Kerry Hyder will be the first to tell you he’s had an unorthodox NFL career. After going undrafted in 2014 out of Texas Tech, Hyder didn’t get meaningful snaps until 2016. There have only been three seasons in which he’s received at least 400 snaps. In the two seasons he’s received 700 snaps, he’s posted at least 8.0 sacks.
That was the case in 2020 when he racked up a career-high 8.5 sacks for the 49ers. Now he’ll join the Seahawks, where he signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract in free agency.
“I’ve always been drawn to the organization,” Hyder told reporters on Thursday, referring to the positive culture so many players have referenced previously. “When I had the opportunity, I kind of jumped on it. I was excited that it was presented to me.”
Hyder was viewed as a “tweener” coming out of college, a moniker that is often the kiss of death for a defensive lineman’s draft stock. But for some, it turns into an opportunity to showcase versatility. That’s what Hyder has displayed throughout his career as someone who has excelled as a defensive end and as a defensive tackle.
He prides himself in that versatility, and while he anticipates playing predominantly off the edge, he’ll take whatever reps he can get.
“They’re going to try to use me the best they can – inside or outside,” Hyder said. “I’ve always been the defensive lineman where I get in where I fit in.”
Hyder said Michael Bennett’s name was brought up during negotiations as a model for what he could become in Seattle. Bennett was another “tweener” who went undrafted before flourishing into a three-time Pro Bowler and a Super Bowl Champion.
Hyder called Bennett his “idol” and noted that they played together in 2019 with the Cowboys.
“That’s a guy I’ve looked up to and modeled my game after,” Hyder said. “The characteristics are there. That’s who I watched – same body type and everything. That’s kind of why I was picturing myself in Seattle, because I can see myself in that same type of role as Mike.”
Hyder joins Carlos Dunlap, Benson Mayowa and Al Woods as notable free agent additions along the defensive line. L.J. Collier, Poona Ford, Alton Robinson, Darrell Taylor, Bryan Mone and Rasheem Green figure to round out the rotation.
“It’s an amazing group from top to bottom. You’ve got young guys; you’ve got older guys; you’ve got a great mixture of guys who can play inside and outside. I’m just super excited to see what I can add to the group,” Hyder said. “I just want to add my sauce to the group and see what I can bring.”
Hyder will be 30 in May, but he feels like his lack of consistent opportunity in the NFL means the Seahawks are getting a player with plenty of good football left in him. “I’ve got a lot of football left in me, that’s for sure,” Hyder said. “I had an unorthodox journey to the NFL, so I might not have the mileage that other guys have on their legs. … I know it may say 30 but these are some young legs right here.”