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Defying the Odds: Best Undrafted Seahawks Of The 21st Century

Taking a look back at some of the best undrafted free agents to sign with and play for the Seattle Seahawks throughout the 2000’s.


After selecting eight players in April's 2024 NFL Draft, the Seahawks signed 16 undrafted free agents heading into rookie minicamp, and added one more on Sunday. Draft Analyst Chad Reuter named nine new Seahawks to his top undrafted rookie rankings last week, highlighting the franchise's ability to find possible contributors for the 2024 season after the draft's conclusion. With rookies getting to work and beginning to fight for their spot on the roster, here are some of the best undrafted Seahawks of the century.

WR Doug Baldwin, 2011

Despite a career-high 857 yards and nine touchdowns in his senior season at Stanford University, wideout Doug Baldwin failed to hear his name called in the 2011 draft. After getting an opportunity to sign with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, Baldwin quickly ascended the depth chart as a rookie. Despite just one start in 16 appearances, the Gulf Breeze, Florida native led the team with 51 receptions for 788 yards and four touchdowns. A series of injuries restricted Baldwin to 14 games in 2012, yet he managed to catch 29 passes for 366 yards and three scores.

In 2013, Baldwin would emerge as a key weapon in Seattle's offense, catching 50 passes for 778 yards and five scores to help Seattle climb to 13-3 and the NFC's No. 1 seed. Baldwin would catch 13 passes for 202 yards (15.5 ypc) and a score through three playoff games, helping Seattle reach Super Bowl XLVIII and capture their first championship with a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos. Baldwin's best statistical years were still to come, with 2014 being his first season starting all 16 games. That year, he posted 66 receptions, three touchdowns and a career-high 825 yards. In 2015, Baldwin recorded the first of two straight 1,000-yard seasons (1,069), finishing the year as the NFL's receiving touchdowns co-leader with 14, and earning his first Pro Bowl nomination. Baldwin retired in 2019, finishing his eight-year career exclusively as a Seahawk. In the all-time franchise books, Baldwin ranks fourth in receptions (493), fourth in receiving yards (6,563) and third in receiving touchdowns (49).

DE Michael Bennett, 2009

Following the 2009 NFL Draft, Seattle signed another undrafted Super Bowl XLVIII Champion in Texas A&M defensive end Michael Bennett. The Houston, Texas native made the final roster, before being waived that October. After quickly being claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bennett would go on to play 43 games (28 starts) between 2009-2012. In March of 2013, Bennett returned to Seattle via free agency, just in time to help Seattle capture its first championship. Bennett would combine for 31 tackles, 8.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a recovery for a touchdown. Between 2015-2017, Bennett earned three consecutive Pro Bowl selections, combining for 23.5 sacks across that span. Across his second stint with the team spanning five seasons, Bennett started 62-of-75 games played, racking up 39 sacks, 69 tackles for loss, seven forced fumbles and a recovery for a score. Bennett would spend time with the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys before calling it a career following the 2019 season.

Bennett will not only go down in Seattle's record books amongst the franchise's greatest pass rushers and run stoppers, but also for his commitment to creating change through social justice. After winning their first Super Bowl, Bennett joined Baldwin and cornerback Richard Sherman in using their voices to speak up for injustices faced by people of color across the country. That work would eventually lead to Bennett and Baldwin joining teammate and Seahawks Legend Cliff Avril in creating *Champions of Change* non-profit community-based organization, which hosts events to benefit community groups throughout the Pacific Northwest in providing resources.

WR Jermaine Kearse, 2012

Two-time second-team All-Pac-10 (2009-2010) University of Washington wideout Jermaine Kearse went undrafted in 2012, before being signed as an undrafted free agent by his hometown Seahawks. The Lakewood native played mainly special teams as a rookie, before becoming an integral part of Seattle's 2013 championship run. That season, Kearse caught 22 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns across 15 games played (five starts), helping the 13-3 Seahawks in their championship push. In Super Bowl XLVIII, Kearse made four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown to help Seattle claim a 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos. In 2014, Kearse started 14 games, catching 38 passes for 537 yards and a score. Kearse continued to show consistency as a clutch playoff performer, catching seven passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns to help Seattle reach Super Bowl XLIX, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime of an NFC Championship game win over Green Bay.

In 2015, Kearse started all 16 games, producing 49 receptions for 685 yards and five touchdowns. Kearse caught 41 passes for 510 yards and a score in 2016, before being moved to the New York Jets via trade in 2017. After 30 games played with New York, Kearse announced his retirement in 2020.

S Jordan Babineaux, 2004

In 2004, Southern Arkansas safety Jordan Babineaux went undrafted, following a stellar career at the Division II level. After signing with the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent, Babineaux worked his way up from the practice squad as a rookie to playing 16 games in 2005. That year, Babineaux made four starts, combining for 75 tackles, three tackles for loss, three interceptions, eight passes defensed, a forced fumble and a recovery.

It didn't take long for Babineaux to earn the nickname "Big Play Babs" following several clutch performances. In the 2006 postseason, Babineaux saved a comeback attempt from the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Wild Card, making a diving tackle in the final moments of the game on scrambling quarterback Tony Romo following a botched snap to secure a 21-20 victory. Across seven seasons in Seattle, Babineaux moved around the secondary as a defensive back, combining for 411 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks, 10 interceptions (one touchdown), 32 passes defensed, seven forced fumbles and a safety. After spending two seasons at both free and strong safety with the Tennessee Titans, Babineaux retired following the 2014 season.

RB Thomas Rawls, 2015

Flint, Michigan native and running back Thomas Rawls split his collegiate years at the University of Michigan (2011-2013) and Central Michigan University (2014), before going undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft. After signing as an undrafted free agent with Seattle, Rawls quickly rose up the depth chart as a rookie. After just five yards across his first-two games, Rawls exploded onto the scene with his first 100-yard (104) game in Week 3's 26-0 victory over the Chicago Bears. Rawls accomplished the feat again in Week 5 (169 yards) against the Cincinnati Bengals, before rushing for 209 yards in Week 11 against the San Francisco 49ers to become the first undrafted back to rush for 160-plus yards twice as a rookie.

A fractured ankle would end Rawls' rookie campaign prematurely, finishing the year with 830 yards and four touchdowns on 147 carries. Injuries would hamper a promising career, with Rawls gaining 349 yards and three scores across nine games in 2016. In 2017, Rawls rushed for 157 yards in his final season as a Seahawk. After brief periods with the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals and Jacksonville Jaguars, Rawls retired following the 2019 season.

DB DeShawn Shead, 2012

A football standout and decathlete at Division II Portland State, Shead signed with Seattle in 2012 and spent most of his first two seasons on the practice squad while appearing in five games in 2013, as well as all three postseason games on the way to a Super Bowl XLVIII title.

After establishing himself as a special teams standout, Shead saw his role on defense increase in 2015 with six starts, and his fourth-quarter interception in Week 17 allowed the Seahawks to lead the NFL in scoring defense for a fourth straight season, a first in the Super Bowl era. Shead became a regular starter in 2016, starting at right cornerback opposite Richard Sherman, but a torn ACL in the postseason limited Shead to just two games in 2017, then he signed with the Lions in 2018. Shead began his coaching career with the Seahawks in 2021, and this year joined the Miami Dolphins staff as an assistant defensive backs coach.

T George Fant, 2016

Fant played basketball at Western Kentucky before taking up football as a fifth-year senior, which is why despite a rare combination of size and athletic ability, he went undrafted in 2016. The Seahawks took a shot on the basketball convert, and Fant contributed faster than anyone could have expected, starting 10 games at left tackle as a rookie. A knee injury cost Fant the entire 2018 season, but over the next two years he started 14 games while appearing in all 32, taking on an important role as a big tight end/sixth lineman, turning "No. 74 is eligible" into a fan favorite line.

After signing with the Jets in 2020, Fant went on to start 49 games over the next four seasons for the Jets and Texans, then this offseason he signed with the Seahawks, brining him back to where his NFL career began.

The Seahawks completed their final practice of rookie minicamp on Saturday, May 4, 2024 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Check out the 12 best photos from their Saturday practice.

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