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Reports: Troymaine Pope apparently escaped Seahawks’ exclusive rights free agent exodus

Fan favorite running back with 44 career yards rumored among three ERFAs possibly retained by team

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been already reported and repeated that Garry Gilliam is the only restricted free agent the Seattle Seahawks retained their option for before the signing period opened March 9. However, if several other reports are correct, John Schneider and the Seahawks’ front office did tender several players in a different class of free agents, the exclusive rights free agents.

ERFAs include players without at least two accrued “seasons” according to the NFL, who may not negotiate with other clubs if the proprietary team extends an offer, unlike RFAs who may seek offers that can afterward be matched by the original team.

An example would be Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a cornerback Seattle signed off the street last year and one of the players thought to reinforce the Seahawks’ depth after the serious knee injury to DeShawn Shead in the last playoff game. But Schneider opted not to retain control of Jean-Baptiste, according to Bob Condotta.

It’s not clear what material Condotta used to gather this list of names, some of whom may indeed sign later with Seattle. Perhaps some publicity release supplied to accredited press by the NFL. But whatever “list” he was looking at, later Thursday night Condotta noticed one of the Seahawks’ ERFAs who wasn’t on it.

Pope is the former Jacksonville State running back who joined Seattle as a free agent after the 2016 draft and who impressed in late action in several preseason games before the Seahawks cut him prior to the regular season. The move was controversial when the team kept rookie Alex Collins over the more-productive-against-third-stringers Pope. Pope later played briefly for the New York Jets before a reunion in Seattle following the release of Christine Michael. After C.J. Prosise went down, Pope saw a spurt of actual NFL action but then Pope also ended his season with a high ankle sprain in December. In four professional games Pope has 44 yards on 12 carries.

But if Condotta’s list is accurate, the organization saw enough in those carries and in practice/training camp to tender the previously undrafted Pope an exclusive rights offer—which would still be an non-guaranteed contract much like a futures deal. Derek Lewis at the franchise blog for also indicated fellow ERFAs Dewey McDonald and Terrence Magee received tenders from the Seahawks. McDonald was a special teams contributor acquired late in the preseason for a seventh round draft pick and Magee joined Seattle for two stints in 2016 following injuries first to Thomas Rawls and then Prosise. However, none of these tenders have been confirmed by the club, and it’s possible Lewis is only listing names not explicitly addressed by Condotta on Twitter.

Since the Seahawks didn’t make any announcement concerning Pope yet, it remains possible whatever list Condotta used was incomplete too. With so many rosters in transition during this early signing period, anything not confirmed seems speculative.

Apart from futures contracts (mostly) distributed to practice squad players, other low-level signees from 2016 you may not realize are still under contract include defensive tackle Garrison Smith and linebacker Ronald Powell.