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At minicamp, Pete Carroll says Dion Jordan had offseason knee surgery after signing with Seahawks

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The front office gambled on a stricken former blue chip prospect, but health continues to impede Jordan’s opportunity to fit in with the new team

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle Seahawks free agent acquisition Dion Jordan, the former third overall pick by the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 NFL Draft, wasn’t highly anticipated as an addition to the Seattle defensive line rotation because of a history of poor playing performance, disciplinary problems (league banned substances protocol), weight and injury concerns. However, the Seahawks got Jordan for a risk-free near-minimum non-guaranteed deal—and with some basis for speculation the new organization plus a coach-described potential switch from the edge to the interior could revitalize Jordan’s spiraling professional career, I was at least curious to find out how Jordan progressed through the summer workouts.

Instead Jordan didn’t practice at all during organized team activities, and remains out during this week’s mandatory minicamp.

Pete Carroll Tuesday admitted Jordan had knee surgery since Seattle signed him in April, when team doctors discovered scar tissue material still in his knee following a recovery that kept Jordan out the whole 2016 season. Specifically, the latest surgery came three weeks ago, right before the start of OTAs, Carroll said. But, connecting some dots, it’s probably not too far imagine this same damage was what caused the Dolphins to release Jordan in March following a failed physical.

According to Carroll, Jordan’s latest recovery may challenge his readiness for the start of the season. Last year, in comparison, Michael Bennett had arthroscopic surgery to clean scar tissue in his knee during the season—and he only missed six weeks. So potentially, Jordan could be back in time for camp. But Bennett’s surgery came at a time when he was already fully conditioned for football, a fitness level it’s not clear Jordan has reached after his long absence. Even if his knee bounces back quickly from surgery, Jordan will probably be on a longer timetable to return to full speed. If that’s the case, without as much opportunity to demonstrate his value during training camp, it’s difficult to see Jordan making the Seahawks roster in 2017. They hardly have enough invested in him to bother assigning Jordan to injured reserve.

Although Jordan’s experience in a pass-rush profile combined with his size (drafted at 250 pounds, Jordan weighed in closer to 280 when Seattle picked up him) led some to imagine him competing for the open strongside linebacker spot, Carroll indicated in May the defensive coaches were instead intending to move Jordan inside to tackle, potentially replacing Jarran Reed or Ahtyba Rubin in some passing scenarios. With the Seahawks picking Malik McDowell in the second round later that month, it was always going to be a struggle for Jordan to make the fall’s 53-man group unless he made a significant mark in camp.

While the fact the front office signed such a marginal player while he was physically unable to perform under medical tests may be a surprise, the terms and expectations surrounding Jordan make the situation not much of a flop. All it costs Seattle if Jordan can’t go is some of its absolute upside. Perhaps Jordan can continue to rehabilitate physically, but this setback might also mean the end of his career given his list of issues.

Incidentally, the second overall pick of that 2013 draft Luke Joeckel, who the Seahawks signed in March and who is also coming off a knee injury, is on a much better trajectory according to the head coach’s comments. Joeckel has been participating in run-scheme walkthroughs during most of OTAs, and Carroll seemed excited that the low-contact drills were allowing newcomers with lower-body issues such as Joeckel and running back Eddie Lacy (ankle) to continue keeping up with the installation and adjustment process at this stage.

Aside from being mandatory, the rules for the mid-June minicamp are not that different from OTAs except for a slightly more time-intensive two-a-day structure. It’s a kind of primer for training camp before the players have six weeks off for summer vacation. Hopefully all the Seattle players, including Jordan, stay healthy or get on course to compete in August.