McDougald is signing with Seattle on a one-year, $2 million contract, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reports. McDougald fills a clear need for a Seahawks team that previously didn't have any veteran depth at safety behind the phenomenal starting duo of Kam Chancellor (ankle) and Earl Thomas (leg) -- both of whom are recovering from surgery. It's a bit surprising McDougald had to settle for such a modest contract and a backup role, coming off a 2016 season in which he recorded a career-high 91 tackles (79 solo) while starting all 16 games for Tampa Bay. He also had 87 tackles (67 solo) and played all 16 games the previous year, but his work in pass coverage has always been questionable, which explains the inability to find a better offer.
McDougald, who set career highs in tackles, fumble recoveries and passes defensed in 2016, is a strong candidate to be re-signed before free agency officially kicks off Thursday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Young, durable and modestly salaried players are highly desirable, and as such, the 26-year-old unrestricted free agent is reportedly coveted by the Bucs for a return in 2017. McDougald enjoyed what could be considered a breakout season in 2016, and he's played in 47 out of a possible 48 games thus far in his career, adding to his appeal. While it's possible that it could come down to a decision between McDougald and fellow free-agent safety Chris Conte in terms of a re-signing, it's also certainly conceivable that both could return, given the team's approximate $66 million in available cap space.
McDougald finished the 2016 season with 91 tackles (79 solo), including three for loss, two interceptions, 10 passes defensed overall and one fumble recovery. The soon-to-be four-year veteran set career highs in tackles, fumble recoveries and passes defensed, while equaling a high-water mark in interceptions. The University of Kansas product has now upped his tackle numbers in each of his three seasons and also proven highly durable, missing only one out of a possible 48 games to date in his career. McDougald is now an unrestricted free agent after playing the 2016 campaign on a one-year, $2.55 million contract, and it remains to be seen if the secondary-needy Bucs will opt to bring him back into the fold. Rookie Ryan Smith, who logged just one tackle over 14 games while playing mostly on special teams, would presumably get first crack at McDougald's strong safety job if the latter is allowed to go elsewhere.
McDougald was credited with five tackles (all solo), including one for loss, and an interception in Sunday's 14-5 win over the Seahawks. The strong safety secured the game-sealing pick of Russell Wilson on a pass intended for Tyler Lockett, snaring the throw at the Bucs' two-yard line with 1:36 remaining in the contest. It was McDougald's second interception of the season, equaling his career-high total from 2015. With 62 tackles on the campaign, the fourth-year pro is on pace to surpass the 87 stops he compiled last season.
McDougald totaled eight tackles (six solo) and a pass defensed in Monday night's 17-14 win over the Panthers. The starting strong safety has racked up the stops the last two weeks, logging eight tackles apiece against the Broncos and Panthers. McDougald has taken to run-stopping responsibilities well in new defensive coordinator Mike Smith's scheme, as his 26 overall stops on the season through five weeks essentially have him on pace to match or potentially exceed the career-high 87 he was credited with last season. While he's yet to grab an interception and can be up-and-down in pass coverage, the 25-year-old has certainly raised his profile as an IDP option the last two games in particular.
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|2||09/17||San Francisco 49ers||14|
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