Barkevious Mingo played for three teams in his first five seasons in the NFL, and already he has a very good feeling about his fourth team based on what he has experienced since signing with the Seahawks as a free agent in March.
"It's the best locker room I've been a part of," Mingo said. "That's one of those things that goes around. Players talk about, 'this team is this, this team is that,' and this has always been a team where word on the street is that they take care of their players, their players love playing for their coaches, they love coming to work here—the meetings, the practices and the games are fun. This is why people started to play this game as kids, to have fun. This team has been that, and players appreciate that. People like to come here."
But while a good locker room and fun environment are important for Mingo, what the strongside linebacker and pass-rusher hopes really makes a difference for him this year is the way Seattle's defense will fit his skillset. An exceptional athlete, Mingo was the No. 6 overall pick out of LSU in 2013, but as his path to Seattle indicates, he has yet to find the right fit in the NFL. That's not to say Mingo has had a bad career thus far—he has been a starter and has won a Super Bowl—but he has yet to find the right setting to maximize his ability. He and the Seahawks hope that will change in 2018.
"It's a good fit because not only does this team have a great locker room culture, and I'm excited to be here, but the style of defense that has been played here," he said. "Being around the league, you notice other teams, 'These guys are going to be fast, they hit you hard, and they're going to be relentless to the ball.' That's what I pride myself on doing, so this is a great fit… I want to do as much as I can to help the team achieve our goals, whatever that is, I'm down for it."
Mingo has never been a player who let his draft status define him, but he also believes he still has more to offer than he has shown in three seasons with Cleveland, the team that drafted him, and one-year stops in New England and Indianapolis.
"My goal isn't to live up to a draft status or whatever, my goal is to put my all out there when I'm on the field, do my best to help the team win," Mingo said. "Unfortunately for me, I wasn't put in positions on other teams to do that, but I think this is great fit for me, for the team, and I'm just excited to be here and be a part of this team. People around the league take note of teams, and this is a team that you know is going to fly around, it's going to hit, it's going to be a fast, relentless defense."
It's still very early in camp, and like everyone else, Mingo will have to earn his playing time, but he has a shot to have a very big role for the Seahawks, who envision him as a strongside linebacker in their base defense and an edge rusher in passing situations.
"When you look at Mingo, he was pretty much our No. 1 priority in free agency outside the building," Seahawks general manager John Schneider told 710 ESPN Seattle in March. "Never been able to rush the passer, really, because he's such a good athlete and that's why he was drafted… He's such a good athlete and people put him in space and let him run around and stuff instead of putting his hand on the ground as much as we're going to let him do."
Mingo has been a pass-rusher and an off-the-ball linebacker at different times in his pro and college career, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll thinks this current hybrid role will suit him well.
"It's definitely finding roles for guys and getting to figure them out and know who they are and all of that," Carroll said. "He has done a lot of stuff, even back in college, so right now to have him playing outside backer and also rushing in the nickel package, it's just right, it's the right spot for him. He also has a lot of dropping ability, so we can do some intricate things with him as well, so we're very lucky to have him."
Added defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., "So far we're very happy with him. He's a guy who from Day 1 has gotten better every time he's gone on the field. You see the development, you watch the questions he asks from Day 1 until now, and you watch the film, we like the development and we're very happy with it."
Another thing the Seahawks like about Mingo?
"Speed, just speed," Norton said with a grin. "We like how fast he is. Just play fast."
Fan photos from the fifth practice of 2018 Seahawks Training Camp, presented by Safeway at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.