The numbers are out on Luke Joeckel’s contract with the Seattle Seahawks, and they aren’t great. Joeckel signed a one-year deal that contained a $4.25 million signing bonus and a $2.75 million base salary. His cap hit in 2017 will be $7.25 million, per OverTheCap. Why are those numbers not great?
The first issue would be that if Joeckel was a left guard, for example, he’d be in the range of being paid as about the sixth-best left guard in the NFL. Joeckel has primarily played tackle throughout his career and only recently moved to guard after he was a failure on the outside. He played four games there last season before going on injured reserve. There’s no way that Joeckel should be paid as a top-10 left guard.
As a left tackle, the salary is more reasonable, as it would be paying him as like the 20th highest-paid LT in the league, but Joeckel was clearly not playing at that level for the Jacksonville Jaguars or they might not have signed Kelvin Beachum to replace him there.
Here’s what Alfie Crow of Big Cat Country had to say about Joeckel after watching him with the Jags for four years:
Joeckel was moved inside to guard over the 2016 offseason when the team signed Kelvin Beachum. The writing was kind of on the wall when they didn't pick up his fifth year option. At guard he was like he was at tackle, wildly inconsistent. He got absolutely obliterated in the preseason against the Bengals and was adequate during the regular season before he got hurt, but he wasn't really missed once he was ruled out. At left tackle I would say Joeckel was just below mediocre. His issue was always he seemed to get in his own head and wasn't confident, especially when he got beat with power early. If someone beat him with power early he would tend to set power nearly every rush and just get whipped with speed moves or power feigns. He's not overly strong but he's athletic and when his head is right is OK, but the issue was he'd struggle early and just fall apart more often than not.
The deal cuts out a good chunk of the Seahawks available cap room this offseason and surely could have limited their offer to T.J. Lang, who signed with the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The “incentives” side of the deal is just another $1 million for being active on game days, but that’s a really low bar and doesn’t save Seattle much if Joeckel gets hurt or benched, which is a sad possibility. In the best case scenario where Joeckel plays left tackle and suddenly “figures it out” then the Seahawks get to potentially see him leave via free agency after only one season and they didn’t even get to say that they got him as a bargain.
The only good news that I can think of is that Seattle didn’t pay him as much as what the Carolina Panthers paid Matt Kalil (five years, $55 million) or what the LA Chargers paid Russell Okung (four years, $53 million), because I can’t imagine it being a good thing to lock down players like this without proving something. But without a team option for 2018 or a lower guarantee for 2017, this contract doesn’t seem like a win for the Seahawks.
That’s unfortunate, but it could just be the state of the offensive line market.