In “Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel” news, let’s *sigh* talk about left guard for a minute.
I could REALLY use some baseball games to bitch about right about now …
One of the things that I seem to have missed in the flurry of news that came out of John Schneider’s interview last week is that Mike Iupati might be the left guard incumbent, but he might not necessarily be the one expected to win the starting job in 2020.
So, here’s what we know: Iupati recently signed a 1-year deal to re-up with the Seahawks. There’s $1 million guaranteed – most of that is wrapped up in a signing bonus. Assuming he makes the team out of the pre-season, he’ll earn another $1 million. Then, there are weekly bonuses where – if he’s active for those games – he can earn up to another $500,000. So, it’s not a ton of money (and, obviously, if he gets injured before the season starts, or otherwise just doesn’t have it, it’s not a huge expense to eat), but it’s also not one of those zero-guarantee deals where the guy is more camp fodder than legitimate candidate to make the team.
In short, this strikes me as a real, true, honest competition.
While I think the team would PREFER for Haynes to win the job – and in any Tie Goes To The Runner situation, I think he’ll get the nod – you don’t essentially guarantee half a guy’s salary just to cut him before the season starts (I don’t believe, anyway). Haynes has only been in the league a year, and he wasn’t able to generate much in the way of playing time in 2019. So, it’s very reasonable to expect that he’d still be green and maybe not quite ready to assume such a major role on a team that’s expected to compete for a division title.
Iupati is as good of a hedge as the Seahawks can hope for, in this situation. He started for us last year, he’s been great throughout his career (when healthy). But, he’s also sort of on his last legs. If he blows Haynes away, there’s no question Iupati would reclaim his job. At this point, however, “blowing Haynes away” would mean that Haynes just isn’t very good. We know what Iupati is; he’s not going to miraculously take his game to another level. He’s what we’ll gladly settle for, because we know this offense will move just fine with him in there. The hope is: the offense will at least maintain last season’s level of efficiency with the younger, cheaper Haynes (so, when we get to 2021 and beyond, we can just pencil him in there and not have to worry about that spot for a while).
The Double Secret Probation hope, not for nothing, is that the offense is actually BETTER with Haynes, because let’s face it, there were times Iupati showed his age last year.
Regardless, I think Iupati sticks with the team in 2020, whether he wins the starting job or not. That being said, I don’t know if I’d be TOTALLY shocked if he’s among the healthy scratches in certain weeks, to try to save some dough. He’s a guy you wouldn’t mind as an insurance policy – especially since his presence alone could help a young player like Haynes through a trying first season as a starter – but as an emergency fill-in player on a weekly basis, you generally want linemen who can fill in at multiple spots. I don’t know if Iupati has a ton of experience anywhere but left guard, so asking him to fill in at center or right guard might be a bit of a stretch.
It also wouldn’t surprise me if he gets cut. ALL the options are on the table, you guys! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!