Uchenna Nwosu

Seahawks’ GM, HC Discuss Byron Murphy Pick; Team Not Expected To Trade From DL Group

MAY 8: The Rams also made an offer for the Seahawks’ No. 16 pick, according to Sportskeeda.com’s Tony Pauline. Los Angeles, which also attempted to trade up higher for Brock Bowers, is believed to have been targeting Murphy. The Eagles’ interest stemmed from a fear they would lose Quinyon Mitchell had they not traded up. Mitchell ended up falling to Philly at No. 22, while the Rams went with Florida State D-lineman Jared Verse at No. 19.

MAY 5: Going into this year’s draft, guard was arguably the Seahawks’ biggest need. And as ESPN’s Brady Henderson writes, Seattle had targeted Alabama’s JC Latham, who was selected by the Titans with the No. 7 overall pick (the ‘Hawks would have slid Latham, a collegiate tackle, to the interior of their O-line, at least in the early stages of his pro career).

[RELATED: Murphy Signs Rookie Deal]

A number of this year’s top defensive prospects fell lower than expected due to an unprecedented run on offensive talent. When the Seahawks were on the clock with the No. 16 pick, only one defensive player, UCLA edge defender Laiatu Latu, was off the board, and he went to the Colts at No. 15. That left Texas DT Byron Murphy II available for Seattle, whom the team saw as the best defender in the 2024 class. The ‘Hawks ultimately turned in the card for the former Longhorn.

As offensive players were flying off the board, the Seahawks — who did not have a second-round choice — were fielding trade offers that would have allowed them to move down the board and pick up additional draft capital in the process. Per Henderson, the ‘Hawks received offers from the Steelers, Eagles, Vikings, and Falcons (who were trying to trade back into the first round after surprisingly drafting QB Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 choice). The Packers were also interested in acquiring Seattle’s No. 16 selection, but Green Bay ultimately did not make an offer.

With Murphy still available but with Leonard Williams, Jarran Reed, Dre’Mont Jones, Johnathan Hankins, and several recent draftees already on the roster, GM John Schneider was tempted to trade back. However, Seattle is not in rebuild mode, and Schneider felt that Murphy was too good to pass up.

“I’d be lying to you if I said we didn’t think about [trading back],” Schneider said. “But [Murphy], he was just too good. He influences the game, like a lot. He’s got that ability to jump off the ball and get up field. He can play edges, he can play square, he can rush the passer inside, he gets up and down the line of scrimmage.”

New head coach Mike Macdonald added, “he just plays our style of football, really. And then he’s so talented. Versatility along the front, such an aggressive player, plays violently, heavy hands for a guy [of] shorter stature, flexible, pass-rush flexibility — you name it. Yeah, just really excited to have him.”

With all of the D-linemen on the roster and the Seahawks’ shortage of cap space — per OverTheCap.com, Seattle is the only team in the red as of the time of this writing — it would be fair to expect the club to deal from its DL surplus. However, Henderson said the team has no such plans, especially since Macdonald intends to rotate his players more frequently than his predecessor, Pete Carroll.

In related news, the team is expected to have outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu back for training camp, per Michael-Shawn Dugar of The Athletic. Nwosu, who recorded 9.5 sacks in his first Seattle slate in 2022, suffered a pectoral strain in October and missed the remainder of the 2023 campaign. He is under contract through 2026 by virtue of the three-year, $45MM extension he signed in July.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/26/23

Today’s minor moves around the NFL:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Las Vegas Raiders

New England Patriots

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Reagor has been called up as a standard gameday elevation three times now for the Patriots, the maximum under a single practice squad contract. It remains to be seen if he will stick on the team’s active roster, but if he’s going to see any more game action this year, the promotion was a necessary one. He’s obviously able to play while on the active roster, but if the team were to release him and re-sign him to the practice squad, he would have the ability to be elevated three more times on the new deal.

The Bills and Buccaneers are making their standard gameday elevations for Thursday Night Football tonight. Veterans Isabella and Norman will both be making their season debuts if they see the field tonight in Buffalo, as will LeCounte and Senat for the Bucs. Norman has a good chance to see the field with Kaiir Elam out and Tre’Davious White still on injured reserve. Senat likewise should get a chance to rotate in for Tampa with Vita Vea currently inactive.

Seahawks’ Uchenna Nwosu Out For Season

The Seahawks will be without one of their top pass rushers for the rest of the season. While Pete Carroll said earlier today (via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta) that Uchenna Nwosu suffered a pectoral strain and would miss time, a later update confirmed a long recovery timetable.

Nwosu will need season-ending surgery to repair the issue, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. This news comes nearly three months after Nwosu signed a three-year, $45MM extension to stay in Seattle through 2026.

Last season rewarded the Seahawks for a midlevel investment on the edge; Nwsou posted 9.5 sacks and notched 26 quarterback hits. The Seahawks had given the ex-Joey Bosa Chargers sidekick a two-year, $19.1MM deal in free agency. Despite never finishing a season with more than five sacks in Los Angeles, Nwosu hit the ground running in Seattle, making a big difference in the team securing a wild-card berth despite the Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner departures.

Nwosu ended up passing on the chance to use this season as a platform for a 2024 free agency audition, opting to sign an early extension that locks him down throughout the mid-2020s. That now looks like a smart move. The Seahawks guaranteed Nwosu, 26, $16.6MM at signing, according to OverTheCap. Nwosu will see an additional $6MM guaranteed, with money moving from an injury guarantee to a full guarantee, in February 2024. That represents part of his 2025 salary ($14.48MM).

Although the Bolts chose Nwosu in the 2018 second round, they kept their Bosa-Melvin Ingram pair in place for much of the USC alum’s rookie contract. Ingram did not move on until 2021, and the Chargers bumped Nwosu into their starting lineup. Nwosu notched 17 QB hits that season, displaying some upside during the five-sack contract year. That was enough for the Seahawks, who were in the process of remodeling their defense to a 3-4 look under then-new DC Clint Hurtt.

Hurtt’s unit struggled in his first season, ranking 25th in points allowed. The Seahawks operated more aggressively this offseason, adding Dre’Mont Jones and bringing back Wagner to replace the departed Cody Barton. The team has also used second-round picks on edge players in each of the past two years, drafting Boye Mafe in 2022 and Derick Hall this year. This gave Seattle a rare four-second-rounder OLB corps. Both Mafe and Hall arrived via picks obtained in the Wilson trade, and each will become a more prominent figure in the wake of Nwosu’s injury.

This year, Hurtt’s defense ranks 12th in scoring and yards allowed; Mafe has taken a step forward, with his four sacks tied for the team lead. The team also rosters Darrell Taylor, a 2020 second-round pick who fared well last season (9.5 sacks). Taylor has only started one game this year, working in a rotational role behind Nwosu and Mafe, but should now have a chance to log more playing time in a pivotal stretch for his earning potential.

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Rams, Nwosu

It has long been expected Kyler Murray will miss time to start the season. The Cardinals have not kept a great secret regarding their rebuilding strategy, and even if the team’s new regime had assembled a team on the contender radar, rushing a dual-threat quarterback in a return from an ACL tear would not be a good idea. Murray addressed this matter recently, and ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss notes the two-time Pro Bowler was not sure he can make it back by Week 1. The fifth-year passer, who is aiming to return by the season’s outset, refused to put a timetable on his recovery.

The Cardinals placed Murray on the active/PUP list, which could be a precursor to his being stashed on the reserve/PUP list. The latter designation requires a four-game absence to start the year. Colt McCoy, who missed time this offseason due to an elbow ailment, sits as the presumptive Week 1 starter if Murray can’t go. McCoy will turn 37 just before the regular season. Though, the team also rosters David Blough and drafted Clayton Tune in Round 5.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The player Murray advocated for in the first round, Paris Johnson, is working with Arizona’s first-string offensive line to start camp. During their offseason program, the Cardinals had not determined if the No. 6 overall pick would play guard or tackle. For now, the Ohio State product has lined up at tackle. Johnson began camp at right tackle, opposite D.J. Humphries, and has remained there into August, per GOPHNX.com’s Bo Brack and Weinfuss (Twitter links). The Cardinals re-signed Kelvin Beachum, their three-year right tackle starter, to a two-year, $5.15MM deal in March. With Will Hernandez and Elijah Wilkinson working as the team’s first-string guards, it will be interesting to see how the Cards proceed with Beachum and contract-year blocker Josh Jones, who replaced Humphries at left tackle after a midseason injury.
  • Staying on the subject of O-lines, both Joseph Noteboom and Alaric Jackson are back in action after moving past their respective issues (Achilles tear, blood clots), per Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required). The two have split time at left tackle in camp. Jackson is battling Joseph Noteboom for the Rams‘ left tackle job. While Noteboom was mentioned as a guard candidate — if he loses out on the blindside gig to Jackson — Rodrigue adds the loser of this battle is likely ticketed for a swing backup role. That would be quite the fall for Noteboom, who signed a three-year deal worth $40MM in 2022. Due to an offseason restructure, Noteboom is not a realistic cut candidate.
  • Uchenna Nwosu‘s three-year, $45MM Seahawks extension will pay out $16.6MM in full guarantees, according to OverTheCap. The deal moved the edge rusher’s 2023 cap hit down, by about $3MM, to $10.1MM. In 2024, Nwosu’s cap hit will drop, checking in at $8.1MM. His 2025 number spikes to $21.5MM. Nwosu’s 2025 base salary checks in at $14.5MM, and ESPN.com’s Brady Henderson notes $6MM of that total is guaranteed for injury at signing (Twitter link). That $6MM shifts to a full guarantee by February 2024, giving Nwosu partial security a year out. An incentive-based escalator (based on Nwosu’s sack totals) is in place for 2026, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson adds, with Henderson noting it could increase the ’26 payout by $6MM (Twitter links)
  • After four seasons in Kliff Kingsbury‘s Air Raid offshoot, the Cardinals look to be prepared to take advantage of their tight end depth under new OC Drew Petzing. The ex-Browns staffer is preparing to lean on two-tight end formations featuring both Zach Ertz and Trey McBride, Adam Caplan of ProFootballNetwork.com notes. Chosen in last year’s second round, McBride caught 29 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. The Colorado State product played 599 offensive snaps as a rookie, but much of that work came after Ertz’s midseason ACL tear. McCoy confirmed (via Weinfuss) the Cards should be expected to line up in 12 personnel more frequently than they did under Kingsbury.

Seahawks Extend OLB Uchenna Nwosu

JULY 25: Financial details of the deal are in, courtesy of NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Nwosu will see $45MM in base earnings across the three new years of his contract, with the potential to see as much as $59MM. That will represent a sizeable raise for the 26-year-0ld, allowing him to join the 15 other edge rushers around the league who average at least $15MM per season on their current deals. Continued progression from last season’s success will be beneficial for both team and player over the next several years.

JULY 24: After a slow start to his career in Los Angeles, edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu really found his footing during a breakout season in Seattle last year. As a result, the Seahawks have decided not to let the 26-year-old even sniff free agency, extending his contract for three years, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

Nwosu, a former second-round pick out of USC, stayed close to home for his first stop in the NFL. He played sparingly as a rotational pass rusher for the Chargers. Nwosu only made 10 starts in his first three years but contributed when given the opportunity, delivering 10.0 sacks, as well. Finally given a chance to start more regularly in a contract year, Nwosu gave his best performance to date, recording then-career-highs in total tackles (40), sacks (5.0), tackles for loss (8), quarterback hits (17), and forced fumbles (2).

The new highs were a good audition for free agency, but the numbers didn’t quite match what a full season of starting should produce. Regardless, the Seahawks took a chance on him, signing him to a “prove it” deal while still awarding him enough money to entice him to Seattle. Nwosu immediately rewarded the Seahawks for their investment. Starting every game of the season for the first time in his career, Nwosu delivered new career-highs of 66 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 26 quarterback hits, and three forced fumbles.

After such a stellar season that finally saw a production that matched Nwosu’s level of play on the field, Seattle saw no use in allowing Nwosu to play out his contract year in 2023. Instead, they signed Nwosu to a three-year extension that can be worth up to $59MM. Schefter also reported that Nwosu will receive a guaranteed amount of $32MM in the new contract. The deal doesn’t pay him as much as the top pass rushers in the league, rightfully so as he has yet to see double-digit sack totals, but if he can realize the full value of the contract, he would be a top-eight earner at the position.

Nwosu will now comfortably return to what is continuing to look like one of the NFL’s best all-around linebacking corps. He’ll lineup opposite Darrell Taylor, who also totaled 9.5 sacks last season, with Jordyn Brooks and Bobby Wagner between them. The Seahawks don’t lack depth at the position either as Devin Bush and Boye Mafe wait patiently in the wings. With contract worries now behind him, Nwosu can concentrate on continuing to progress in his NFL development for his team of the next several years.

Contract Details: Jackson, Muhammad, Nwosu

Rounding up a few contract details from recent deals:

  • Donte Jackson, CB (Panthers): Three-year, $35.18MM. The contract, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, has a guaranteed amount of $16.76MM consisting of an $11MM signing bonus and the first two years’ base salary of $1.04MM in 2022 and $4.72MM in 2023. On the third league day of the 2023 and 2024 seasons, Jackson would be due $4MM roster bonuses. The deal also includes a per game active bonus of $100,000 that can earn him up to $1.7MM per season.
  • Al-Quadin Muhammad, DE (Bears): Two-year, $8MM. The contract has a guaranteed amount of $3.3MM consisting of a $1MM signing bonus, the first year’s base salary of $1.5MM, and the first year’s roster bonus of $800,000. Muhammad would be due an identical roster bonus on the third league day of 2023. He also has a per game active bonus of $35,294 for a potential season total of $600,000.
  • Uchenna Nwosu, DE (Seahawks): Two-year, $19.06MM. The contract has a guaranteed amount of $10.54MM consisting of a signing bonus of $9.5MM and the first year’s base salary of $1.04 MM. The second year’s base salary jumps to $7.5MM. The deal includes a per game active bonus of $30,000 for a potential season total of $510,000.

Seahawks To Sign Uchenna Nwosu

The Chargers recently added to their pass rushing group, but they are now reportedly losing an incumbent edge rusher. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Seahawks are signing Uchenna Nwosu to a two-year, $20MM contract (Twitter link). The deal includes $10.5MM in guaranteed money.

[RELATED: Chargers To Acquire Khalil Mack]

The 25-year-old spent the first four seasons of his career with the Chargers. His production has increased incrementally during that time, as he has taken on a progressively increased workload. 2021 was the first season in which he played more than half of the team’s defensive snaps, with 67%.

Nwosu took advantage of the increased opportunity, totalling 40 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles. Given the steps forward he has taken in his tenure, along with his age, the former second rounder was seen by many as an under-the-radar option for teams looking to make an impact signing in the pass-rush department.

The move continues the re-making of the Seahawks’ roster. In the aftermath of franchise icons Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner being traded and released, respectively, the team is making it clear they are not entering a rebuild. The re-signing of safety Quandre Diggs, for instance, is a sign they are still willing to invest in high-priced pieces to their defense. Nwosu’s addition represents an effort to get younger at key positions, but nevertheless a commitment to remaining competitive in 2022.

Latest On FA Pass Rushers

In the estimation of Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), the quality and depth of this year’s collegiate class of pass rushers could negatively impact their professional counterparts seeking new contracts. Some of the most notable names in that latter category include the CardinalsChandler Jones and the RamsVon Miller.

Rapoport believes that Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill genuinely wants to retain Jones (as we heard last month), but the franchise tag value for the four-time Pro Bowler would be roughly $25MM, so that option is not feasible for the Cards. As such, Jones will hit the open market, and given that there has been something of a strained relationship between player and team for several years, he could be playing elsewhere in 2022.

Meanwhile, Rapoport expects the Rams to do everything they can to retain Miller, who is, like Jones, prepared to test the open market. Of course, the reigning Super Bowl champs also have new contracts for Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald on their radar, so GM Les Snead will have his work cut out for him when trying to re-up his prized trade acquisition.

A less heralded (but much younger) option for clubs in need of pass rush help could be Chargers OLB Uchenna Nwosu. As Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports, the Bolts and Nwosu have mutual interest in a new contract, but despite Nwosu’s desire to remain with his hometown team, the money will need to be right. Wilson suggests that the 25-year-old is targeting a contract with an average annual value between $10MM-$13MM, which would seem to be a fair price for an ascending player who put together a strong 2021 campaign — five sacks, eight TFL, 17 QB hits, and an interception — despite playing through a serious labrum injury.

The Colts, Packers, Bills, and Jets are all teams that could have interest in Nwosu, per Wilson. There is a good chance that Green Bay releases Za’Darius Smith, so Nwosu could serve as a Smith replacement in Wisconsin. In a separate piece, Wilson reports that the Jets, like the Chiefs, would be in on Smith should he indeed become a Packers cap casualty.

Eagles GM Howie Roseman is certainly monitoring both collegiate pass rushers as well as the free agent market. When discussing how he is prioritizing his team’s pass rush, Roseman recently said, “I’d be surprised if we didn’t do something there” (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com). Zach Berman and Bo Wulf of The Athletic (subscription required) believe there is a good chance Philadelphia grabs an edge rusher with at least one of its three first-round picks, especially since they expect Roseman to let DE Derek Barnett depart in free agency.

ESPN.com’s Jordan Reid, Matt Miller, and Todd McShay provide a detailed breakdown of the strong performance put on by the 2022 draft class of front seven players at this year’s scouting combine (subscription required).

Chargers Notes: Gates, Jones, Smith, Nwosu

After Hunter Henry was lost for the season with a torn ACL, it was immediately speculated that the Chargers might look to bring back Antonio Gates. Gates’ NFL career appeared to be over after the Chargers indicated they were moving on, but Henry’s injury threw him a lifeline.

Gates isn’t interested in playing for any other team, and the two sides had talks right after Henry went down. Despite there still being no deal in place with the preseason already underway, Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said “we’re still talking with him” after the Chargers’ game against the Cardinals, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN. Williams points out that the Chargers tight ends accounted for five drops in the preseason opener, and Lynn said “we need to make more plays at the tight end position.” It all sounds like eventually something will get done with Gates.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • In the race to be Philip Rivers‘ backup between Geno Smith and Cardale Jones, Smith “appeared to seize control of the competition” with his strong performance in the first week of the preseason, Williams writes. Smith threw for over 200 yards while Jones, who started the game, threw for only 50 on 12 attempts.
  • Williams writes that rookie linebacker Uchenna Nwosu could start right away for the team. Nwosu, the 48th overall pick in this year’s draft from USC, had a sack and two quarterback hits in his professional debut.
  • In case you missed it, we took a look at the Chargers’ situation at guard as Forrest Lamp continues to rehab from a knee injury.

Chargers Sign Five Draft Picks

First-round safety Derwin James is now the only Chargers 2018 draft pick without a contract, as Los Angeles announced that the following selection have signed their rookie deals:

Third-round defensive tackle Justin Jones is also under contract, leaving James as the sole holdout. NFL rookie deals are now a breeze to negotiate thanks to the league’s most recent collective bargaining agreement, but James will likely sign his deal soon. First-rounders are often able to push for certain contractual issues, such as timing of bonus payments, but James is participating in the Chargers’ rookie minicamp even without a pact.

Most of the players signed by Los Angeles today will likely need to make their rookie mark on special teams duty, but Nwosu could have a chance at playing time in 2018. Although largely an edge rusher at USC, Nwosu probably won’t see much time as a pass-rusher given that the Chargers already employ Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. But the 6’2″, 240-pounder could find a role as a inside ‘backer, an area of weakness for the Bolts.