With free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, 90-man rosters across the NFL are taking shape as teams settle in for what could be a very unique offseason program. For the Seattle Seahawks, one of the offseason goals has obviously been the revamping of the offensive line, or at a minimum the right side of the line. The team spent much of the early part of the offseason talking about continuity, including Pete Carroll in January mentioning wanting to bring back the entire 2020 offensive line.
That’s obviously out of the question with George Fant signing to play
left tackle right tackle for the New York Jets and Germain Ifedi departing for the Chicago Bears. It’s entirely possible, potentially even realistic, that Duane Brown could be the only returning starter from last season. Mike Iupati is back, but is reportedly set to battle with 2019 fourth round draft pick Phil Haynes for the starting spot at left guard. Joey Hunt also returns after finishing out the season in place of the injured Justin Britt, but even after Hunt started the final eight regular season games and both playoff games the Seahawks went out and signed B.J. Finney, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On the right side of the line Damien Lewis appears to be the front runner to fill the job of the recently released D.J. Fluker, and the right tackle spot appears to be Brandon Shell’s to lose. Any of those spots, of course, could see another player step in and take over due to injury between now and the start of the season.
Turning to offensive line continuity expert Thomas Emerick, here is how the Seahawks currently stack up compared to the rest of the NFL when it comes to the number of returning starters on the offensive line.
Starting offensive line continuity by NFL team pic.twitter.com/g6HHv0u95x— thomasemerick (@ThomasEmerick) May 16, 2020
Those are, of course, simply projections, and the three returning starters Emerick counts are Brown, Iupati and Hunt. That means that should Haynes and Finney win the starting spots at left guard and center, the Seahawks could potentially be looking at having the lowest offensive line continuity in the league, which as of right now is a title projected to be held by the Miami Dolphins.
Now, continuity is obviously far from the only important factor for offensive lines, however, Emerick’s past research has found that there may potentially be a relationship between how well running backs perform and higher levels of continuity year to year. It’s nothing for which there is a direct correlation, simply a relationship between rushing success and offensive line continuity.
In any case, whether the Seahawks wind up with three, four or five new starters on the 2020 offensive line, what is certain is that they’ll have their work cut out for them protecting Russell Wilson, who is currently scheduled to have the second largest cap hit of any player in the NFL this season behind only Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys.