Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks

Luke Willson got a call from his agent Tuesday afternoon during an Uber ride to San Francisco International Airport. Willson, who’d been cut at the end of August by the Oakland Raiders, was on his way to work out for a fourth NFL team.

His first three workouts went well, according to Willson, but not well enough to earn a contract. The veteran tight end had never been cut before, and the merry-go-round of trying to find work was mentally taxing. Willson said a few teams hit him with a “pump fake,” which only made the process more frustrating.

“It was definitely not an enjoyable time,” Willson said. “Let’s put it that way, not enjoyable.”

But this call struck a different set of cords. His agent notified him that Seattle was interested in bringing him back. The Seahawks had a deal in place to send Nick Vannett to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They wanted Willson to fill that void at tight end.

Willson was about to board his flight to the unnamed destination when his agent confirmed that he needed to switch terminals and hop on a plane to Seattle instead. He signed with the Seahawks Tuesday night.

“With the change that happened,” Carroll said referring to the trade, “how fortunate could we be to get a guy that we love and knows our program. Just a lifeblood, energy guy in the program as well and a really good ball player. We made a switch. We got a chance to get Luke back in it. We’re fortunate there.”

 

Seattle drafted Willson in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He caught 89 passes for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns during his five-year tenure with the Seahawks. Willson played for the Detroit Lions in 2018 before signing with the Raiders this offseason.

He remains a fan favorite for his affable, doesn’t-take-himself-too-seriously personality and for spearheading the Techno Thursday movement within the Seahawks locker room.

Willson, in between several humorous moments during his presser on Wednesday, made it clear that Seattle still feels like his home in the NFL.

“It’s kind of a family here,” Willson said. “That’s not how my experience has been everywhere else. Going in here today, and just the general energy of the team and the guys, it’s probably one of the main reasons why; when I was here – and I know they’re still doing this- we just seem to be able to win games late because there’s just a general sense of guys caring for one another.

“Wanting to do well for not just themselves but everybody in the building. Everybody that has a piece in this organization that helps us perform, and I don’t think that’s the same everywhere, at least in my experience.”

Following the Vannett trade, the immediate thought was that Seattle would promote Jacob Hollister from the practice squad to fill the hole on the roster. Carroll explained that, in addition to his history in Seattle and knowledge of “the program,” Willson brings with him a comparable skill set to Vannett’s.

“We didn’t want to skip a beat if we thought we were going to do something,” Carroll said. “We thought this would be a way to do that. We’re not changing anything in what we do by this move. Jacob’s got really good stuff and we like him and all that. His time is coming.”

The honeymoon phase is limited during an NFL regular season. Willson’s return to Seattle is a feel good story for now, but he knows he’ll need to perform in order to stick around.

“I’ve got a lot to prove now, to everybody in this building, and in the league,” he said. “I’ve got an opportunity, so that’s really all that I can ask for.”