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Seahawks sign Tom Johnson

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Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings continue their exchange of players. On Friday, the Seahawks signed defensive tackle Tom Johnson, who has spent the last four years with the Vikings after having played for three years with the New Orleans Saints. He fills a void on the defensive line left by Sheldon Richardson, who left to sign in Minnesota.

Johnson, an undrafted free agent out of Southern Miss in 2005, had perhaps a career-best season last year, starting on a line between Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen, and Linval Joseph. He had 32 tackles and two sacks as the Vikings finished second in rushing yards allowed and fifth against the run by DVOA. Johnson had 12 sacks in two seasons from 2014-2015, his first two in Minnesota, proving he is also capable of getting to the quarterback at times.

The reason for Johnson signing a one-year deal instead of a long-term contract is likely due to the fact that he turns 34 in August. Though Johnson didn’t start his NFL career until 2011, he had been trying for six years before that, playing in NFL Europe, the CFL, and the Arena League. His $2.7 million deal (we’ll see the final details eventually, but Tom Pelissero says “up to” so there must be incentives) is another move that fits snugly under the salary cap rather than Seattle trying to make a big splash on one player; conversely, Richardson has a base salary of $8 million with incentives that could push it to $11 million.

Consider what the Seahawks are trying to do in building a full 90-man roster that will eventually be cut down to 53, and that had roughly $18 million in space before signing Johnson per OverTheCap.com. (Likely less, like $10 million in space? As OtC was missing some recent deals.) These are some of the estimated cap hits that Seattle has added during free agency, not including Johnson:

Bradley McDougald, $3.3

Justin Coleman, $2.9

Marcus Smith, up to $2.7

Barkevious Mingo, $2.4

Dion Jordan, $1.9

Ed Dickson, $1.8

Jaron Brown, $1.77

Marcus Johnson, $.55

D.J. Fluker (???)

Mike Davis (???)

Consider that Fluker is likely not making a lot and Davis likely under $1 million non-guaranteed. Seattle is adding players that they feel they can afford and saving room perhaps for moves in August and September, but these are NFL players. Johnson could be considered a “consolation prize” for Richardson because Richardson is much younger, but as far as 2018 goes, the Seahawks may not feel they’re getting a huge downgrade at defensive tackle. This gives them a viable starter next to Jarran Reed and keeps Nazair Jones as perhaps one of the better backup defensive tackles in the division. I’m sure it’ll be a steady rotation between the three, depending on the future of Malik McDowell and what else Seattle does between now and Week 1.

By not spending half of their remaining cap space on one player, they’ll have options to do something. Maybe that “something” should have been re-signing Richardson in the first place, but Johnson makes that move or lack thereof much more palatable.