Well, sometimes you hate being right, but for fans who have been counting their linemen before they sign--this one ended up a turkey. Kris Dielman has resigned with the San Diego Chargers.
So the negatives here are obvious. Seattle will not be able to reconstruct their once elite offensive line through free agency. Derrick Dockery is a Bill and Eric Steinbach--well I never gave a damn about Steinbach. Dielman was the closest player to Steve Hutchinson on the market, I thought Dockery was a better overall talent, but it's arguable that Dielman was the better fit. Looking into next year, this certainly hurts Seattle's Super Bowl chances. The Hawks now have plenty of opportunities to sign a bunch of middle class duds, like Patrick Kerney. This will also probably prevent Sims from moving to right guard, a position better in line with his skills. Losing Dielman also makes for another draft need and lest we ever forget, the Hawks have no first round pick.
Ok, but this isn't the end of the world. While the offensive line is important, the money being thrown at guards is of questionable wisdom. The drop-off in talent between an elite guard and just a very good guard is nowhere near as steep as that found at tackle. Guards are more fungible, Dockery was a third round pick and Dielman was an NRI. Seattle will be making a push for 29 y/o Bronco right guard Cooper Carlisle. Carlisle by most reports is unspectacular, but quick enough to pull and strong enough to hold the point of attack. It certainly won't be hard to improve on hoary Chris Gray's "performance" last year. While Hutch was the lost man, it was Seattle's right side that truly collapsed. In 2005 Seattle ranked second and seventh running to the right, in 2006 that mutated into 29th and 28th.
While 2007 may set a new precedent for the kind of money being thrown around in free agency, the talent level is nothing spectacular. Teams build contenders through good drafts, retaining good personnel and smart but sparing use of free agency. Not signing Dielman may free up money to resign Hamlin and acquire depth on the defensive line and in the secondary. Depth doesn't hold a great press conference, but winning teams have it.
We don't know the kind of money Dielman wanted or if he was ever serious about joining the Seahawks in the first place. Seattle was never linked to Dockery and Steinbach was badly overpaid. Let the Browns figure out how to construct a competitive team now that they've blown their wad on a guard. For all the talk about Seattle being aggressive this off-season, we can only hope that losing out on Dielman doesn't send Seattle scrabbling for scrubs like Kerney to prove that they've "done something". It sucks to lose your number one target on the second day of free agency. It sucks more to have pressing needs at offensive line and no first round pick in the draft. But this story hasn't unfolded yet, and while Tim Ruskell and company may panic and sign the Hawks into mediocrity the next few weeks, they might just wait until the second waive of cuts comes this summer. In that case, Seattle's hopes for contention in 2007 are a long way from being decided.