With some cap space still remaining, the Seahawks could leverage (at least) one more big free agency signing. Facing big question marks in the LB group, defensive line (especially our 3-Tech) and secondary (cornerback and strong safety), our defensive-minded coach once again goes offense. It's been pretty clear both our OC Darrell Bevell and assistant HC/O-line coach Tom Cable have Pete Carroll's ear on free agency decisions. This is once again highlighted by the signing of former Oakland Raiders TE Zach Miller, as reported by John Clayton. The contract as reported by Adam Schefter is a 5-year, $34 million contract with $17 million guaranteed. It's on the side of overpaying, but roughly in the expected ballpark.
Zach Miller was the 38th overall pick in the 2007 draft and is a free agent due to the new CBA. The Oakland Raiders had tendered him at a 1st and 3rd as a RFA, but used their franchise tag on OLB Kamerion Wimbley, who was since extended to a five-year $48 million contract. Only 25 years old, Zach Miller has been a very productive TE on Oakland Raiders while catching passes from all-world QBs like JaMarcus Russell, Charlie Frye, Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell.
Despite this (or perhaps due to this), Miller has been the most productive and consistent receiver on the Raiders franchise during his tenure, catching over 50 balls for 750+ yards per season over the last three years. Even when hobbled by a plantar fascia (foot) injury last season, he still tallied 60 receptions for 685 yards and 5 TDs, was named an alternate to the pro bowl and slid in as Antonio Gates checked out. He ranked a top-10 pass-catching TE in most key categories, including catches of 20+ yards.
Miller fits into the run-heavy offense the Seahawks are trying to set up perfectly. He can provide a lot of value as an outlet for a mediocre QB, gaining good yard after the reception on short routers. To put it in my best punditees, "the guy makes plays with the ball in his hands". He's not fast but he runs his routes well, is good at finding weak spots in coverage and has soft hands. On top of that, I do recall him being of value as a run blocker for the Raiders. Without doing some tape reviewing I don't want to say much on his overall pass blocking, but I remember him being pretty dependable.
Overall, this fits pretty damn well in with what we've been seeing from our FO. Miller is a top-tier talent hidden on pretty bad offenses. Between improving the offensive line (and thus rungame), getting Sidney Rice, extending Mike Williams and now getting the 6'5 Zach Miller, we're making it as easy as possible for our QB to succeed. There'll be a ton of growing pains with the offensive line and the offense should be slowed down by the short off-season, so don't necessarily expect it to hit the ground running this year. But when we finally get our QB of the future (hopefully next year), he has a pretty QB-friendly offense to step into.
We already had a lot of talent at TE prior to this move, so it was hardly a move based on pressing need. Between Miller, John Carlson, Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah (currently injured), we have a lot of talent, and some assume Carlson is on the outs. Bates would've liked to run with all these guys on the roster but I don't know that Bevell would. It's not impossible though. Perhaps they'll do something novel again and bump over Carlson to slot receiver. A very big slot receiver.