This isn’t what Seattle’s “12s” had in mind.
It’s now an even dozen former starters that have left the Seahawks or been set off into free agency in the last two weeks.
Luke Willson officially became No. 12 on Wednesday when he signed a one-year contract as a free agent with his home-area Detroit Lions. The native of LaSalle, Ontario, across the border from Detroit, reportedly got $2.5 million plus the opportunity to earn more in incentive bonuses from the Lions in 2018.
Willson posted on his Twitter account (@LWill son_82) his thrill of playing for his hometown team, along with a picture of him as a kid wearing a replica Lions uniform of Hall-of- Fame running back Barry Sanders at Halloween: “It’s official! Been dreaming of this since i was a kid. Time to get to work!! #OnePride”
Seattle’s No. 2 tight end for the last five seasons, his only five in the NFL since the Seahawks drafted him in the fifth round in 2013 out of Rice, posted his Seattle farewell online late Tuesday night. The Seahawks let his one-year contract he had extended this time last year expire at the end of the 2017.
“As my time in Seattle comes to an end and I reflect on the past 5 years, I am filled with gratitude,” Willson wrote online. “All I can say is thank you… It was incredible!”
Willson joins 11 other players who have started for the Seahawks and are now either gone from Seattle or free as of this month to sign with other teams: Michael Bennett (traded to Philadelphia), Richard Sherman (waived, signed with San Francisco), Jimmy Graham (free-agent contract with Green Bay), Jeremy Lane (released, still unsigned), DeShawn Shead (released, signed with Detroit), Paul Richardson (free-agent deal with Washington), Sheldon Richardson (free-agent deal with Minnesota), Mike Davis (not tendered a contract for 2018, now an unsigned free agent), Thomas Rawls (not tendered a contract, now an unsigned free agent), Luke Joeckel (unsigned free agent) and Oday Aboushi (unsigned free agent).
In that span the Seahawks have signed five outside free agents: linebacker Barkevious Mingo (from Indianapolis), tight end Ed Dickson (from Carolina), strong safety Maurice Alexander (from the Rams), wide receiver Jaron Brown (from Arizona) and — made official by the Seahawks on Wednesday — offensive lineman D.J. Fluker on a one-year contract.
Fluker, the 11th-overall draft choice by the Chargers in 2013, will initially get a try at right guard.
ESPN reported Wednesday Brown’s deal he agreed to last weekend with Seattle is for two years and $5.5 million. It includes $2.75 million guaranteed from an $800,000 base salary for 2018, with a signing bonus of $1.95 million. That’s a salary-cap charge of $1,775,000 for this year, a minimal-risk deal for a receiver who has been a third and fourth option all five of his years in the league with the Cardinals. His career-high in catches for a season is 31, in 2017.
Willson, 28, made free-agent visits to the Lions, Jacksonville and Carolina in the last week. Detroit was his obvious first choice. He and wide receiver Golden Tate, his Seahawks teammate when Willson was a rookie, will reunite on the Lions. Detroit let starting tight end Eric Ebron go last week.
Willson was an outgoing, at-times goofy voice of the personality-filled Seahawks locker room. He was the one behind the team’s zany “Techno Thursday” movement of dance music playing incessantly and laughably short shorts. Willson and most teammates through quarterback Russell Wilson wore those through practices on Thursdays all last season.
Willson blared techno music from a retro, neon-green boom box off the locker room’s walls most Thursdays, and many other days last season.
Willson had 15, 15, 17, 22 and 20 catches, with 11 touchdowns total, in his five years with the team.
His most famous Seahawks play will always be his wild, across-the- field catch for a two-point conversion on a jump-ball pass from Wilson late in regulation of the NFC championship game against Green Bay in January 2015. It helped ensure the overtime period that day in which Seattle won and advanced to Super Bowl 49.
The Seahawks signed Dickson last week to a three-year contract worth $14 million, with $3.6 million guaranteed to him this year.
Cleveland.com reported free-agent wide receiver Terrelle Pryor was down to choosing between the Seahawks and New York Jets on a new contract.
Pryor, 28, was a backup quarterback to Wilson in Seattle during the 2014 preseason. He signed with the Browns for the 2015 season, converted to wide receiver then had a career-high 77 catches for 1,007 yards for Cleveland in 2016. He signed a one-year, prove-it deal with Washington in 2017 but proved little. He had 20 receptions in nine games before Washington let him become a free agent again this month.