Seahawks ‘Ascending’ Starter Leaves for $53 Million Deal: ‘Massive Payday’

Mike Macdonald

Getty The Seattle Seahawks lost starting guard Damien Lewis to a massive deal with the Carolina Panthers.

The start of the Seattle Seahawks free agency has largely been defined by players leaving. Starting guard Damien Lewis joined the Carolina Panthers on a massive four-year, $53 million contract.

Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz labeled Lewis as an “ascending player” while adding that the offensive linemen’s sizable raise represents a “massive payday.”

“BREAKING: Free agent guard Damien Lewis plans to sign with the Panthers for 4 years, $53M, sources tell @BleacherReport,” Schultz detailed in a series of March 11, 2024 messages on X. “Damien Lewis also gets $26M guaranteed at signing and $27M over the first two years from the Panthers, sources tell @BleacherReport.

“A massive payday for an ascending player. Carolina added Robert Hunt earlier today, and now fortifies its interior line with Lewis.”

Former Seahawks Guard Damien Lewis’ Projected Market Value Was a 2-Year, $14 Million Deal

The Panthers paid a considerable amount more for Lewis’ than his projected contract value. Heading into free agency, Spotrac projected that Lewis’ market value was a two-year, $14.8 million deal.

This marks a significant raise for Lewis who previously played on a four-year, $4.9 million rookie deal. The Seahawks selected Lewis in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft with the No. 69 overall pick.

It proved to be a prudent selection for Seattle as Lewis was a four-year starter. Lewis started in 61 games during his stint with the Seahawks, including 16 contests in back-to-back seasons.

Seahawks News: Seattle Signed George Fant Who Spent His 1st 3 Seasons With the Team

After a slow start to free agency, Seattle has picked up the pace making several outside additions. The Seahawks signed veteran tackle George Fant to a two-year deal worth a maximum of $14 million.

“Seahawks deal for George Fant, per a league source: two years with a maximum value of nearly $14 million with a $3.7 million signing bonus,” KPRC’s Aaron Wilson noted in a March 14 message on X. “Fant had a strong season for #Texans who wanted him back, and had interest from multiple NFL teams.”

Fant is a familiar face who played his first three NFL seasons with the Seahawks. The tackle made 24 starts for Seattle before signing with the New York Jets.

Fant played in 16 games for the Texans in 2023, including 13 starts. The veteran did not earn favorable marks from Pro Football Focus receiving a 63.5 (out of 100) grade for 2023.

NFL Free Agency: The Seahawks Lost Several Key Players Including Bobby Wagner & Jordyn Brooks

Seattle began free agency by prioritizing re-signing two of their own players: tight end Noah Fant and pass rusher Leonard Williams. The biggest outside move so far has been the addition of safety Rayshawn Jenkins.

The veteran started two seasons as a strong safety for the Los Angeles Chargers before playing the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars over the past three years. In addition to Lewis, Seattle has lost several other key players in free agency including linebacker Bobby Wagner, quarterback Drew Lock, linebacker Jordyn Brooks and running back DeeJay Dallas.

“Couple early observations from #Seahawks free agency…1. Mike Macdonald clearly likes entire cornerback room. Biggest area of continuity,” Sports Illustrated’s Corbin Smith said in a March 14 message on X. “2. Major emphasis on signing blue collar players who do their job, play with sound fundamentals like Jenkins, Harris, Brown.”