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Nick Patterson | npatterson@heraldnet.com
Published: Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 2:29 p.m.

Seahawks defense popular in free agency

It took less than an hour of free agency to get an idea of just how much the rest of the NFL values what the Seahawks have on defense.

A day after the Seahawks locked up Michael Bennett, keeping one of their most important players from hitting the open market, they have already lost two players off of their Super Bowl winning defense to free agency.

What's especially noteworthy is that the former Seahawks who have quickly been snatched up aren't even starters. Almost as soon as free agency began at 1 p.m. PT, word came down that Clinton McDonald, a defensive tackle who was a key part of Seattle's nickel package, will sign with Tampa Bay.

McDonald, who originally came to Seattle in a trade that sent cornerback Kelly Jennings to Cincinnati, was released before the start of last season in a cost-saving move. He re-signed with Seattle not long after, and went on to have his most productive season, piling up 5.5 sacks, a big number for an interior pass rusher.

Not long after the McDonald news came out, ProFootballTalk.com reported that O'Brien Schofield is heading to the New York Giants on a two-year, $8 million deal. For a little perspective on how different free agency is this year than last, consider that Michael Bennett, considered one of the best pass rushers available last offseason, got "only" $4.8 million for one season last year, while Schofield, who didn't play much this season outside of special teams duty, got nearly double that for two years (though it remains to be seen how much of that contract is guaranteed).

In addition to those two players leaving, the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be targeting free agent cornerback Walter Thurmond. Despite an earlier report that Thurmond was signing with Jacksonville, nothing is done yet, but considering the Seattle-to-Jacksonville pipeline we've seen since Gus Bradley became the Jaguars head coach, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see that happen eventually.

Story tags » Seahawks

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