Kerney, who visited Seattle over the weekend, was thought to be the most likely free agent to sign with the Seahawks after the team was rebuffed at the eleventh hour by Chargers guard Kris Dielman. Kerney has ties with Seahawks assistant coach/secondary coach Jim Mora, who was his head coach in Atlanta from 2004 through 2006, and team president Tim Ruskell, who was the Falcons’ assistant general manager in 2004.
Mora was one of a cadre of Seahawks who took owner Paul Allen’s private plane to Atlanta to consummate the deal.
Kerney had also visited Denver, but Caplan reports that the Seahawks structured their offer in a way that would make it difficult for Denver to match.
"This is like having 1,000 pounds lifted off my back," Kerney told Steve Wyche of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of his decision after the move to Seattle was a sure thing. "I couldn't lose. I tried to take my relationships with Jim (Mora) and (former Falcons and current Broncos defensive line coach) Bill Johnson out of it. I felt like I had a slightly better chance to win a Super Bowl with Seattle."
This is the second straight year that the Seahawks have made a big free-agent splash on a pass-rushing defender after losing out on a marquee guard. Last year, the team was “poison-pilled” out of Steve Hutchinson’s services by the Minnesota Vikings, and responded by signing former San Francisco OLB Julian Peterson. Peterson immediately became an impact player for the Seahawks, racking up a career-high 10 sacks in his first season in Seattle.
Now the challenge for Kerney, the 6’5”, 273-pounf former Virginia star who was picked by Atlanta in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, will be to match Peterson’s impact, and avoid the precedent of Grant Wistrom, the former St. Louis Rams DE who signed a huge contract in 2004 and hasn’t lived up to it. Kerney has amassed ten or more sacks in three different seasons, but he hasn’t done it since 2004. He’s also coming off a pectoral muscle injury that caused him to miss the last seven games of the 2006 season, but reports indicate that he’s at least two months ahead of schedule in his rehab.
In his career, the nine-year veteran has racked up 356 tackles (270 solo), 58 sacks, two interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and 18 passes defensed.
The Seahawks continue to negotiate with former Patriots TE Daniel Graham, and several other free agents are still in the mix. Stay tuned to Seahawks.NET for more details!