There’s something to be said for familiarity.
And that was indeed the case for the Seahawks on Monday, when they extended the contracts of linebacker Mike Morgan and tight end Anthony McCoy on the eve of the NFL free-agency period beginning Tuesday; and also re-signed veteran cornerback Will Blackmon, who was with the team during training camp in 2013.
When special teams captains Michael Robinson (retirement) and Heath Farwell (injury) were lost before the start of the 2014 season, the Seahawks turned to Morgan. The fourth-year linebacker had six coverage tackles to tie for second on the team, returned a punt that was blocked by Doug Baldwin for a touchdown and helped bridge the leadership gap created by the losses of Robinson and Farwell.
“This is his best football he’s ever played,” coach Pete Carroll said during the season – and Carroll also coached Morgan at USC before the Seahawks signed him as a rookie free agent in 2011. “It’s really pleasing to see.
“He’s a huge factor on special teams for us. He can play three different spots at linebacker, playing nickel situations and all that. He’s just a really versatile guy. He is kind of quietly doing a great job. That’s really what’s happening.”
McCoy missed all of last season after tearing an Achilles tendon during a training camp practice. He also was sidelined for the 2013 season after tearing an Achilles during an OTA session in May. But a healthy McCoy would help ease the loss of veteran tight end Zach Miller, whose contract was terminated Friday after he failed a physical.
The 6-foot-5, 239-pound McCoy had career-bests in receptions (18) and touchdown catches (three) in 2012 and also had 13 catches in 2011, when he started nine games.
McCoy was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent and Morgan a restricted free agent Tuesday.
Blackmon, 30, was among those released on the roster cut to 75 players in 2013 and he played that season and the 2014 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Seahawks liked Blackmon, but simply didn’t have room for the former Green Bay Packer and New York Giant because they already had All-Pro Richard Sherman, fellow starter Brandon Browner, part-time starter Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The club also had selected cornerback Tharold Simon in the fifth round of the NFL Draft and had the versatile DeShawn Shead on their practice squad.
So Blackmon signed with Jacksonville, where former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was in his first season as the Jaguars’ head coach. Blackmon started eight games in 2013, when he had a career-high 40 tackles and his first NFL interception. He played in eight games and started four last season, when he had 30 tackles.
But with Lane recovery from knee and forearm injuries he sustained in the loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX last month, Maxwell expected to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles when free agency begins Tuesday and Browner (Patriots) and Thurmond (New York Jets) signing elsewhere in free agency last year, Blackmon’s return makes sense for the player and the team.
The 6-foot, 204-pound Blackmon was a fourth-round pick by the Packers in the 2006 NFL Draft, but he broke a foot in 2007 and damaged his left knee in 2009. He was released on the final roster cut in 2010. He played for the Giants in 2010 and 2011, when he injured a knee and sat out the 2012 season.
Now, he’s back for another shot at making one of the most-talented and deepest rosters in the league. Sherman, Lane, Simon and Shead still are here, as is Marcus Burley, who was acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts last August.