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Seahawks should avoid TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins in free agency

NFL: New York Jets at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The combine is taking place this week meaning free agency is just around the corner, and the discussions of who the Seattle Seahawks should target are rapidly heating up. One of the names tossed around by Seattle fans on social media is that of tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who reportedly turned down a two-year, $8M contract from the New York Jets earlier this offseason.

ASJ played his college ball at the University of Washington, so as a hometown Husky he would be welcomed into a fanbase familiar with him and his play. At 6’5” and 262 pounds, he has the size to be a blocking force in the run game, while also possessing the hands and athleticism to be a threat in the passing game. With Seattle poised to potentially lose both Luke Willson and Jimmy Graham to free agency this year, it would seem that ASJ could be a great fit.

The big issue with ASJ, however, is the simple reason why he was a member of the Jets in 2017 rather than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the past five years Seferian-Jenkins has twice been arrested for DUI, and it was after his second arrest in September 2016 that the Bucs immediately released him, allowing the Jets to claim him on waivers.

It has been much publicized that following his second arrest ASJ sought professional help through an outpatient rehab program, and in January he celebrated a year of sobriety. To celebrate one year, ASJ did a very candid piece for The Players’ Tribune, which you can watch here.

A year of sobriety is absolutely fantastic for Seferian-Jenkins, and anyone who has battled substance abuse knows living sober makes a world of difference.

However, even at a year of sobriety, the odds are still stacked against Seferian-Jenkins.

According to a recent article by Warren Thompson, MD, FACP, on less than 20% of patients who seek treatment will successfully stay sober for a full year. So, while ASJ has already beaten those odds, even those who make it through that first year successfully have difficulty staying sober. Even after a year sober, the relapse is reported to be above 50%. And for those who have maintained sobriety for two years, the relapse rate remains as high as 40%.

For ASJ, that means that any team signing him to a deal is facing a very real risk that he could relapse. It’s obviously far from a sure thing, and only time will tell whether he will remain sober or not. At this point, though, the fact of the matter is that it’s roughly a coin flip whether he will remain sober or whether he will relapse.

That is not to say that he can’t be a fantastic free agent signing for a team. There is the very real chance that ASJ, between his youth and his athleticism, could sign a deal that would be extremely rewarding for both himself and the team that signs him. Unfortunately, the odds are roughly the same that he will relapse, and not be worth whatever contract he had signed. That’s what makes the signing risky, and the Hawks don’t have that kind of risk tolerance at this point in time.

The team has limited resources available under the salary cap and lacks significant firepower when it comes to draft capital. Thus, the team needs to be able to rely on the pieces it adds to fill the multiple holes on the roster, and ASJ is likely too much of a risk at this juncture. The Seahawks need to judiciously allocate their assets on players on whom they can rely, and at this point ASJ, unfortunately, simply does not fit the bill.

So, no matter how much of a potential monster ASJ is on the field, it’s the monster he battles off the field that should steer the Seahawks away.