FoxSports.com first announced earlier today that Walter Jones has agreed to terms with a contract offer by the Seahawks. The story was then confirmed by the Seahawks a few hours later.
Initial reports have the deal spanning seven years and totaling $52.5 million. In addition, Jones will receive a signing bonus that exceeds $15 million and includes additional roster bonuses over the first three years. The total package averages more than $7 million per season, putting him on par with the likes of Jonathan Ogden as one of the highest paid linemen in the NFL. Previously, the highest signing bonus the team had ever doled out was $14 million to DE Grant Wistrom in 2004, as part of Wistrom's six-year, $33 million contract.
Seattle had franchised Jones, long respected as one of the premier offensive linemen in the NFL, every year since 2002. If they had franchised him again, it would have cost the Seahawks about $8.5 million against their cap for 2005. And in the face of an extreme amount of uncertainty among Seahawks fans with sixteen free agents on the block and no official Team President since Bob Whitsitt's firing in Mid-January, the Jones signing comes as a balm to the soul of the fans. By all accounts, returning consultant Mike Reinfeldt spearheaded the negotiations with Jones and his agent, Roosevelt Barnes.
The Jones signing allows the Seahawks to designate either QB Matt Hasselbeck or RB Shaun Alexander as their franchise player. Local speculation is high that Hasselbeck will ink his own deal very soon. If that is the case, Alexander (the NFC's leading rusher in 2004 with 1696 yards) would be the obvious choice to get the franchise tag.
Seahawks Sign Walter Jones!
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