As expected, the Seahawks made a couple of cost-saving cuts to the offensive line. Expected because the Seahawks needed the extra money to put towards other needs, and because they ended up signing a million offensive linemen over the last few months!
This helps to bring things into a little more clarity. As I alluded to yesterday, dropping Fluker not only frees up approximately three and a half million dollars from our salary cap, but clears the way for rookie right guard Damien Lewis to step in and immediately lock down an important spot on the O-Line. They’re all important, but I would argue given our quarterback – and the division we play in – guards arguably hold more importance on this team and how it wants to perform offensively. Russell Wilson needs space in front of him to be able to function at peak capacity; if the tackles suck, he can always run around them to find open spaces, but if the guards suck, giant, angry assholes will swallow him whole!
Of course, nothing will be handed to a rookie, but it would make a lot of sense to give Lewis every opportunity, when you consider his low salary point, as well as the fact that so many of our offensive linemen are on short-term deals. It would be nice to have one of the five spots set in place for the next four years.
There’s only one guarantee at this point in the league year: Duane Brown will remain our Pro Bowl left tackle for at least 2020, if not also 2021. From there, we’ve got competition across the board.
Mike Iupati figures to be the leader in the clubhouse for the starting left guard spot. He was our starter last year, he’s being fairly well-compensated on another one-year deal, and he has a history with our offensive line coach and in this league as a reliable presence. When you factor in how the Seahawks will likely have someone new playing center in 2020, it would be nice to have some stability in place to help him out with line calls and whatnot. Iupati’s biggest competitor figures to be Phil Haynes, who was a rookie last year that the team likes an awful lot. Haynes obviously isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m not AS bothered with Iupati sticking around; but it would be nice to be able to hand a second O-Line spot to a young up-and-comer. On that end, Iupati is old, and not likely to play a full 16-game season, so figure Haynes – if he can stay healthy – should get some more experience regardless.
Newcomer B.J. Finney looks like he’ll get the nod at center. He signed a 2-year deal for pretty significant money, and is coming off of a quality year with the Steelers last year. Joey Hunt – who took over for Britt last year – will give him all he can handle in the competition, but the fact that the Seahawks can save a little over $2 million by cutting him surely will play a factor in the decision here. I can’t imagine the team being comfortable with a no-name for a backup at center, so if Pocic doesn’t step up and prove he can handle the position (and more importantly, actually stay healthy), we might be stuck with Hunt regardless. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but obviously you’d like to allocate those dollars along the defensive line if possible.
Factoring in the competition for right guard, Lewis will have to tangle with a lot of holdovers. Phil Haynes, Jordan Roos, Jordan Simmons (among others), as well as newcomer Chance Warmack (another of those one-year deal guys, who is coming off of a year away from the game to get healthy, but comes with a high pedigree and a lot of experience in the league). My hunch is Lewis will win the starting job, but Warmack will stick around regardless as a veteran backup. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Haynes continue to get work at center just in case; he would figure to be the next-man-up in any interior offensive line injury situation.
Finally, at right tackle, Brandon Shell is the presumptive starter, as he too signed a pretty lucrative contract this offseason. Jamarco Jones will continue to compete here, but he’s had injury issues of his own that have hampered him in his young career. Newcomer Cedric Ogbuehi will also factor in the running, but he strikes me as more of an insurance backup than anything else, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him get cut if he struggles (and if the youngsters manage to stay healthy and look good).
Here’s my hunch for what the Seahawks’ offensive line looks like in 2020:
- LT – Duane Brown
- LG – Mike Iupati
- C – B.J. Finney
- RG – Damien Lewis
- RT – Brandon Shell
And here are five backups I’m predicting will make the cut:
- Phil Haynes
- Chance Warmack
- Jamarco Jones
- Joey Hunt
- Jordan Simmons
I wonder how close I’ll be! I wonder if I’ll ever remember to come back to this and find out!
I doubt I will!