Monday, February 18, 2008

Seahawks sign Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle

February 15, 2008

By Associated Press

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) - The Seattle Seahawks signed former Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle to a five-year contract Thursday.

Agent Neil Cornrich declined to specify the value of the deal, but it is believed to be comparable to what other starting guards in the league earn. That would mean approximately $3 million in base salary, plus many more millions in a signing bonus.

Wahle, a 10-year veteran who was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and '06 while with Carolina, earned $18 million in base salary and bonuses in his last three seasons with the Panthers before they cut him Monday in a salary-cap move.

The 6-foot-6, 304-pound Wahle will become the fourth left guard the Seahawks have tried since All-Pro Steve Hutchinson left after the 2005 season in a tricky free-agent deal with Minnesota. Hutchinson's contract included unprecedented "poison pill" contract provisions that the Seahawks vehemently protested but ultimately could not match.

The Seahawks then tried Floyd Womack and Chris Spencer, now their starting center, at left guard. After that failed, the Seahawks thought they had agreed on a contract with free agent guard Kris Dielman last offseason, but his teammates persuaded him to re-sign with the San Diego Chargers instead. So Seattle rotated inconsistent Rob Sims and the injury-prone Womack at left guard during games throughout the last half of 2007.

The Seahawks' problems in running the ball are getting coach Mike Holmgren's full attention this offseason. Wahle's signing is the first proof.

The New England Patriots and "just about every team in the league who had openings on the offensive line" were interested in Wahle, Cornrich said. But the Seahawks had inherent advantages.

Wahle's father played at suburban Bellevue, Wash., High School and at Oregon State. Wahle's parents have a second home in Bainbridge Island, Wash., across the bay from downtown Seattle. And the family has many relatives in the Northwest.

"The Seahawks definitely had a home-field advantage with Mike," Cornrich said in a telephone interview from Cleveland.

Wahle's rookie season was Holmgren's final season as Packers' coach before he arrived in Seattle. Holmgren will coach his final season with the Seahawks in 2008.

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