It was two weeks ago Sunday that the offensive line of the Seattle Seahawks was dealt a big blow when center Justin Britt went down with a knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons. It did not take long for reports to surface that the injury was likely severe, concerns that were quickly confirmed. Britt, of course, has since had reconstructive surgery, and will not set foot on the field again this season.
In addition, with Britt set to carry the third largest cap hit of any center in the NFL in 2020 and the team able to save $8.5M by releasing him, the odds seem rather high that his days as a member of the Seahawks are numbered. That has led to questions about what the plan at the center position is going forward, with the logical choices being either Joey Hunt or Ethan Pocic. Hunt, a former sixth round pick out of TCU has filled in adequately for Britt the last two weeks, while former second round pick Pocic sits on injured reserve with a back injury.
Both Hunt and Pocic were drafted by Seattle during the time that Tom Cable served as offensive line coach, and both are better suited to a zone blocking scheme than to the gap blocking preferred by current offensive line coach Mike Solari. Saturday head coach Pete Carroll hinted that this may indeed be true and gave a glimpse into what could be in store at center going forward.
Pete Carroll said today rookie OL Phil Haynes has been getting some practice at center with the idea of developing him at that position. That could have some potentially interesting long-term ramifications.— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) November 9, 2019
Phil Haynes, of course, is the big (6’4”, 322 pounds), powerful (33 reps on the bench) fourth round pick of the Seahawks who just came off of injured reserve. Haynes brings the size and explosiveness that Solari loves on the interior of the line, while also bringing top of the charts pop and explosiveness.
Whether or not Haynes can learn to play center, or even play offensive line in the NFL obviously remains to be seen. However, as a four year starter at Wake Forest Haynes he started 47 games on the line and has all the physical tools. Now it’s a matter of seeing whether he can put it together on the field.