The legal tampering period begins Monday, and that means that teams can begin discussing terms with those players whose contracts expire at 4 pm New York time on Wednesday, and that rumors and hope will be plentiful for fans of all 32 teams. For the Seattle Seahawks, they enter this free agency period less concerned about the offensive line than in seasons past, however, the team does need to address the two gaping holes at guard, with both starters, D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy set to hit the market.
In contrast, the team appears pretty well set at the tackle position with Duane Brown on the left side and Germain Ifedi on the right side. In addition, they also have Jamarco Jones under contract for the next three seasons as potential depth, and George Fant is a restricted free agent. The deadline for making tender offers to restricted free agents is Wednesday at 4 pm, so odds are that fans will not hear anything regarding a tender offer to Fant until closer to that deadline.
The reason why the team can wait things out is that is because in the two days between now and 4 pm Wednesday the Hawks can negotiate with other tackles that are on the market who could potentially fill the role Fant filled for less money or for more than just a single year.
Obviously, if the team is interested in filling Fant’s spot with a different player, it would likely be someone who is younger and less expensive, as it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to spend more on an older player who is likely to only sit the bench behind Ifedi and Brown. Thus, the starting point is to use Fant’s age as an upper limit in looking at potential free agents in which the team might show an interest.
In parsing through the offensive tackles on the market, many of the names that are younger than Fant, such as Trent Brown, Ja’Wuan James and Daryl Williams all stand to make far, far more than Fant, and as such those are names we can probably safely cross of the list.
The first name that jumps off the list of players younger than Fant is Ereck Flowers. Flowers is a former first round pick of the New York Giants who was never able to put things together in his time there. That failure led to being cut by the Giants and picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the middle of the 2018 season. However, Flowers played nearly every snap for the Giants during the two years that Mike Solari was the offensive line coach in New York, so their relationship could lead to something. Add in the fact that general manager John Schneider has not shied away from former first round picks viewed as busts by much of the rest of the league, and it’s certainly a name that can’t be crossed off the list.
The next player that could pique the interest of the Hawks front office depending on the market for his services could be Kendall Lamm of the Houston Texans. Lamm started thirteen games for Houston during its 2018 playoff season, and whether the Seahawks show interest likely depends on how hot Lamm’s market is. Lamm has played 1,440 offensive snaps to this point in his career, which is right in the neighborhood of the sweet spot where the Hawks have signed offensive linemen in the past. Some of those who were in the same range of snaps played prior to being acquired by the Hawks have included Oday Aboushi (1,388 snaps), Bradley Sowell (918 snaps) and Matt Tobin (1,606 snaps).
Moving on from Lamm, the last name on the list is Bobby Hart, formerly of both the New York Giants and the Cincinnati Bengals. Like Flowers, Hart was a two year starter for the Giants during 2016 and 2017, during which time he was coached by Solari. Thus, he would come in with a reasonable level of familiarity with both Solari and his coaching methods. In addition, Hart is just 24 years of age and will not turn 25 until just before the start of the 2019 season.
Hart is far from a world beater, and he obviously wouldn’t command a huge contract, but based on the fact that he played the 2018 season on a near league minimum contract, it’s not hard to imagine him landing a reasonable one year deal in 2019. Could he sign a larger deal? Absolutely, but it seems far more likely that he might come very inexpensively.
Thus, if the opportunity is there for the Seahawks to sign Hart, or some other tackle for at or near league minimum, would retaining Fant for $3.1M be the best use of cap space? Fant will be 27 during the summer, and Duane Brown is signed through Fant’s age 29 season. Thus, should the Seahawks allocate three million to George Fant on a second round tender to most likely ensure his return as the swing tackle in 2019, or should they break that money up and go after a couple of players like Hart who are younger and less expensive?
These are the type of questions teams will be asking over the next two days, as they decide how to best allocate their limited resources under the salary cap. For the Hawks, with both of the 2019 and 2020 starting tackles likely known, I’d expect the team to look to the future at the tackle position, which would mean potentially tendering Fant at the original round level.
In any case, this is three names to watch over the coming days in order to see if the Hawks show any interest and give any indication of their intentions regarding the future of the tackle position.