Safety Jeron Johnson and fullback Marcel Reece both signed with the Seahawks on Tuesday, but despite both being new to the roster, there's a level of familiarity with the team and the system that could help them contribute right away.
Most notably, Johnson spent his first four seasons in the NFL with the Seahawks, serving as a backup safety and key special teams contributor before leaving as a free agent following the 2014 season. Reece doesn't have history with the Seahawks, but he did play for offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable when Cable was the head coach in Oakland from 2008 to 2010. Reece also has the benefit of being familiar with the area having played for the University of Washington.
Both players were released by teams earlier this year and have been waiting for the right opportunity to present itself ever since, and now both have the chance to contribute to a team that is well positioned to earn a fifth consecutive playoff berth. Johnson's signing adds depth at safety following Earl Thomas' season ending injury, while Reece gives the Seahawks another option at fullback with Will Tukuafu in the concussion protocol this week.
"It's a great, great, great feeling," Johnson said of returning to the Seahawks. "It's really what I wanted. I've been waiting on it. I've been waiting on an opportunity to get back. It's unfortunate what happened to Earl and the circumstance of why I'm here, but I'm very fortunate, I'm grateful for the opportunity to come back."
Johnson lives near the Virginia Mason Athletic Center and has been working out at a nearby L.A. Fitness and at Rainier Beach High School, making his return to the Seahawks not just a dream scenario, but also a convenient one that keeps him close to home and his two children, including a three-month-old daughter.
"Truly I felt at home yesterday coming back for a workout," Johnson said. "It's truly a family atmosphere, I'm happy to be back… I've been right down the street just waiting on the opportunity."
Johnson spent most of his time at strong safety during his first stint with Seattle, but he said he's ready to play free or strong safety—or anywhere else for that matter.
"I'm ready for whatever," he said. "Whatever they throw at me, I'm ready for it… I'm ready for whatever, it doesn't matter. If they tell me to go play long snapper, I'll do it right now. I'm just glad to be here."
In addition to helping with safety depth, Johnson should be able to contribute on special teams, perhaps easing the workload of Steven Terrell, a special teams mainstay who will now take over the starting free safety job.
"We're hoping that he can give us some play at safety and do some special team work for us, as he's done in the past," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He's a really smart football player. He's been around the area, he's been kind of staying close to the program, paying attention, so we think we might have a chance to fit him in if we need him.
"It really made sense. We worked a few guys out and it really made sense. He looked good, he's in good shape. He's maintained a good conditioning level, so it was a real obvious choice for us."
Reece, meanwhile, has been working out in the Bay Area since being a somewhat surprising early-season cut after four straight Pro Bowl seasons with the Raiders.
"I think a lot of people were surprised; I was," Reece said. "But that's the nature of the business."
Despite that surprise ending to a long career in Oakland, Reece is nothing but happy for his former team, which is currently 10-2, assuring the franchise of its first winning season since 2002.
"I'm happy for those guys," Reece said. "I'm happy for them, more power to them. I'm happy for those fans, those guys, (owner) Mark Davis, they deserve it, but I'm a Seahawk now and I'm ready to go."
And the Seahawks hope Reece can be ready to go soon, a process that should go more quickly both because of Cable and Reece's familiarity with each other, and also because Reece is accustomed to learning new offenses having been through five coaching changes in his career.
"The fact that he was with (Cable) really helps us," Carroll said. "They've got background and system and concept and all that together, and Tom knows him really well. He's a really good kid, it's great that he's a local product as well. He is a versatile football player. He has worked really hard to stay in good shape and he had a great workout last week, so he gets an opportunity this week.
"He has wide receiver background. That's why he was always a special player when he first broke in, and they got him to play fullback. They used him kind of in the tight end spots and he's done a lot of stuff. He has a lot of versatility, he is a good catcher and he can run all the routes and stuff. He does give some chances to do some other things with him."
Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' 40-7 Week 13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.