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Seahawks, DE Kerney agree to six-year deal

KIRKLAND, Wash. (March 6, 2007) -- Looking to add depth and bolster their pass rush, the Seattle Seahawks agreed to a six-year deal with defensive end Patrick Kerney.

Kerney's agent, Richard Rosa, said Kerney agreed to a deal worth $39.5 million, including $19.5 million in guaranteed money.

Kerney spent his entire career with the Atlanta Falcons, but was limited by injury to just nine games last season. He voided the final two years of his contract late last month and became one of the most lucrative commodities on the free agent market.

The 30-year-old Kerney ranks third on the Falcons' career list with 58 sacks. He made 105 consecutive starts before he tore his right pectoral muscle in the ninth game of 2006. He was leading the team with 4 1/2 sacks at the time of the injury.

The injury may have reminded Kerney, a 1999 first-round pick out of Virginia, that this could be his last chance for a big contract.

Seattle appeared to win out over Denver for Kerney, whose agreement was first reported by ESPN.com. Kerney visited with the Broncos before coming to Seattle.

"It was a very tough decision for him. It was neck and neck to the end," Rosa said. "He felt the better opportunity to win a championship was in Seattle."

With Seattle, Kerney will join a defensive end unit that includes veterans Bryce Fisher and Grant Wistrom, and energetic youngster Darryl Tapp. The Seahawks struggled to get any consistent pass rush from their ends for much of last season as Wistrom and Fisher combined for just eight sacks. Hybrid linebacker Julian Peterson led Seattle with 10 sacks.

Kerney earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2004 with a career-high 13 sacks. He had 12 sacks in his 2001 breakout season.

There were early concerns that Kerney (6-foot-5, 273 pounds) would be too light to be an effective run-stopper, but he bulked up and even started at end in a 3-4 scheme.

Kerney will be reunited in Seattle with former Atlanta head coach Jim Mora, who is now the Seahawks' assistant head coach in charge of the secondary. Kerney also had a previous relationship with Seattle general manager Tim Ruskell, who spent one season in Atlanta as the Falcons' assistant GM.

"I think that played a factor," Rosa said.

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