The Seattle Seahawks are making a rare splash in the first wave of free agency to address their biggest position group of need.
The team has agreed to a three-year deal with former Denver Broncos defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones, he told CBS Sports on Monday night.
The deal is worth $51 million, according to The Score. That easily makes it the largest contract in terms of annual average the Seahawks have given to another team’s free agent under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, topping the $9.5 million average of the deal they gave Uchenna Nwosu last year.
Schneider spoke bluntly at the NFL scouting combine last week and the need to improve the front seven of Seattle’s defense after the Seahawks allowed the third-most rushing yards per game of any team last season and finished 28th in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate.
“I think we’ve got to get a lot better,” Schneider said. “Yeah, we need to be better up front. I think that was pretty evident. We were on the field a lot. We didn’t defend the run real well. We had some games in there [when] we did a really nice job. And we had several games that didn’t go so well. We know what the issues are and we’re ready to attack them and fix them.”
Jones led the Broncos with 6.5 sacks this season despite missing the final four games of the season with a hip injury that did not require surgery. He was moved to injured reserve Dec. 11.
Armed with a hard to find quickness-size combination at 281 pounds, Jones, who turned 26 in January, has shown the ability to push the pocket on the inside in nickel rush situations and move to the end spot on early downs.
His potential versatility for either 3-4 or 4-3 defenses — the Broncos played a base 3-4 in each of his four seasons — make him an intriguing option. This past season, he played 451 snaps at defensive tackle and 224 at end, with four of his sacks coming while lined up on the edge.
Jones has disruptive upside as a pass-rusher with first-step quickness and short-area juice. His pass rush win rate when lined up inside (15.9%) ranked sixth among all defenders in 2022.
A third-round pick of the Broncos in 2019, Jones was a regular throughout his first four seasons in Denver, but he started more than seven games for the first time in 2022. He had a career-high 47 tackles last season while his sack total tied his high from 2020.
Broncos general manager George Paton had said this past season that he hoped to re-sign Jones, calling him “one of our core players.”
ESPN’s Jeff Legwold and Matt Bowen contributed to this report.