The Seahawks and Jon Ryan agreed to terms on a new contract Friday, keeping the punter and special teams captain in Seattle for the next four seasons.
Special teams play has been a big focus for the Seahawks under Pete Carroll, and Ryan's leg has played a big role in Seattle being one of the league's best teams in that phase of the game year after year.
But what will make this move a popular one among fans isn't just that it helps Seattle stay strong at an important position, but also the bond Ryan and Seahawks fans have that is unusual when it comes to a punter. Whether it's Ryan's sense of humor, the touchdown pass he threw in the NFC championship game, or his toughness—he broke his nose in January's playoff win at Minnesota and finished the game—Ryan has become a fan favorite during his time in Seattle for more than just his ability to affect field position.
While presenting an award at this year's Sports Star of the Year awards last month, Ryan joked about his pending free agency, "announcing" he had just signed a new deal with Seattle before providing the punchline: "Yeah, I signed it, now I just need them to sign it. It was a really lucrative deal too."
But Ryan also got a little sentimental about his time in Seattle and his relationship with the fans, saying, "I've been here for eight years playing for the Seahawks, and it has been the best eight years of my life. The people in Seattle, the people in Washington, the people in the Pacific Northwest have accepted a fair-skinned, freckle-faced redheaded kid from Canada with a speech impediment who punts a football, and made him feel like a super star… You guys are the greatest fans in the world."
With Brandon Mebane heading to San Diego in free agency, Ryan who signed with Seattle in 2008, is the longest-tenured player on the roster, and the only player who predates Pete Carroll and John Schneider's hiring in 2010. Ryan is the fourth unrestricted free agent retained by Seattle this week along with receiver Jermaine Kearse, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin and cornerback Jeremy Lane.
Take a look at some of the best Jon Ryan photos over his last 8 seasons with the Seahawks. Looks like we'll have few more years of this goodness.