Nothing Is More Important To The Long-Term Greatness Of The Seahawks Than The Offensive Line

I’m pretty excited about the possibilities of where this defense is headed. As I noted before, I think there can be some immediate and impactful developments with the new coaching staff and a few player additions. Am I still worried about the defense? Of course. But, if I had to rank the units I’m most worried about, the defense wouldn’t be at the top.

If you asked the fans, they’d probably be the most confident in the wide receiver room, followed by the running backs. We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money pumping up our skill position guys; they should be fine.

I also think, if you polled the fans, they’d probably have Starting Quarterback as their biggest concern, for good reason. Backup Quarterback? We’re solid. But, the worry here is the fact that we’ve got two very good-to-elite backup quarterbacks, but neither are good-to-elite starters.

As we always talk about, though, there are ways around this problem. You can get by with a Just Okay quarterback, if you’ve got the kind of elite talent everywhere else to make up for it (especially the offensive and defensive lines). Look at the 49ers last year. Granted, they ran into the buzzsaw that is Patrick Mahomes, but the 49ers gave the Chiefs everything they could handle.

If the Seahawks can replicate on defense what the Ravens were able to do under Mike Macdonald, I don’t see any reason to doubt his abilities in whipping that side of the ball into shape. And, with our lack of an elite passer holding us back, that means there’s only one area of concern we have to get right, if we’re ever going to be a serious contender for the Super Bowl in the next five years.

The offensive line is the single most important unit on this team. If we can’t do better than what we’ve done from 2015-2023, we’re never going to go anywhere. BUT, if there’s a way for the Seahawks to build a young, impressive O-Line and keep them together for a few years in a row? Then I would say the sky is the limit for this team.

The offensive line is what makes the team go. In that sense, I’m right there with Jim Harbaugh in his line of thinking. Offensive linemen ARE skill position guys. So, what are we looking at for 2024?

Assuming health is not an issue, we’re going to roll with our bookend tackles of Charles Cross and Abe Lucas. Cross, I would say, has been good-not-great. He’s never showing up on PFF lists or talked about like some of the other elite left tackles in the league, and I would say that’s a problem. We took him 9th overall, that guy NEEDS to be talked about in the same breath as the game’s best. This will be his third year in the league, so it’s now or never. Because going forward, he’ll be looking for his second contract. The best of the best get that taken care of before they hit their fourth season. If we have to go into next year not knowing if he’s even worth the fifth year option, I’m going to be extremely upset.

As for Lucas, obviously he missed most of last year with a chronic knee injury. By all accounts, he’ll be ready for training camp, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Based on what the Seahawks did in the draft and free agency, I think they feel the same way.

As veteran insurance, we have George Fant (newly signed to a 2-year deal) and Stone Forsythe (entering into the final season of his rookie contract). Fant is obviously a known quantity, and a very good backup plan for either tackle spot, should the injury bug hit. Forsythe, I think, played better than expected last year. But, he also seemed to be overwhelmed at times, and the team definitely sped up the offense to take some of the strain off of this line. Was that more because of Forsythe’s ineptitude? Or the interior linemen replacements? Or a combination? My guess is that Forsythe will enter training camp as this team’s fourth (and final) tackle, but will need to work his ass off to keep his job, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see him cut at the end of the pre-season.

As younger insurance, we have two sixth round draft picks in Sataoa Laumea and Michael Jerrell. We’ve also got a couple of practice squad-ish type guys we signed to battle it out this year, but obviously I’m more interested in the rookies. I don’t think BOTH of the rookies will make the team out of camp, but one certainly might. Laumea obviously has a lot of fans out there among the amateur scouts who did their research on this draft class. Of course, there’s always a chance that he slides inside and competes for guard, which a lot of people think will be his destiny. As for Jerrell, he’s as big of an unknown as it gets. So, given that, maybe we shouldn’t quite discount his chances. After all, he chose to go to a smaller school and stay there, rather than move up in the college ranks. He might actually be great! We don’t know.

With the guards and center spots, it looks like an absolute free-for-all. Laken Tomlinson is the only veteran of the bunch, but he’s here on a cheap one-year deal, and he’s never really been a star in this league. The Jets signed him to some reasonably-big money in 2022, but he obviously didn’t make it to the end of that 3-year deal, so how good could he be?

The obvious starter in the interior is third round draft pick Christian Haynes, but at this point, we don’t know where that’s going to be. I think someone said he was a right guard in college, but that he’s smart and talented enough to play on the left side. Someone on the radio even suggested he might be converted to play center, so who the hell knows? Tomlinson, apparently, is a left guard, but again, he has no guarantees.

There’s also a holdover in Anthony Bradford, who got some play as a rookie last year. Clearly, he didn’t impress enough to win himself a job with that effort, but he’ll obviously be in the mix. I hope, for his sake, that he put in a ton of work this offseason, as there likely won’t be a more important period in his professional life.

An interesting name – aside from some of the other practice squad pick-ups we’ve got as likely camp fodder – is Tremayne Anchrum, who has been with the Rams the last few years. He was by no means a regular for them, but does have some experience, which could at least give him a leg-up as a backup.

Then, that takes us to the center spot, which looks like a two-man race at the moment. We’ve got holdover Olu Oluwatimi (a rookie last year, who also got some playing time taking over for injured guys) and newly signed Nick Harris (a former Husky who has spent most of his professional career on injured reserve with the Browns). I would think this is Olu’s job to lose, but again, the whispers of Haynes sliding over and joining that competition are pretty interesting. I don’t think that happens unless Olu looks bad, or if we’re just so strong at guard, we don’t necessarily NEED Haynes there. Regardless, I see Haynes as a starter for this team for the next 4 years.

Everyone else? Your guess is as good as mine. Ideally Cross will take the next step and be worthy of a big money left tackle contract, that crosses off two spots on the line. Even if Lucas manages to play through his knee all year, I have serious doubts about him sticking around for a second contract. Right tackle is going to need to be addressed (if it hasn’t already with one of these young guys we snagged).

My hope is, with Ryan Grubb’s scheme, and Scott Huff coaching them up, our neverending O-Line woes will finally be part of the past. But, they need to get this figured out in a hurry. Because I don’t want to be sitting here five years from now lamenting the fact that our offensive line is STILL the God damn worst.

The Seahawks Have Been Very Seahawky In Free Agency

There was a great post on Formerly Twitter this week that had something to do with the top 10 or whatever free agent signings of 2022. There were precious few (maybe only 1?) that are still with the team they signed with AND haven’t taken a pay cut. That’s … two seasons. And already, most of them have moved on.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily par for the course, or an outlier, but I would venture to say it’s closer to the former than the latter. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say free agents – by and large – are busts, I will say they are – by and large – not worth the money they receive. We all know why; this isn’t our first rodeo: you’re paying for past production.

That isn’t to say there aren’t diamonds in the rough here and there. Some of my best friends are free agents! Where would the Seahawks have been without Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril? Where would the Saints have been without Drew Brees, or the Broncos without Peyton Manning? Every once in a while, they exceed expectations, but more often than not, they disappoint.

It’s not even remotely a hot take to say that teams are best served building through the draft. It’s also not even remotely a hot take to say that teams will always prioritize re-signing their very best players. Regardless of how good they end up becoming, free agents who actually make it to market are always deemed to be expendable for one reason or another. Maybe that reason is due to chronic mismanagement by the team letting them walk, and they simply can’t afford to hang onto a guy they would otherwise prefer to keep.

Or maybe those free agents are flawed in some way, and their former teams understand those players aren’t worth what they’re destined to command after a bidding war.

I like the fact that the Seahawks generally stay out of the big-spending free agency fray. That being said, I also understand the fan angst, especially THIS year.

We’re not overburdened with draft picks, for starters. Now, maybe that means we’re looking to trade down a bunch of times; wouldn’t shock me in the slightest. But, there are a lot of open roster spots on this team, and we can’t fill them all via the draft. If we don’t start making some free agent moves eventually, then we’ll have to back-fill via any undrafted free agents coming out of college, or other cast-offs literally nobody else wants.

But, honestly? I don’t have a big problem with what the Seahawks have been doing. Like, I don’t have a problem with saying goodbye to everyone from our 2020 draft class except for Darrell Taylor. If they’re not worth the second contract, then don’t force it just because you drafted them. Sometimes, guys don’t pan out. Sometimes, other players are going to be better fits. Especially when you’ve got a brand new coaching staff and a brand new offensive and defensive scheme.

The latest signings seem to be more of that line of thinking. They’re all kinda fringey.

We signed a second tight end, Pharaoh Brown, to a 1-year, $4 million deal. He hasn’t done a whole lot since being an undrafted free agent in 2017, but he’s very tall and allegedly more of a pass catcher than a blocker. So, really, he’s Colby Parkinson, only a lot cheaper.

Then, we went out and got ex-Husky center Nick Harris for a year and two and a half million. He gives us competition at all of the interior line spots, for cheaper than an Evan Brown type (which means that if we want to go young across the O-Line, we can do that, as Harris is by no means guaranteed a starting spot).

Then, we brought back Artie Burns. Great! He was a valuable contributor last year to our secondary and provides much-needed depth. We also tendered RFAs Michael Jackson and Jon Rhattigan (with Jackson being an original-round tender, meaning if he signs elsewhere, we get an additional 5th round pick). I’m all for it, more solid depth pieces.

Maybe the biggest news of the last day or so was the re-signing of Darrell Taylor. We could’ve gone to the trouble of also tendering him, but given how productive he’s been as a pass rusher the last three seasons (21.5 sacks), it’s fair to wonder if we would’ve lost him. We don’t know what this deal looks like, so I’ll just say it’s nice to have him back. Obviously, he’s got some flaws to his game – in his utter inability to set an edge or stop the run – but the way he flashes to the quarterback isn’t ordinary. You’re not finding that in any ol’ free agent pass rusher.

The Seahawks resumed adding outside players by picking up Rayshawn Jenkins on a 2-year, $12 million deal. He was a cap casualty by the Jags, but he was also extremely productive in limiting receptions. A defensive backfield with Jenkins and Julian Love should be just as great – if not moreso – than the one we had with Diggs and Adams, for considerably cheaper.

The final big move (so far) was bringing back George Fant, on what’s reportedly a 2-year deal worth up to $14 million. As has been noted, this is more than just offensive tackle insurance. This appears to speak to the delicate nature of Abe Lucas’ chronic knee condition. I think it’s fair to wonder: is he going in for surgery that’s going to cost him the 2024 season? Is he going to be a frequent inactive due to health issues? That’s a tremendous shame, as he looked like a unique talent and value as a 2022 third round draft pick. Regardless, the odds of Lucas seeing a second contract with the Seahawks seems pretty slim at the moment.

Finally, in outgoing player news, Bobby Wagner signed a 1-year deal with Dan Quinn in Washington for $8.5 million. That’s certainly more than I’d want to spend on a run-stuffing middle linebacker who can’t cover anyone in space. Also, among the RFA players NOT tendered was Jake Curhan, who has been dealing with injury issues of his own throughout his young career. Can’t be saddled with too many offensive linemen who can’t stay upright; best to move on.

I still think there’s potential for one more splash signing at some point, though obviously the best of the best free agents are already off the board. So, we’ll see.