Kearse returning to Seahawks on 3-year deal

The hometown boy is staying home.

The Seattle Seahawks reached an agreement Thursday to re-sign wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

A week ago it seemed unlikely the Seahawks would be able to bring back their starting receiver, who was an unrestricted free agent. However, it seems the tide turned, with the Seahawks confirming it’s a three-year deal and Ian Rapoport of reporting it’s for $13.5 million. That averages out at $4.5 million per season. Kearse made $2.356 million last season.

The storybook tale continues for Kearse, who hails from Lakewood near Tacoma and played collegiately at the University of Washington. He rose from being an undrafted free agent with the Seahawks in 2012 to becoming a starter and making some of the most memorable catches in franchise history, particularly during the postseason. He had his best season as a pro in 2015 when he caught 49 passes for 685 yards and five touchdowns.

“He’s a terrific player. He really is,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said at the end of the season in January. “I don’t know if other people appreciate him like we do. We love him in our system and we’d love him to stay with us.”

Kearse said after the season ended that he wanted to remain with the Seahawks, but that he wouldn’t take a hometown discount. That appeared to put Seattle in a difficult position to re-sign Kearse, given the team’s limitations under the salary cap. Then rumors surfaced last week that Kearse wouldn’t return to the Seahawks.

However, on the second day of the NFL’s free-agency period, Seattle was able to bring Kearse back.

“He continues to, in the big game settings, he just seems to make big plays happen,” Carroll said. “He can do it all throughout the year, but he seems to have a knack for being in the right place to make a special play, and they’re not easy either.”

Now the Seahawks will have their top three receivers from last season all back — Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett — along with the prospect of getting tight end Jimmy Graham back from his knee injury.

Kearse became the third starter who was an unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the Seahawks, joining defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and cornerback Jeremy Lane. Linebacker Bruce Irvin (Oakland), defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (San Diego) and guard J.R. Sweezy (Tampa Bay) all signed elsewhere.

Seattle has one starter who was an unrestricted free agent remaining on the market, that being tackle Russell Okung. Multiple outlets reported Okung was scheduled to meet with the New York Giants and Detroit Lions on Friday.

Reports also emerged Thursday placing Lane’s deal at four years and $23 million, an average of $5.75 million per season. Lane made $691,279 last season.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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