Coming into the bye week, Seattle Seahawks social media is abuzz with rumors of a trade, workout, or acquisition of two possible offensive line targets. While the Seahawks are currently in the NFC West lead, and their defense is performing in the top five of the NFL on a points per drive basis, there is concern with the lack of production on offense.
On Monday, Seattle reportedly tried out former Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins tackle Branden Albert, and another rumor linked the front office to a deal for Houston Texans holdout Duane Brown. While the likelihood of either deal is not clear, with financial and bargaining hurdles in the way of each for now, what exactly do these two potentially-available talents bring to the table?
In 2016, Brown played 778 snaps for the Houston Texans, in which he had a total of 12 blown blocks. He was not credited with allowing a single sack in 2016, a welcome upgrade for the Seahawks who allowed over 40 sacks last season, and that was ranked #17 in the league in fewest snaps per blown block (64.8). For comparison, in 2016 George Fant played 664 snaps, had 19 blown pass blocks , seven blown run blocks, and was credited with allowing six sacks. Additionally, Brown was only called for one penalty, an offensive hold, in all of 2016 compared to seven for Fant or six by Germain Ifedi. (Brown was responsible for seven penalties in both 2014 and 2015). Brown, though 32 years old and coming off a quadriceps tear in 2015, has performed in the past as one of the best left tackles in the NFL — and even the 17th-best past protection in the league is an upgrade over what the Seahawks got from Fant last year or Rees Odhiambo currently; already credited with allowing two sacks so far.
A bye week trade could be perfect timing.
There are some concerns with Brown, such as his ongoing contract dispute. Since Brown has not played a down for the Texans this year he may not be game ready. Ideally, with the extra week the coaching staff would have enough time to prepare him for the particular scheme Seattle wants. Brown is likely keeping himself in game day shape physically, but there is also no replacement for repetition. Also of concern is Brown’s cap hit approaching $10 million. To add Brown, Seattle would likely have to give up an impactful player and maybe restructure one or more other contracts.
Albert, who retired and then subsequently un-retired from the Jacksonville Jaguars, played for the Miami Dolphins last season, where he had 721 offensive snaps, nine blown pass blocks, three blown run blocks, and is credited with 1.5 sacks on the season. Albert was flagged for three penalties in 2016: two false starts and one offensive holding call. In all aspects, assuming he performed at his 2016 level, Albert would be a marked improvement over Odhiambo, but a less dramatic one than Brown. Albert, originally due $8.9 million in 2017, likewise brings similar salary concerns as Brown and his commitment to football (and staying in shape) might be a question considering his indecisive offseason.
The addition of either Brown or Albert would be an instant upgrade for the beleaguered Seahawks offensive line. If he can keep age at bay to match his recent performance, Brown would arguably be the best left tackle on the team in years, perhaps even since the retirement of Walter Jones. Odhiambo may develop into a starting player at some point, but for now he is a liability who allowed six pressures on 33 dropbacks just in Week 1 alone, for example, and at best remains extremely unreliable on the outside. Luke Joeckel likely missing several weeks also might require Odhiambo moving inside to guard.
While either acquisition could prove costly in terms of trade and restructuring, Seattle cannot continue to produce near the bottom of the league at this position if they expect to have sustained offensive success this season.