SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25: Alfonso Smith #46 of the Arizona Cardinals stretches for a first down as he is hit by Clinton McDonald #69 of the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
According to a source for KJR and AP reporter Curtis Crabtree, the Seahawks have exercised their exclusive rights to defensive tackle Clinton McDonald, meaning he stays with the team this year (making $540,000 base salary, per that report), then becomes a restricted free agent after the season.
McDonald showed some promise as a rotational defensive tackle last season after being acquired in a trade with the Bengals for CB Kelly Jennings. McDonald is 6'2, 297 and still only 25 years old, and got action in fifteen games for the Hawks last year. He saw anywhere from around 20-30 snaps a game on average towards the end of the season, in base, nickel and goal line formations, according to our charting.
In Week 12, against the Redskins, McDonald replaced a banged up Alan Branch at the 3-tech DT spot and played 57 of 64 total defensive snaps in backup duties. So, it does seem to be a rather important move for the club, though expected, and McDonald's ability to provide quality depth on the line is important.
The Seahawks defensive line depth has improved over the past couple of seasons, and the presumptive starting line of Brandon Mebane, Alan Branch, Chris Clemons and Red Bryant that will be used in rotation with newly acquired Jason Jones, quality backup in Clinton McDonald, and now possibly, free agent Aubrayo Franklin (though, that remains to be seen). Add Dexter Davis, Pep Levingston and even possibly Jameson Konz into the mix as situational pass rushers (plus unknowns in John Graves, Adrian Taylor, and Pierre Allen), plus any soon-to-be drafted players and the depth at the probable nine or ten final DL spots is looking pretty decent.
Obviously, a premiere pass rusher is still on the needs list - and that may come at outside linebacker or defensive end, but as it stands now this in an improved unit from over a year ago.