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Seahawks sign tackle Ashworth

SEATTLE (March 24, 2006) -- Former New England Patriots tackle Tom Ashworth has agreed to a $13 million, five-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks.

Agent Tom Mills said that Ashworth's deal includes a signing bonus and base salary totaling $4.5 million for 2006.

The Seahawks have yet to announce the agreement, pending Ashworth signing the contract and the league approving it.

The NFC champions were in need of a new offensive lineman after Pro Bowl left guard Steve Hutchinson signed with Minnesota.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound Ashworth has started 30 games for the Patriots over the last three regular seasons. He has mostly been at right tackle since San Francisco signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2001, including in the Super Bowl three seasons ago.

But Mills said the Seahawks have left it "open to discussion" about Ashworth replacing Hutchinson at left guard. Seattle first contacted Ashworth after Hutchinson signed the Vikings' offer sheet March 12.

Mills said the Seahawks have told Ashworth they also might move right tackle Sean Locklear, a first-time starter last season, to left guard.

"They think he's one of their five best linemen," Mills said. "On the field, we're not sure where that's going to be."

Hutchinson's departure and Ashworth's arrival mark the end of the Seahawks' continuity on the offensive line -- which was a large reason for NFL MVP Shaun Alexander rushing for a league-best 1,880 yards last season.

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