As everyone has already reported, the Hawks resigned Leon Washington to a 4 year deal worth up to $16 million. I'm excited about the signing. It shows a loyalty to players that came in and produced, and it shows an acknowledgement to how important the special teams squad is to the Hawks' coaching staff and front office. Special Teams can be the forgotten group; typically young no-namers competing for a job. They aren't bad players, but inexperienced a lot of the time. The Hawks' special teams won them at least 2 or 3 games by themselves last year. They were indirectly responsible for several other wins as well. The field position game is SO important to an offense like Seattle' and one that cannot be neglected. I love that the Hawks have shown they value this by re-signing special teams' stalwarts Roy Lewis, Kennard Cox, and now Leon Washington.
Leon did a great job of creating good field position time and again for the Hawks. He came in at RB several times and created a spark. He will most likely be worked into the offense more this year, as in his limited action, he was at least as productive, if not more so than Justin Forsett. That's not an indictment on Force, but more of an indication of how good Washington is. He's dynamic in the backfield, and has a knack for picking the right hole to run through. I believe this is also why he's such a good return man. The ability to choose the right hole or which direction to run is not really something you can teach; you really don't have time to process it so it comes down more to gut instinct and an intangible ability to be elusive. Speed is important, but there are a lot of fast guys in the NFL. Only a few of those players are elite return specialists like Leon.
Leon has a career average of 25.6 yards per kickoff return. That's better than that one guy, Devin Hester.
In 2010, Leon matched his career average with 25.6 yards per return on his way to racking up over 1450 yards on returns and 3 return TDs (should have been 4, as we all know). His per return average was near the top in the league and was very often the spark the Seahawks' needed to get momentum back.
On Punts, Leon averaged 11.3 yards on 22 tries. This was also near the top of the league in average. This type of consistent effort by Leon was crucial to the Seahawks staying in games and even in a few cases, winning games. I can't stress enough how important field position was for a Seahawks team that really struggled to run the ball with any consistency.
Overall, it's a great signing. He's popular with the fans, in the lockeroom, and he's a respected leader on the team. He's a class act. I love that he'll be in a Hawks uniform for the next few years. I just hope he doesn't celebrate before he's in the endzone ever again. For his sake, and ours.
Just check out the holes he finds. Ridiculous.