Rather than tender a restricted free agent contract to defensive tackle Poona Ford, the Seahawks instead signed one of their best young players to a two-year deal on Wednesday.
Ford, who signed with the Seahawks as an undrafted rookie in 2018, was likely going to be back in 2021 regardless due to his restricted free-agent status. But instead of going that route, which would have led to Ford becoming a free agent next year, the Seahawks rewarded Ford with a multi-year deal prior to the start of the new league year, which serves as the deadline to tender contracts to restricted free agents.
"It's a great feeling," Ford said in a phone interview after signing his contract. "Ever since I got here, Seattle always felt like a home away from home for me, so I'm glad to still be here."
Ford said getting a multi-year deal, rather than the one-year RFA tender, "just made me feel like they want to keep me here. They emphasized that it was a priority that I stay in Seattle, and I'm just glad we got it done. I'm just thankful to be here in Seattle."
Ford, 25, made the team as an undrafted rookie and appeared in 11 games in 2018, primarily as a run-stopping interior lineman. He became a starter in his second season and has started 30 games over the past two seasons, including all 16 games last year. Ford enjoyed career-best numbers last year with 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss and nine quarterback hits. According to the analytic site Pro Football Focus, Ford was the 15th best defensive tackle in the league last season, and his play last year showed his development as a more complete lineman who can do a lot more than just stop the run.
"His growth over the last few years—just seeing him come in as a young guy that no one had any expectations (of), to becoming a starter, to becoming a guy who can play on first, second and now third down, to becoming a really dominant player at his position," defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said late last season. "Making plays on the perimeter, up the middle, being able to drop back into coverage. And he still doesn't say a word; he speaks volume with his action, with motions, with his play. Just watching his growth, and he's still ascending, there's still so much more out there for him. He can develop into a really solid rusher as well as a run-stopper and a guy who can hit the gaps. So we're really happy with Poona. He's an amazing person, and he's a really, really good player."
A look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks defensive tackle Poona Ford from the 2020 season. Ford signed a multi-year contract with Seattle on Wednesday, March 17.