There has been a great deal of talk about the big moves made by the Seattle Seahawks in free agency this offseason. Obviously, you have the blockbuster trade that brought Percy Harvin to Seattle and the big signings of defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, but how familiar are you with the new addition at tight end named Darren Fells?
If you’ve never heard of him before, don’t worry because he’s not exactly your typical NFL free agent.
Fells spent last season playing for a team called Libertad Sunchales in Argentina. If you were wondering if there is a professional (American) football league in Argentina, there isn’t and Fells wasn’t playing football.
This is because Fells was actually playing professional basketball last season, and hasn’t played football since he was in high school. At 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds, Fells combination of size and athleticism make him a very intriguing prospect, but can a basketball player make the switch to professional football?
While it seems like a huge transition, some of the best tight ends in the NFL were once basketball players in college who later decided to try their hand at football. The most well-known example of this is Tony Gonzalez of the Atlanta Falcons, who is considered by many to be the best tight end to ever play the game.
Gonzalez was an All-American tight end in his time at Cal and was drafted 13th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs, so his path to the NFL was very different from that of Darren Fells, but their backgrounds as two-sport athletes are very similar. Other big name tight ends who played basketball before making names for themselves in the NFL include future Hall-of-Famer Antonio Gates and All-Pro Jimmy Graham, whose story is most similar to that of Fells.
Fells is not completely without his share of experience in football, though. He was an all-state tight end in high school and his older brother, Daniel, is currently one of the many tight ends on the New England Patriots. He decided that he missed football so much that he enlisted the help of Daniel and his agent to set up visits with some teams and, eventually, a pro day to showcase his abilities. He was simply visiting with the Seahawks back in April before his Pro Day and, after working out for them, was signed to a three-year deal.
This seems like the quintessential Pete Carroll/John Schneider move. You take a chance on a guy who most other teams wouldn’t even give a chance. This team has been built around players like Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman who weren’t given the respect they deserved on draft day. Hopefully Darren Fells can become the latest in a long line of great stories on this Seattle Seahawks squad.