Fisher will replace Okeafor

Updated: March 16, 2005, 9:42 AM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

Defensive end Bryce Fisher, an emerging young pass rusher who led the St. Louis Rams in sacks last season, on Tuesday evening reached a contract agreement with the Seattle Seahawks, ESPN.com confirmed.

The addition of Fisher is key for the Seahawks, who lost their best upfield pass rusher, Chike Okeafor, to the Arizona Cardinals last week as an unrestricted free agent. Fisher is a player who is similar in style and physical dimensions to Okeafor but is a year younger and cost significantly less to acquire.

Fisher, 27, will sign a four-year, $10 million contract. Okeafor signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Cardinals. Also, Fisher has less mileage on him, since he didn't begin his career until 2001, after the former Air Force Academy star completed his military commitment.

The Buffalo Bills, who chose Fisher in the seventh round of the 1999 draft, were patient in waiting for him. Unfortunately, after waiting two years for Fisher to be cleared to play in the NFL, the Bills were finished being patient and released him after only one season.

St. Louis claimed Fisher on waivers in 2002, and he has demonstrated progress every season. He started just one game in his first two seasons with the Rams but made a big leap in 2004. Starting in 14 games and playing in all 16 contests, Fisher registered 77 tackles, 8 sacks and two forced fumbles.

Entering the season, Fisher had only 49 career tackles and had posted just five sacks.

But the 6-feet-3, 272-pounder added some counter moves to go along with his speed, toughened up against the run and blossomed as a solid two-way defender. The Rams did not make much of an attempt to retain Fisher and, having decided that second-year veteran Anthony Hargrove will join Leonard Little as a starting end, viewed him as a rotational player.

The Seahawks, though, desperate for an outside pass rusher, regard Fisher as an excellent replacement for the departed Okeafor.

The move to Seattle represents a homecoming for Fisher, who visited with Seahawks officials last week and was disappointed when the team did not immediately make a contract offer. The native of Renton, Wash., played at Seattle Prep High School and still has relatives in the area.

Fisher becomes the second former Rams defensive end in two years to join the Seahawks, as Seattle signed Grant Wistrom as an unrestricted free agent last spring.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here Insider.