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The Seahawks decline Germain Ifedi’s fifth year option, so what now?

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Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

On Thursday the Seattle Seahawks declined the fifth year option on right tackle Germain Ifedi that came along with his status as a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. With the option being passed on, Ifedi becomes the third of three first round picks on whom the Hawks have passed on the fifth year option. Now it becomes a question of whether Ifedi will follow in the footsteps of the two former Seahawks who had their fifth year option declined and went on to cash in with another team in free agency.

In 2015 it was James Carpenter who signed a four-year, $19.1M contract with the New York Jets after having seen his option not be picked up the prior year. The next year it was Bruce Irvin’s turn, cashing in with the Oakland Raiders to the tune of four years and $37M.

Which brings us to Ifedi. He’s been much criticized by fans, but he is set to turn just 25 in June, and is just two months older than the right tackle the San Francisco 49ers drafted in 2018, Mike McGlinchey. In fact, of the 142 offensive linemen who started at least ten games during the 2018 season, Ifedi was the 19th youngest.

And that brings us to his level of play. He has been heavily criticized during his time with the Seahawks, sometimes rightfully so, and sometimes unfairly so. It’s no stretch to say that properly evaluating offensive linemen is extremely difficult, largely due to the lack of metrics available for players at the position. However, with companies like Pro Football Focus and ESPN having introduced offensive line metrics in recent years, it becomes possible to at least attempt to understand where he ranks relative to other tackles.

I’ll start with the ESPN Pass Block Win Rating, which is based on the NFL tracking data and looks at whether or not the offensive lineman allowed a defender to enter the pocket before 2.5 seconds have passed after the snap. As former Field Gulls contributor Ben Baldwin noted on Twitter, Ifedi posted the exact same PBWR at right tackle Jack Conklin of the Tennessee Titans.

And, as Ben points out, that 82% rating was above average for tackles, with the league average coming in at 81% per Seth Walder of ESPN.

Then we can move over to Pass Blocking Efficiency from PFF. PBE looks at every pass blocking snap for a player and assigns it to one of four categories: a sack, a quarterback hit, a pressure or a clean play. The number of each type of play are then used to compute a numeric grade. How did Ifedi stack up against other NFL tackles in this category in 2018?

So, 56th of 83 is not bad, but it doesn’t quite measure up to his 2017 performance where he was 50th out of 90 qualifying tackles. Ordinal rankings are great, but let’s take a bit more detailed look on where he fell in relation to other tackles.

Germain Ifedi PBE compared to other tackles

Category 20% of snaps 50% of snaps
Category 20% of snaps 50% of snaps
Mean 96.4 96.6
Median 96.6 96.8
Standard Deviation 1.42 1.17
Ifedi 96.2 96.2
StDev from Mean -0.126 -0.361
StDev from Median -0.282 -0.513

So, he comes in below the median and the mean for both, which is not reassuring. However, PBE has one major difference compared to PBWR, and that is that it does not take into account how much time an offensive lineman needs to provide protection for the quarterback. So, a tackle such as Trent Brown or Ryan Ramczyk, whose quarterbacks get rid of the ball, have an easier time recording a high PBE than an offensive lineman protecting Russell Wilson.

In any case, it will certainly be interesting to see how things develop, and how Seattle handles this situation going forward. It was just a couple of weeks ago that they made Wilson the highest paid player in NFL history, and now they’ve got to make sure they take the necessary steps to protect him in the coming years.