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Barkevious Mingo’s contract seems to imply that Seahawks have higher hopes than past free agent signees

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NFL: New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to be memorable to fans in the NFL if you only stick around for one year. Past examples with the Seattle Seahawks, even just under Pete Carroll, include Brandon Stokley, Chris Baker, Robert Gallery, Anthony Hargrove, Atari Bigby, Braylon Edwards, Evan Moore, Jason Jones, Kellen Davis, Kevin Williams, Tony Moeaki, Fred Jackson, and Marcel Reece. These were almost all one-year deals by the Seahawks (Gallery was for three), and clearly that’s all they were. Some players, like Terrell Owens and Jahri Evans, didn’t even make it to the regular season.

So it came as little surprise really when Seattle didn’t sign a single free agent in 2017 to anything longer than a one-year deal, and most of them will leave this offseason with no fanfare: Luke Joeckel, Eddie Lacy, Blair Walsh, Marcus Smith, Oday Aboushi, Terence Garvin, and Michael Wilhoite. The only exception is Bradley McDougald, who re-signed for three years this week after his one-year of “prove it” under Pete. Those one-year-to-re-sign deals haven’t all been too bad, including Michael Bennett (one year in 2013) and Tony McDaniel (2013).

Pete and John Schneider have not seemed to feel any pressure in the past to go beyond one year for second and third-tier free agents, as they are confident that if things work out, they’ll be able to retain those players after they perform and not before. So why then did the Seahawks opt to give linebacker Barkevious Mingo a two-year, $6.6 million deal on Wednesday?

Right or wrong, they must feel some confidence that they just got a steal, and that in 2019, Mingo’s cap hit will be one of the best bargains on the team. If not in the division and so on.

Mingo’s contract details, via Brady Henderson of ESPN:

Barkevious Mingo’s two-year deal with the Seahawks has a base value of $6.8 million with $3.2 million in full guarantees, as ESPN’s Field Yates and others have reported. According to a source, it includes a $2.2 million signing bonus, base salaries of $1 million (2018) and $3 million (2019) and $300,000 in per-game active roster bonuses for both years of the deal. More is available in incentives tied to sacks, playing time and the Pro Bowl. Mingo’s cap number for 2018 is $2.4 million.

If Mingo would sign for such a low annual salary over two years, then you could reasonably assume that he’d accept a one-year deal at roughly 110-120% of the same annual value (this is my “guesstimate number” for contracts). It would even behoove Mingo to do so, because at this stage in his career, he’s likely still looking for one big cash in rather than just one more year of team control going to the franchise he signs with; because deals are the way they are, Mingo has almost no security for 2019 if he doesn’t perform well, but if he does, then the Seahawks get to keep him for a bargain price, just like they did with Cliff Avril in 2014 after he signed a modest two-year deal in 2013.

It seems to me then that the two years on the contract was Pete and John’s request, not Mingo’s.

They didn’t go two years on McDougald. Or Lacy. Or Joeckel. Or Smith. Some of whom have shockingly remarkable career trajectories to Mingo(2013 draft, first or second rounders, disappointments, lack of productivity but with some impossible-to-ignore upside in their backgrounds). You can get a bit more info on that from our Mingo-signing announcement. In 2017, Mingo signed a one-year, $2.5 million deal with the Colts, was unremarkable, then signed for two years? Why? How?

Mingo did finish strong, recording four tackles and a sack in Week 15 (with 12 special teams snaps), then seven tackles and a sack in Week 16 (with 11 special teams snaps). Overall, he seemed to take to special teams and turned into a regular on Indy’s defense, for better or worse. In Seattle’s defense, who knows where he’ll eventually end up,

but this is him:

6’4, 241 lbs, 4.58 40-yard dash, 37” vertical, 6.84 3-cone drill

and this is Chris Clemons:

6’3, 236 lbs, 4.68 40-yard dash, 35” vertical

and this is Bruce Irvin:

6’3, 245 lbs, 4.50 40-yard dash, 33.5” vertical, 6.70 3-cone drill

and this is Cliff Avril:

6’3, 252 lbs, 6.9 3-cone drill

He’s not Frank Clark (271 lbs), but he is comparable to Clemons and Irvin, and a Leo position doesn’t seem out of the question. In fact he was asked about that prior to the 2013 draft:

Q: Could you play the Leo end spot that the Seahawks and Jaguars use?

A: “I think I can. It’s pretty much playing defensive end in college, the same position. They’re closely related and not really any different.”

So perhaps in their minds he has the potential to be the next Clemons (who was 29 when he broke out in Seattle’s defensive system as a Leo, compared to Mingo, who turns 28 in October) and that it’s not too late for them to turnaround the former sixth overall pick’s fortunes ... and that if they do so, they won’t have to worry about losing Mingo in 2019 or having to pay him an $8-$10 million salary because he’s suddenly a former top-10 pick, who is under 30, and now has a good year under his belt.

It may sound farfetched today, but this is the same person who was compared to DeMarcus Ware coming out of college, and we all just witnessed Donte Moncrief pull in a salary worth up to $9.6 million for next season. Was Moncrief more valuable to the Colts last season than Mingo was?

Then again, of course Mingo might not do well enough to make it to year two at all. Seattle also once made the mistake of giving J’Marcus Webb a two-year, $5.75 million contract, and he didn’t even get to the end of the first season. Perhaps his closest NFL draft comp in the last five years, at least as far as measurables go, is former undrafted free agent signing Jackson Jeffcoat:

6’3, 247 lbs, 4.63 40-yard dash, 36” vertical, 6.97 3-cone drill.

Physically, the two are practically a one-to-one. They also both have 33+” arms and 9 5/8” hands. But Jeffcoat didn’t even get drafted, and teams did not have that same desire to keep giving him second chances, as they do Mingo. Jeffcoat didn’t make the Seahawks, and most recently he’s played in the CFL.

So that’s also a possible outcome: That physically speaking, you need more than measurables. Does Mingo have that? I don’t know.

But I think the two-year deal implies that the Seahawks think he does.