Seahawks Position Breakdown 2021: Offensive Line

This group strikes me as having the highest possible variance of any group on the team. If someone traveled back in time to now – from the season’s end – and told me the Seahawks will have a Top 5 O-Line, I’d believe them. If they told me the Seahawks will have a Bottom 5 O-Line, I’d believe them. I mean, they’ve mastered the technology of time travel, so why wouldn’t I believe them? But, you understand what I’m getting at.

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about the Duane Brown situation – which you can read about in the bottom half of this post – but the vast majority of that variance lies right here. For the Seahawks to have a good-to-great offensive line, Duane Brown needs to play every game in the regular season and continue playing at the level we’ve seen from him since he donned a Seahawks uniform. He’s special. He’s fucking huge and athletic and one of the best left tackles in football. He’s also getting up there in age, and that cliff is right around the corner. We won’t know he’s fallen off of it until that injury strikes, and when it does, I anticipate it’ll be devastating for all involved.

If Duane Brown holds out, or demands a trade, or suddenly retires, it’s going to be REALLY dark for this unit, this offense, and this team as a whole. The Seahawks just don’t have the depth – particularly at tackle – to overcome such a loss! That has to be a big reason why he’s holding out to begin with: he knows he has the Seahawks over a barrel! Brandon Shell is a right tackle, end of story there. He’s a fine right tackle, when healthy, but you’re not moving him to the other side of the line and getting anything close to competent play. There’s a lot to like about Jamarco Jones’ skillset; I think he does have the talent to play left tackle at this level. But, he’s proven throughout his career that he’s incapable of staying healthy. And, not for nothing, but he’s injured NOW! That’s a bad sign. Cedric Ogbuehi has already told the team he thinks he’s better suited to play right tackle rather than left; the team seems to think he’d be good enough on the left side, at least in a fill-in capacity. But, he too is currently injured and it’s unknown how long he’ll be out for.

That leaves rookie tackles Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan; one taken in the sixth round, the other an undrafted free agent. Are you ready to hand over the starting left tackle job – arguably the most important spot on the O-Line; we’ve all seen the movie – to a lottery ticket prospect?

I don’t want to shit all over the depth on this team, because there’s actually a lot to like about what we have on the O-Line. Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are quality starters in this league. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jamarco Jones are viable backups in this league, when healthy. I think Forsythe and Curhan are interesting projects that very well could develop into something solid in a year or two. But, when both of your primary backups are injured at the moment, and one of your starters is holding out, that’s a scary proposition!

It’s unfortunate, because there’s a lot to like about the interior. Damien Lewis returns and is being flopped over to left guard. He had a special rookie season last year, starting all his games at right guard. I don’t believe he has much – if any – experience on the left side, but it’s early enough in his NFL career that I’ll buy his ability to learn on the fly. Gabe Jackson is a veteran we brought in who’s proven as a capable right guard in this league. Considering how much we struggled in our interior protection – especially against Aaron Donald and the Rams, our main NFC West rival – this was our most critical upgrade of the offseason. To top it off, we return Ethan Pocic at center, and are having him compete with Kyle Fuller, Phil Haynes, and whoever else. So, the winner of that battle should be pretty well tested; there won’t be a question that man has earned his job.

The great thing is that everyone competing at center can also slide over and play guard in a pinch. On top of that, if Jordan Simmons can stay healthy, he’s flashed true greatness at the guard spot; much like Jamarco Jones, though, he just hasn’t proven he can remain on the field for more than a week or two.

If the Injury Gods are our friends this year, I think the offensive line can be rock solid for us. That’s going to be vital, since we’re breaking in a new offensive coordinator/play-caller. I don’t need Russell Wilson worried about his protection when he’s trying to parse where the ball is supposed to go in a vastly new system. I also don’t need this offense consistently behind the sticks because we can’t run the ball effectively when we want to run the ball. We all have enough to worry about with this offensive system, I’d rather not throw personnel into the mix of concerns.

The talent on this side of the ball, from quarterback on down, is good enough to compete for an NFL championship. But, that won’t matter if we’re saddled with scrubs along the offensive line. We’ve seen that movie TOO MANY TIMES in Russell Wilson’s tenure here.

My grade for this unit probably tops out at an A-, but it can fall all the way down to an F+ if we’re unlucky. Let’s just hope the Duane Brown situation doesn’t go nuclear, because I don’t think anyone’s going to be happy with the results.

The Seahawks Don’t Seem To Give A Shit About The 2021 NFL Draft

Get ready, in the coming days – if it hasn’t been written about ad nauseam already – to read about how the Seahawks used their first and third round picks to bring in Jamal Adams, and about how their fifth rounder was used to bring in highly-touted offensive guard Gabe Jackson, and how their sixth rounder was used to move back into the 2020 draft to select Stephen Sullivan (who is no longer with the team … oops!), and I guess one of their seventh round picks was used to help bring in Carlos Dunlap (forgetting that he was mostly a money dump for the Bengals who wasn’t going to play much for them anyway).

If you look at all of THAAAAAT, then the 2021 Seahawks draft looks pretty good, right gang?! Anyone who’s anyone would gladly take three high-quality starters out of any draft, and that doesn’t even factor in the potential of the guys the Seahawks, you know, actually draft!

Yawn.

Snort.

Spit.

The Seahawks currently sit with three draft picks as a result: 2nd round (56), 4th round (129), and 7th round (250). It’s a good thing we don’t have any long-term holes we need to fill, right?! Oh, wait.

You can’t talk about a Seahawks draft without mentioning that we’re most likely destined to trade back to acquire more picks. Even in a normal year, that’s always the modus operandi; six picks magically become 11, without any rhyme or reason. Of course, usually we have a low first rounder to dangle to teams in the upper second round (being able to control a player for a fifth year is a pretty nice carrot to offer), and this time we don’t, so we’ll see how it goes.

You also can’t talk about a Seahawks draft without mentioning that they usually select someone you wouldn’t suspect, at least with their first choice. I liked this blog post about how reading Seahawks mock drafts by national experts are a waste of time. It’s so fucking true. I mean, I would argue (and that post astutely points out) that mock drafts are a waste of time period, but this is the Internet; what is it if not a giant time-suck?

What’s great about this year is that I get to skip Thursday night entirely, so I don’t have to pretend I give a shit about a bunch of college players I don’t remember and hardly ever watched. I might tune in to watch the first hour or so, to stay informed on where some of the quarterbacks go. But, my point is, it’s not necessarily appointment viewing, and not necessarily something I have to endure to the bitter end.

That brings us to Friday, where I … can easily skip the first hour or so! The Seahawks don’t pick until close to the END of the second round. So, I can take an afternoon nap, make an involved dinner, finish my newspaper, and still have time to see the Seahawks trade down.

I mean, if the Seahawks don’t care about the NFL Draft, why should I?

What do we need? I have no idea. An offensive lineman, probably. Center? That might not be a bad idea; see if one of the better centers is available? Cornerback depth is probably a good idea. Maybe a strong-side linebacker. Maybe another running back to throw on the pile. Maybe a tight end. I dunno, there are lots of ways the Seahawks could go. They could draft a huge, run-stuffing defensive tackle for all I know!

Someone on the Mitch Unfiltered podcast said that while it’s almost a given that the Seahawks trade down with their second round pick, they shouldn’t trade down too far. I wholeheartedly agree. The lower you go, the less likely you’re going to find an impact guy who can contribute right away. 56, or thereabouts, feels like the limit to me. Honestly, I wouldn’t even care if we didn’t trade down EVER in this draft. And I CERTAINLY don’t want to see them continue to rob from future drafts to select guys in the current draft (especially if they’re only going to waive these players anyway).

This needs to be the year where everyone puts on their Big Boy Recruiting Pants and campaigns like hell for all the undrafted guys that are out there. Since no one attended games, and since there wasn’t a real combine, there are probably a lot of quality players that are going to fall through the cracks. That’s where our front office needs to do what they do best, and find those diamonds in the rough. Take advantage of a weird time in league history and discover undervalued assets.

I don’t have a gameplan or a wishlist for the Seahawks. I suppose what I said above: a center, a cornerback, and maybe a tight end would be appropriate. But, they’re going to take whoever they want to take, and it’s our job to find a way to get on board.

The Seahawks Extended Jackson and Lockett

With all the Mariners stuff starting up last week, I’ve been sitting on this one until I needed it, so here it is: a brief rundown of recent contract extensions!

Teams have to do a lot of creative bookkeeping with the salary cap this year, to try to get better while at the same time staying under the max set by the league. Teams with Top 5 quarterbacks have to get particularly creative to make this work, which is the boat the Seahawks are currently sailing on.

We recently traded for Gabe Jackson, offensive guard from the Las Vegas Raiders. He had 2 years remaining on his deal, but at a relatively high cap number, while at the same time not guaranteed whatsoever. So, there’s a little give and take in his 3-year, $22.75 million deal. He gets $16 million guaranteed – including $9 million via the signing bonus – and the Seahawks get a little cap relief in 2021, while at the same time setting themselves up to lock in a quality guard for at least the next three years (his deal we obtained in the trade was essentially torn up and replaced with this one). Win/win for everyone, I love it!

We followed up this brilliant move with another one: extending Tyler Lockett an additional four years, at $69.2 million, with $37 million guaranteed. Lockett was going to be a free agent at the end of 2021, but instead is signed through 2025, when he will be only 33 years old. There’s no sense that he’ll be slowing down anytime soon, so I love this deal! Keep him and D.K. Metcalf side-by-side as long as possible!

I don’t know (yet) what this does to provide cap relief in the short term, but from a long-term standpoint this is a no-brainer. This is the second time the Seahawks have extended Lockett early, and both times it’s been the perfect move for this team.

It’s always important to lock up your best guys. We already knew that Lockett was one of the best receivers in the league, but it’s comforting to see the team have this kind of confidence in Gabe Jackson. The interior of the offensive line is something I’ve harped on for years with the Seahawks. There are too many quality defensive tackles – particularly in our division – and we have always been in desperate need to beef up this part of our team to protect Russell Wilson. He’s elite at extending plays with his legs – even if he’s lost a step compared to where he was five years ago – but the closest distance between any two points is a straight line. And there’s no line closer than the one between Russell Wilson and wherever Aaron Donald lines up.

The Seahawks Made A Lot Of Smallish Deals While I Was On Vacation

All right, let’s run through the list, because I got a lot to do today.

  • Nick Bellore (FB) signed a 2-year, $4.45 million deal that’s probably just a smallish 1-year deal with no guarantees in year two, to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Chris Carson (RB) signed a 2-year, $10.425 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden (only 2021 is guaranteed)
  • Ethan Pocic (C) signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with a void-year tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Benson Mayowa (DE) signed a 2-year, $8 million (approx.) deal with two void-years tacked on to spread out the salary cap burden
  • Kerry Hyder (DE) signed a 3-year, $16.5 million deal
  • Jordan Simmons (OG) signed a small 1-year deal
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (OT) signed a 1-year deal

Okay, that’s all I know about right now. In addition, David Moore signed a 2-year deal with the Panthers; he was solid, I’m sure we all wish him well. He greatly outperformed his 7th round draft status.

The Seahawks had one of the best Special Teams units in 2020, and Nick Bellore was a major reason why, so it’s great to have him around covering kickoffs and punts. He doesn’t do much as a fullback, and I don’t expect that to change.

Chris Carson, I will admit, is a bit of a surprise to me. I don’t know if this changes the Seahawks’ needs to go out and find a long-term replacement, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. That means we essentially have the same running back room as 2020, minus Carlos Hyde (but, hopefully, with a full season of Rashaad Penny). I don’t think anyone was excited about Penny as this team’s lead back, but obviously we all know the risks with Carson and his injury-prone style of play. He’s elite when he’s healthy, and it’s a continual struggle to keep him healthy. The money isn’t terrible though. There’s an out after 2021, or if he stays healthy and kills it, we have him at a reasonable number for 2022.

Ethan Pocic is an okay center. The Seahawks have had a run of okay centers for a while now. My hope is that either we look to solidify this position with one of our few draft picks, or the addition of Gabe Jackson on the left side, with the continued emergence of Damien Lewis on the right side, will mitigate Pocic’s limitations.

Love having Benson Mayowa back! Great deal for a solid player! When he was healthy last year, he really wreaked havoc, and I don’t see him as one of those injury-prone type of guys, so there’s no reason why he couldn’t bounce back to play a full 16-game season. Locked in at two years for such a low number is incredible if he reaches his full potential!

I’ll skip over the real prize of this haul and talk about Jordan Simmons. He was let go, as opposed to being tendered, and is back at a presumably-lower salary figure. He’s a depth piece, and it’s always important to have depth. I thought he played pretty well when he had to fill in for Mike Iupati, so this feels like a no-brainer.

Same thing with Ogbuehi. He struggled at first in filling in for Brandon Shell, but I thought he came on towards the end of the season. I hope to Christ that right tackle isn’t a revolving door again this year, otherwise the Seahawks are going to have to get their asses in gear for 2022. The rest of the defensive lines in the NFC West aren’t getting any WORSE, I can tell you that much!

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let’s talk about Kerry Hyder.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know this man. They say he was on the 49ers last year and had 8.5 sacks, but that all flew well below my radar. He will be 30 years old this year and some have compared him to a Michael Bennett type (boy do I loathe hearing that comp after years of the Seahawks trying to draft guys to fit that mold).

It doesn’t look like Hyder has done a TON in his career. He had 8.0 sacks with the Lions in 2016, otherwise he has 2.0 sacks combined in his other four years. But, people are saying this is a great signing for the Seahawks, so I’m willing to listen to them. They’re the experts, I’m some jagweed sitting at a laptop, writing on a blog no one reads.

I think we’re all a little concerned that this means the Seahawks aren’t bringing back Carlos Dunlap. I read somewhere that the Seahawks are technically OVER the cap already, and will need to make some moves to get back down under it. But, I also read that the signing of Hyder doesn’t necessarily preclude the Seahawks from also going out and getting Dunlap, as they play different defensive end spots. I don’t know if any of this is true, I haven’t done the research; I’m still mostly on vacation-mode.

With it appearing that Bruce Irvin won’t be coming back, and the salary cap what it is, this COULD be it for the major moves. How do we feel about essentially the same D-Line as last year, with Hyder in for Dunlap? Well, that puts Mayowa back in a role where he’s more of an every-down lineman, which he did notably struggle with early in the season. He blossomed when his snap counts went down and he was free to get after the quarterback at a higher rate.

It would be FUCKING AMAZING if we could also get Dunlap back in the fold, but that’s looking mighty grim, all things considered. We also have to extend Jamal Adams, after all. Maybe this is a good sign for Alton Robinson, or Darrell Taylor? We’ll see, I guess.

It’s still early, so obviously there’s a lot to go down between now and the start of the regular season.

The Seahawks Signed Gerald Everett & Traded For Gabe Jackson

Today’s my birthday and I’m flying to Las Vegas later this morning, so we’re keeping this short and sweet.

Yes, the Seahawks were in need of a tight end, with the retirement of the waste of $7 million that is Greg Olsen and the impending free agency of Jacob Hollister. No, I do not have a high regard for the tight end position in our offense, and don’t think we should be putting our limited resources to overpaying for veterans.

Nevertheless, welcome Gerald Everett. 1 year, worth up to … $7 million (with $6 million guaranteed).

He was underwhelming as a member of the Rams, but nevertheless this makes sense as a signing, since he was a free agent, and we just hired our offensive coordinator from that organization. Of course Shane Waldron wants at least ONE player who’s familiar with the scheme he’s planning to run. Everett, in his four years in the league, has never had a season with more than 41 receptions (2020) or over 417 yards (also 2020). Was that due to Jared Goff & Co. not taking advantage of Everett’s skillset? Was that due to their wide receivers being elite and hogging all the targets? Or … was that due to scheme, and this particular style of offense doesn’t feature the tight end the way you’d expect as a team signing a guy for $7 million?

If it’s the scheme, and the Seahawks are going to run that scheme, then I think that’s a problem. If it’s because of there being elite receivers on offense … I mean, what do you call D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett? Finally, it strikes me that if Everett had this great skillset, he would command more in free agency than 1 year and $7 million. Shit, the New England Patriots just signed TWO free agent tight ends to big money contracts, and that’s after drafting two tight ends the year before!

I’m not getting my hopes up. Thankfully, Everett is young and doesn’t appear to have had any significant injuries, so unlike – say – Ed Dickson, or again, Greg Olsen, it’s reasonable to expect Everett to play a full 16-game slate.

The move I like is trading for Gabe Jackson! The Seahawks needed a new STARTING left guard, and it looks like they have a good one.

Are you like me? Are you sick of watching the Seahawks continuing to dumpster dive the interior of the offensive line? Well, fret no longer! Jackson appears to be reliable at keeping guys off the quarterback, which is precisely what Russell Wilson has been clamoring for all offseason. He’s also notoriously healthy, which is big, since the Seahawks have employed a revolving door at left guard the last … forever? I have no idea; time is nonexistent.

He’s locked in for the next two seasons, and this will only be his eighth year in the league. So, he’s a veteran, he knows how to handle himself in the league, and something freaky would have to happen injurywise for him to miss time. So, look out for that, because “something freaky” seems to follow the Seahawks around like a storm cloud.

All he cost the Seahawks was a 5th round pick in 2021. Considering it seems like the Seahawks are prepared to punt this draft entirely – now with only three picks remaining, none earlier than late in the second round – I’ll take a starter at guard for a 5th round pick in a draft where scouts can’t really do a ton of scouting.

On the plus side, I’m expecting the Seahawks to work overtime on the undrafted players this year. Maybe – with all teams at a similar disadvantage in scouting – we can use our smarts and ability to recruit guys to our advantage in getting the best undrafted players to sign with us!