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Old 03-31-2005, 12:10 PM  
Mr. Laz
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Hawks retain Tobeck, Bannister

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Hawks retain Tobeck, Bannister


KIRKLAND -- The Seahawks crossed two more free agents off their to-do list yesterday by agreeing to contract terms with center Robbie Tobeck and wide receiver Alex Bannister.

Retaining Tobeck was a priority because he provides veteran leadership on a unit that is expected to have two new starters on right side this season -- Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack at guard and either Sean Locklear or Wayne Hunter at tackle.

Tobeck, 35, will return for a sixth season with the Seahawks. The former Washington State center played his first six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

Undersized at 297 pounds, Tobeck compensates by taking excellent angles and using leverage to make his blocks. But his real value is his ability to make the pre-snap calls for a line that allowed Pro Bowl running back Shaun Alexander to lead the NFC in rushing last season while reducing the number of times quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was sacked to 30 -- down from 42 in 2003.

Bannister, who will be 26 next month, was voted to the NFC Pro Bowl team in 2003 for his contributions on special teams, but he missed the final nine games last season after breaking his clavicle.

Tobeck will sign a two-year, $1.785 million contract today, a deal that includes a $250,000 signing bonus and base salaries of $765,000 and $770,000. Bannister also will sign a multiyear contract, but details were not available.

The Seahawks started the offseason with 16 potential unrestricted free agents, but the status of only two remains in question -- guard Chris Gray, who has drawn interest from the San Francisco 49ers; and defensive end Brandon Mitchell.

Also returning to the Seahawks were tight end Itula Mili, All-Pro left tackle Walter Jones, Hasselbeck and Womack. Alexander was given the franchise tag last month.

The club has lost four free agents to other teams -- defensive end Chike Okeafor and middle linebacker Orlando Huff (Cardinals), cornerback Ken Lucas (Panthers) and backup fullback Heath Evans (Dolphins).

P-I reporter Clare Farnsworth can be reached at 206-448-8016 or clarefarnsworth@seattlepi.com
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