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How Seahawks Ben Burr-Kirven is set to enter fifth year of rookie contract

Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

One of the big offseason question marks for the Seattle Seahawks is at off-ball linebacker. After Jordyn Brooks and Cody Barton started for the overwhelming majority of the 2022 season, Brooks is set to spend the majority of, if not the entire, offseason recovering from knee surgery, while Barton is slated to hit free agency. Adding in that Tanner Muse is unsigned as a restricted free agent, meaning none of the players at the position who saw meaningful snaps during the 2022 season are under contract for 2023.

However, one player at the position who is under contract for the upcoming season is 2019 fifth round pick Ben Burr-Kirven. Seattle fans have not seen BBK on the field since Week 2 of the 2021 preseason, when a hyperextended knee landed him on injured reserve. Then, on the eve of the Seahawks opening training camp in 2022, the Hawks placed him on the reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.

BBK landing on the reserve/PUP list on the eve of training camp did two things, the first of which was to end his 2022 season before it ever started. Specifically, a player who is placed on reserve/PUP prior to training camp is, by league rules, out for the year. In addition, though, what BBK spending the entirety of the season on the PUP list then did was to result in the rarely used situation spelled out by Article 20, Section 2 of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement. That section is as follows (bolding added for emphasis):

Section 2. Physically Unable to Perform: Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if (i) he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game; and (ii) he is not reinstated to the Club’s Active/Inactive List during that regular season or postseason. For the avoidance of doubt, if the player returns to practice, but is never reinstated to the Club’s Active/Inactive List during that regular season or postseason, his contract will toll.

Breaking down what this portion of the CBA means without legalese is that since BBK was in the final season of his contract and spent the entirety of that final season on the PUP list, the last year of his contract tolls and he is under contract for 2023 for the exact same terms as for 2022.

Thus, while it is certainly unlikely that BBK will be a big portion of the answer at off ball linebacker for Seattle in 2023, if his knee is healthy he should have a chance reclaim at least reclaim his role on special teams, since he is under contract for the upcoming season.