Lavasier Tuinei, swag.
Per the always excellent Brian McIntyre, some of the Seahawks' UDFA signing bonus info is now in, and unsurprisingly (to me, anyway), WR Lavasei Tuinei tops the list with a $15,000 piece of the pie. After Tuinei, it's notable that WR Jermaine Kearse got $8,500, DB Deshawn Shead got $8,000K, T John Opperud $7,500K, and Carson Wiggs got $5,000. Are these bonuses a big deal? Maybe, maybe not. I think the Tuinei signing bonus of $15,000 says a whole lot - you may remember last year that the Seahawks gave the biggest chunk of their $75,000 allotment to Doug Baldwin and we all know what happened there.
Last year, as a refresher, the highest Sehawks UDFA signing bonuses went to Doug Baldwin ($17.5K), Jeron Johnson ($15K) and Pierre Allen ($10K). Ricardo Lockette got $4.5K to sign. These four players are all still on the Seahawks' roster - Jeron Johnson beat out 5th round draft pick Mark Legree, you'll remember, and Baldwin quickly became the Seahawks leading receiver. Lockette has a good shot to make the team this year again, and Pierre Allen has potential as well. The new CBA stipulates all UDFAs get 3-year contracts with a per-team cap of $75K in signing bonuses and in 2011, Seattle spent $42.5K of that on the three top players. This year, it was less skewed, with $44,000 going to the top-five players.
I said earlier, in my UDFA reports, that I 'have an inkling' that Lavasier Tuinei will push for a roster spot as a big slot, joker type WR/TE tweener, and his ability to possibly play outside as a backup to Mike Williams, Kris Durham, and Sidney Rice gives him some versatility. His catch radius is redonkulous - 34.5" arms and an 81" wingspan - and his soft hands and penchant to score touchdowns (10TD in 2011) make him a natural fit in this offense. This bonus information just makes me more intrigued, though he still faces a pretty tough battle to make the roster. The WR corps is pretty wide open at the moment and if he doesn't have a good training camp and preseason, he might be forgotten.
The Kearse and Shead bonus numbers aren't all the surprising - I have very high hopes for Shead, as I spelled out in my UDFA reports, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Kearse try to assume that "Ben Obomanu" jack-of-all-trades role if he has a shot at the roster. The Opperud signing bonus sticks out to me as surprising, so that just makes him one player to keep a closer eye on in camp. The Wiggs $5K signing bonus makes sense, as he was probably one of only a few draftable kickers that didn't find a team in the first seven rounds.