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Seahawks sign TE Tony Moeaki, WR Bryan Walters; sign WR Jalen Saunders, S Dion Bailey to the practice squad

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports


The Seahawks signed veteran tight end Tony Moeaki Tuesday, along with WR Bryan Walters, releasing LB L.J. Fort and S Terrance Parks.

Moeaki is a 6'3, 250 pound, highly athletic "move" type of tight end that has produced when healthy. He caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie (2010), then after missing the 2011 season, caught 33 passes for 453 yards and a touchdown in 2012. That said, the 27 year old's main issue in the NFL thus far has been avoiding injuries -- he fractured his scapula during the preseason last year while playing for the Chiefs, and was given an injury settlement. He was waived with an injury settlement from the Bills this season due to a hamstring injury.

Moeaki's most famous play came against the Niners in 2010 -- this diving one-handed catch in the back of the endzone that was played on loop on the NFL network commercials as one of the "plays of the year" candidates.

With Zach Miller still out indefinitely -- he's not even running on grass yet -- and Luke Willson struggling in the passing game, the Seahawks are looking to upgrade their weaponry at the position.

In addition to brining Moeaki in for a tryout, the Seahawks also worked out receivers Arrelious Benn, Austin Pettis and Tim Benford, according Aaron Wilson.

The Seahawks also signed WR Jalen Saunders and S Dion Bailey to the Practice Squad. Bailey was with the Seahawks as a UDFA out of USC this year, and Saunders was a fourth round pick by the Jets. He did not catch on with John Idzik's new team, eventually being released on September 29th, two weeks after he muffed a punt against the Bears. He signed briefly with the Cardinals' practice squad.

Per ESPN's Rich Carimi's sources, Saunders "wasn't nearly as explosive as the team's draft reports had indicated. The only reason he made the team was because of his punt-returning ability, but he never showed any elusiveness. When he muffed punts in back-to-back games, he became expendable."

Here's what Mike Mayock had to say about the Jets' selection of Saunders -- "Saunders weighed in at a hefty 165 pounds at the Senior Bowl. At 165 pounds, he's one of most physical receivers in football; he ear holes defensive backs. He can play in the slot or on the outside, and he can also play special teams."

And Nolan Nawrocki's assessment --

STRENGTHS Light on his feet with a fluid stride. Good balance and body control. Nifty, conscientious route runner. Has speed and twitch to separate vs. man coverage -- sinks his hips with ease and pops out of breaks. Quick, soft hands. Slippery after the catch. Eludes the first tackler and can turn a short throw into a long gain if he gets a step. Three punt-return TDs in 25 returns at OU -- eludes the first wave, runs to daylight and can take it the distance.

WEAKNESSES Marginal size. Cannot play outside -- is easily knocked off course and needs a free release. Lets throws into his body. Small catch radius. Lacks elite top-end vertical speed, especially for his size (averaged just 12.0 yards per catch as a senior). Outmuscled in a crowd. Limited run strength. Lets throws into his body. Weak blocker -- gets ragdolled outside. Durability could be a concern -- is not built to take a pounding.

BOTTOM LINE A lightweight, quicker-than-fast, competitive slot receiver and punt returner, Saunders will always have size limitations, but has the hands, suddenness, polish and moxie to be a useful piece for a creative offensive coordinator able to free him up. Return ability adds to value.

Here are a few cutups of his play from last season at Oklahoma -- via DraftBreakdown.