In their attempt to extend the best period in the history of the franchise, the Seattle Seahawks are gambling on a young, cheap offensive line unit to protect Russell Wilson, and keep this offense clicking for another season.
The Seahawks have invested their cap space in Wilson, wide receivers and their defense. They had to after what brought them to the top in 2012 and 2013, winning the Super Bowl. Their surprising draft picks and cheap pick ups turned into some of the best players in the league in their positions, and that comes at a cost. The 14 most expensive players on the Seahawks heading into the new season aren’t offensive linemen.
Where does the O-line feature? J’Marcus Webb, the oldest in this group, signed a $5.7 million, two-year deal after a decent season with the Oakland Raiders, playing right guard. He’s 27, playing in the NFL since 2010. Germain Ifedi, 22, was the team’s first round pick in the 2016 draft, which means $8.2 million over four years, including $6.6 million in guaranteed money. Justin Britt, the center, has played left guard and right tackle for the Seahawks, entering his third season after getting picked in the 2nd round in 2014. His cap hit is only $942,000. Mark Glowinski was a 4th round pick in 2015 by the Seahawks, playing in nine games, starting in one. His cap hit is just $611,000. Gary Gilliam played a lot of right tackle last season. The 25-year old is entering his third season, and went undrafted into the NFL.
A lot of teams in the NFL have offensive linemen who cost more than this entire unit. The Seahawks o-line cap hit is ridiculously low, which has helped them keep everyone on offense and defense happy with relatively big contracts, especially Wilson. However, Kam Chancellor held out into the regular season last year. Michael Bennett keeps talking about being unhappy with the money he’s making. Marshawn Lynch, now retired, was never happy with his salary as well. Can the offensive line always be the unit that gets the lowest priority?
Every team approaches these things in a different manner. In Seattle, they see the guys protecting their most important player as replaceable, or confident enough that they can find good, cheap players all the time. None of their front line players from their Super Bowl are still on the team. Russell Okung is in Denver, James Carpenter is playing for the Jets, Max Unger is in New Orleans, J.R. Sweezy is in Tampa, and Breno Giacomini is playing for the Jets.
Last season, the Seahawks gave up 46 sacks, tied for sixth worst quarterback protection in the NFL. Only Aaron Rodgers and Blake Bortles were sacked more time than Wilson, master of escaping a pass rush, but even he has his limits. The Seahawks have turned into an offense that relies heavily, maybe too heavily, on his ability to not just throw the ball, but escape hits and take the punishment. That’s an approach that’s asking for trouble.
Their current projected starting O-line has two returning starters, one rookie, one starter on a different team and another player elevated from backup, not to mention switching positions. That can go in a lot of different ways, but no one on this group except for Ifedi seems like a potential menace for opposing pass rushes. If they manage to give Wilson enough time to make his magic happen, it’s fine. But too many, this unit looks like a disaster waiting to happen, with too much at stake, especially Wilson’s health, to feel confident about how they’ll preform in 2016.