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Seahawks offensive line again looking at possibility of significant turnover

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Photo by Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With the Seattle Seahawks season having ended at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs, the arrival of the offseason means it’s time to take stock of what the team has going forward. So far this week Field Gulls has looked at

Where the defensive line stands heading into 2021,
What the linebacking corps will look like next season and
How the emergence of D.J. Reed reduces the urgency to retain Shaquill Griffin.

With the review of the defense complete, it’s now time to turn to the offense, where the coveted continuity on the offensive line could again prove to be more talked about than seen in action. Of the offensive linemen who finished the season on the 53 man roster for the Seahawks, just three are currently under contract for next year, with two more linemen who finished the year on injured reserve signed, along with a pair of 2021 practice squad members having signed a future contract this week. The offensive linemen currently under contract for 2021 are:

  • LT Duane Brown
  • RT Brandon Shell
  • LG Damien Lewis
  • G/T Jamarco Jones
  • G Phil Haynes
  • C Brad Lundblade
  • T Tommy Champion

In addition to those players who are under contract, the team has a trio of players who are under team control. Specifically, Kyle Fuller is an exclusive rights free agent, while both Jordan Simmons and Chad Wheeler are restricted free agents. Those three combined for seven starts on the offensive line and 736 offensive snaps. So, while none of them individually is a must have for the Hawks next season, it seems likely they could all return on inexpensive contracts.

Lastly, the unrestricted free agent offensive linemen represent a combined 28 starts and 1,707 offensive snaps. They are:

  • Ethan Pocic (14 starts, 932 offensive snaps)
  • Mike Iupati (10 starts, 498 offensive snaps)
  • Cedric Ogbuehi (4 starts, 277 offensive snaps)

Fans will likely be unconcerned with whether Iupati or Ogbuehi return, which is understandable given their performance this season. In addition, in Iupati’s case in particular, it appears as though Father Time may have finally caught up with him. Now, it is entirely possible Iupati could agree to a minimum deal with playing time incentives, but this was the second year in a row where he was either unavailable or ineffective in the postseason due to injuries. That could push the Hawks to decide to move on at the position, even if Iupati is willing to play for next to nothing.

The free agent offensive lineman who will undoubtedly generate the most discussion among fans is Pocic, who performed well in 2020, but who at the end of the day is simply not the type of lineman that offensive line coach Mike Solari prefers. The interior linemen added since Solari arrived in 2018 have been more of the massive, mauling types, including Lewis, Haynes, Iupati, Simmons and Fuller. Pocic, as technically sound as he may be is a far better fit for a pure zone blocking team, as he simply lacks the ideal power and strength for a center in Solari’s system.

How exactly the team addresses the left guard and center positions this offseason could go a long way towards answering questions about what the team’s offensive strategy might look like heading into 2021. And that, Seahawks fans, is a question that will likely be hotly debated most of the offseason following a week in which Pete Carroll stated he wanted to run the ball more and more effectively, while Russell Wilson Monday said he wants to throw for the most touchdowns ever.

In short, there will be a lot of debate about the Hawks 2021 offense this offseason, and how the team chooses to fill the two projected holes in the starting line will likely be the best keys for insight into what to expect from the offense next year.