Free-Agent Madness: Babineaux vs. Tice

Just when you thought the madness had ended, here we go again.

The response to the April Madness exercise to determine the best draft choice in franchise history was so overwhelming, Seahawks.com has decided to elicit your help again – this time to determine the club’s best undrafted free agent.

Not Steve Largent, who was obtained in a trade with the Houston Oilers. Not even Jim Zorn, who signed with the Seahawks after being released by the Dallas Cowboys. And definitely not any of the veteran players the Seahawks have signed as unrestricted free agents, like Julian Peterson and Patrick Kerney.

No, these are the players the Seahawks signed just after the draft – rookie free agents. The Seahawks have been very good to these players over the past 34 years, and vice versa.

So here goes. We’ve limited the field to nine players, with one play-in match:

First round

#1 April 26: DB Jordan Babineaux vs. TE Mike Tice (play-in matchup)

#2 April 27: QB Dave Krieg vs. Babineaux-Tice winner

#3 April 28: LB Rufus Porter vs. K Norm Johnson

#4 April 29: FB Mack Strong vs. DT Joe Nash

#5 April 30: QB Jon Kitna vs. FS Eugene Robinson

Semifinals

#6 May 1: Krieg/play-in winner vs. Porter-Johnson winner

#7 May 2: Strong-Nash winner vs. Kita-Robinson winner

Final

#8 May 3: semifinals winners

Today: Jordan Babineaux vs. Mike Tice

Mike Tice arrived at training camp in 1981 as an undrafted quarterback out of Maryland. That lasted only a few throws. Tice then moved to the back of the line in the tight end drills. But through hard work and dogged determination, Tice not only made the team he eventually started for five seasons (1982, 1986-88 and 1991).

He didn’t catch a lot of passes – 29 of his 92 receptions with the Seahawks came in 1988. But as fellow former tight end Pete Metzelaars once put it, “The tight end can go an entire season in Seattle and the only thing he’ll catch is a cold.” That’s because the positional priority in Chuck Knox’s “Ground Chuck” offense was blocking, blocking and then blocking some more. It was Tice’s job to seal the end or outside linebacker, and he did it well enough to play 10 seasons with the Seahawks.

Babineaux made the roster in 2004 out of Southern Arkansas, but not before spending the first 11 weeks on the practice squad. He then started games at cornerback and strong safety in 2005 (four) and 2006 (eight), while also making significant contributions on special teams and in the nickel and dime packages.

He earned his “Big Play Babs” nickname with a series of game-saving or game-altering plays, none bigger than his tackle of Cowboys QB/holder Tony Romo near the goal line to seal a victory over Dallas in a 2006 wild-card playoff game at Qwest Field – which was voted Play of the Decade by readers of Seahawks.com.

Last season, his first as a full-time starter, Babineaux posted his first 100-tackle season while playing free safety. This season, with the arrival of Texas free safety Earl Thomas in the first-round of the draft, Babineaux will slide to strong safety.

Tomorrow: Babineaux-Tice winner vs. Dave Krieg


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