sneak him onto the special teams unit as he develops; the team has parted with Tanner Muse and Cody Barton, two big-bodied defensive players who were second and third on the Seahawks in special teams snaps in 2022.
If you’re looking left, right, and center for the top undrafted free agent before rookie minicamps, OTAs, and training camp, good luck. But with nothing else to go on, just follow the money.
As far as what’s been reported, Seattle is banking on M.J. Anderson above the other 20-something names.
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