RENTON -- The Seattle Seahawks opened training camp on Thursday morning with the knowledge their top defensive tackle will miss over a third of the season while suspended and their star middle linebacker commenced the most cordial contract holdout ever.
The NFL handed down a six-game suspension for Jarran Reed on Monday stemming from an alleged domestic violence incident in April 2017 that resulted in neither an arrest or criminal charges. Nevertheless, the league determined Reed's actions rose to the level of a violation of their personal conduct policy and handed down the suspension early this week.
Reed said Thursday after practice that he disagrees with the suspension but accepts it.
"First and foremost, I would like to say that I'm very saddened to the news that I'll be suspended six games," Reed said. "Of course I disagree with the decision based on the facts. I've grown over the years that I've had to learn and to grow and to mature as a leader, as a person that has good character and for sure that's going to play hard and do everything I can for my teammates. The only thing we can do is move forward. I respect the NFL's decision. We just move forward and continue to do better."
Reed wouldn't get into any details regarding the incident. The police reports of the events characterized Reed as having grabbing a girlfriend by the neck and later taking her by the arm in an effort to drag her down a staircase after an altercation between the girlfriend and another woman at the party. Reed was also alleged to have broken down a bathroom door in an attempt to get to the girlfriend after she had broken free and locked herself in.
Reed said his version of events is different but wouldn't elaborate.
"Just based on the facts I just disagree with it," Reed said.
Head coach Pete Carroll similarly said they accept the league's decision regarding Reed's suspension. However, he did seem to imply some annoyance that the suspension wasn't handed down until days before training camp began.
"Well it's been a long time in the works," Carroll said. "We respect what the league has done and the decisions that they make. Jarran has been working at this for some time now. I appreciate the growth and the maturity and the transparency that he's brought forth in showing us that he does understand that it's a very serious issue. I think our guys in general have shown that kind of growth and maturity and you can just feel that he's learned from this and he's moving ahead.
"It just took such a long time. We didn't know what was going on. We could have heard much sooner than this so we didn't know. We weren't sure."
Reed said he's fully recovered from the sports hernia surgery that limited his participation over the offseason. However, he won't be able to put his abilities to use until mid-October due to the suspension.
"That's very hard to know that I'm not going to be able to be out there with my guys," Reed said. "That really hurts because I love the game of football and just got to eat the bullet and just got to do better."
The Seahawks signed veteran defensive tackle Earl Mitchell on Wednesday as additional depth at the position with Reed set to miss the start of the year. Mitchell has played nine seasons in the NFL with the last two spent with the San Francisco 49ers. He's started 28 of 30 games played for San Francisco over that stretch.
"Whenever we lose somebody it's the next guy up," Carroll said. "And that's what this situation will call for. He'll work with us all through camp and all that and then he'll have to leave. In the meantime, it's a competitive opportunity for other guys that we're going to watch it unfold. We made a move with Earl to get Earl in here. He's a nice football player. We've always really respected his work and his maturity and all. He brings a certain type of level of experience that will fill that void that J. Reed has been for us. He's been a very strong leader on our team so I'm hoping that Earl will just be able to give us that feel."
Despite the suspension, Carroll said Reed has shown growth and maturity over his first three years with Seattle and he has no hesitation in continuing to support Reed moving forward. Reed is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract with the team and is set to become a free agent in March.
"I feel like he's done a tremendous job of dealing with the situation, letting us know... we've known of this for a great deal of time now and we've watched his maturity and his way of handling things. I have no hesitation in supporting him going down the road," Carroll said.
Photo Credit: Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed speaks about his six-game suspension handed down by the NFL for a violation of the league's personal conduct policy due to an April 2017 alleged altercation. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio KJR)
Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner reported for training camp on time and was on the practice fields on Thursday with the rest of his teammates. However, Wagner followed the same script as during offseason workouts when he was present but not participating.
Wagner watched practice on Thursday from the fringes while wearing a sweat suit and street shoes.
Wagner continues to seek a new contract from the team as he gets set to enter the final year of his current deal with the team. Wagner and the Seahawks have seemed to remain on good terms throughout discussions despite a deal still yet to come together. It may be a much more cordial holdout than previous iterations from Marshawn Lynch, Kam Chancellor or Earl Thomas, but it would seem to be a holdout nonetheless. This one much more of a sit-in than an outright boycott.
“I will be here — that will be my participation,’’ Wagner said of his decision in May. “I will be here helping the young guys, doing whatever I can. … You want to send the right message. You want to support the guys. I do feel like the quarterback of the defense is pretty important, so not having that piece would put a damper on the defense. I just feel like it’s important for our success, so I’m here."
While Carroll seemed to be tolerant of the idea of Wagner sitting during mostly voluntary workouts in the spring, he may not be so open to Wagner's lack of participation now that training camp is underway. He said that he had not had any conversations with Wagner about his intentions not to practice before the first workout on Thursday, but anticipated that the two would have those discussions shortly.
"We’ve been working with Bobby for some time and there’s been a lot of conversations and a lot of stuff going on and really, at this time, there’s a little issue about getting down at the practice field," Carroll said. "At this time, I did not talk to him about today and we will visit on that. We’ll work with him hopefully to make a really good decision; both ends of it. We love him, he’s been a really great player, great guy in the program, and we respect the heck out of him.
“I anticipated that he wouldn’t (practice). We didn’t talk about it, necessarily. We are pretty much on the same page about a lot of stuff, so, we are in a good position right now.”
The New York Jets gave C.J. Mosley a five-year deal worth $85 million with $51 million guaranteed. At an average of $17 million a year, Mosley's deal massively raised the bar of contracts at the linebacker position in the NFL. Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers had been the previous benchmark at $12.4 million a year. The Atlanta Falcons have since signed Deion Jones to a four-year extension worth $57 million with $25.8 million fully guaranteed. That brings Jones' new money average to $14.25 million a year and surpasses Kuechly's deal as well.
While Mosley and Jones are both very good players, Wagner is more accomplished in nearly every aspect. He's also well aware of the contract Mosley received and how that relates to his own upcoming negotiations. Wagner said in May he planned on setting a new bar for the position.
“I mean, the number is the number, the market is the market. That’s the top (of the) linebacker market,” Wagner said. “That is the standard. And so that is the plan to break that.”
Even without a contract having come together for the start of training camp, Carroll and Wagner both appear set on keeping the relationship on good terms and working through the disagreement without letting the dispute become disruptive.
"We are trying to, hopefully, come to a resolution," Carroll said. "There’s a lot going on and I respect where Bobby’s brain is right now. He’s trying to figure it out and take it one day at a time.”
Wagner is set to earn $10.5 million in base salary in the final year of his deal with the Seahawks with an additional $1 million available in per-game roster bonuses, according to OverTheCap.com.
-- Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and tight end Will Dissly were not placed on the physically unable to perform list for the start of camp. Ansah won't practice for a while yet as he continues to strengthen his shoulders following surgery. The injury is what ended his season last year with the Detroit Lions. While the injury is now healed, it will still take time for Ansah's shoulder to get back to full strength. Ansah will take part in team walkthroughs in the interim but will be withheld from practice for a while.
"We are just going to ease our way into these days and see how he can handle the work, don’t want to rush it. We thought all along that it would probably be all the way through camp," Carroll said.
Dissly is also going to be eased into camp as he returns from torn patella tendon that ended his season last October. Dissly does appear to be a bit closer to returning to practice than Ansah at this point.
"We didn’t know if he was going to be ready to start camp," Carroll said of Dissly. "Months ago, we were waiting to see, we were always hoping for this. He made it. We just got to ease him in. He’s in great shape and looks good and really is ahead of the schedule that maybe some people would have for him.”
-- Rookie safety Marquise Blair and rookie linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven both passed their physicals and were activated from the physically unable to perform list. Both players are expected to be back at practice within the next couple of days.
-- Guard Phil Haynes had sports hernia surgery about a month ago and will be sidelined for a few weeks. He is expected back before the end of camp. Defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas is dealing with a back injury that will keep him out "a bit," per Carroll. Both players remain on the physically unable to perform list.
-- Running back C.J. Prosise missed the first day or practice with the flu but is expected back on the field in the next day or two.
-- Linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee appeared to bang his right knee in a collision following a catch from wide receiver Keenan Reynolds and he hobbled to the sidelines. Defensive tackle Nazair Jones also had his left knee wrapped midway through practice and did not return.
Photo Credit: Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner watches practice on July 25, 2019. Wagner is not taking part in practices as he tries to reach a contract extension with the Seahawks. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio KJR)