While other teams may have had interest in versatile lineman George Fant, the Seattle Seahawks most likely ensured he’ll be staying in the Pacific Northwest for the 2019 season.
According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, the Seahawks opted to use a second-round tender on Fant, who will now earn $3.095 million for the 2019 season.
As they did with Quinton Jefferson earlier on Wednesday, the Seahawks could have used an original round tender on Fant in an effort to keep him at a cheaper price. But unlike Jefferson, Fant joined the team as an undrafted free agent and any other team wouldn’t have had to surrender draft compensation if they signed him to an offer sheet and Seattle chose not to match.
Offering prior starting experience at both tackle spots and still only 26 years old, Fant certainly would’ve drawn interest from other NFL teams under those circumstances, as he could’ve been signed without costing his new team draft picks. Given Seattle’s lack of financial flexibility with Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, and Frank Clark due extensions, the team likely wouldn’t have been able to match.
By using the more expensive second-round tender, Seattle shouldn't have to fret about another team trying to snag Fant, as they'd be forced to hand over a second-round draft pick.
Fant opened his NFL career as an undrafted free agent out of Western Kentucky, where he starred as a college basketball player and only played one season of football. Despite lacking any prior experience playing offensive line, he wound up starting 10 games at left tackle protecting Russell Wilson’s blind side as a rookie and entered training camp the following season as the presumed starter.
Unfortunately, Fant suffered a devastating knee injury in Seattle’s second preseason game, tearing his ACL and landing on season-ending injured reserve. His injury eventually forced the Seahawks to ship a second and third-round pick to the Texans for Duane Brown, who signed a three-year extension last August.
After battling through rigorous rehab, Fant returned without a starting role but still contributed in a big way towards Seattle’s offensive success last season. Though he only started twice as a tackle, he stepped up as a sixth lineman and reserve tight end, playing a grand total of 371 snaps and helping the Seahawks rush for over 2,500 yards.
Additionally, he snagged his first career reception, though he did trip over the turf monster before picking up nine yards.
Choosing to use a high-round tender to retain him, the Seahawks clearly still view Fant as an important piece of the puzzle up front, as starting right tackle Germain Ifedi will enter the final year of his rookie deal and will turn 34 years old in August.
Still developing and learning the game, Fant remains a long-term starting option and depending on what happens at the two guard spots, he could return to the starting lineup as early as next season. Ifedi already offers starting experience at right guard and if both J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker don’t return, Seattle could easily slide him back inside and install Fant in his place at right tackle.
At minimum, keeping Fant through the 2019 season gives the Seahawks excellent depth at both tackle positions as well as additional depth at tight end, which should allow line coach Mike Solari an extended opportunity to evaluate him as a future starter.