Linebacker David Hawthorne, the Seattle Seahawks' leading tackler for the past three seasons, has signed a contract with the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks announced Tuesday.
Hawthorne, 26, who became a free agent this year, signed a five-year deal with the Saints.
The Seahawks said they tried to re-sign Hawthorne before the free-agency period began March 13 and then again after he had visited the Saints, but the sides could not agree on a deal.
He registered more than 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons, including a career-high 116 in 2009 and 115 last season.
The Seahawks said the team's options for replacing Hawthorne include moving K.J. Wright into the middle after he started 11 games in the strong-side linebacking spot as a rookie last season, signing a middle linebacker in free agency, or drafting a linebacker in the NFL draft later this month.
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