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Battle is on for Seahawks swing tackle role

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday the Seattle Seahawks dropped the preseason opener 20-7 to the Las Vegas Raiders with none of the projected starters on the offensive side of the ball seeing the field. All the big names, from Russell Wilson to his skill position players and the entire starting offensive line were rested with nothing meaningful on the line. That gave the younger players competing for a spot on the roster the opportunity to show what they can do, and one battle that will be fascinating to watch over the coming weeks is the four man competition for the swing tackle role.

The Seahawks have gone hard in addressing the tackle position in each of the past two offseasons. In 2020 they brought in both Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi through free agency, and then during this most recent offseason reupped Ogbuehi for another season while drafting Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan.

Forsythe was one of just three players the team drafted, while Curhan was the undrafted free agent to whom the team gave the largest signing bonus. Obviously, players selected on the final day of the draft and undrafted free agents are unlikely to jump right into a starting role, and the reasons why were on display Saturday against Las Vegas. However, the Seahawks find themselves in an interesting position at tackle, where the time in which the team could be looking for new tackles before many fans expect.

There’s no question that Duane Brown is the starter at left tackle, health permitting, while Brandon Shell likely has right tackle locked down, but here’s a look at the possible depth chart for the Seahawks at tackle, without regarding for any left or right side designation.

  • T1: Duane Brown
  • T2: Brandon Shell
  • T3: Cedric Ogbuehi
  • T4: Jamarco Jones
  • T5: Stone Forsythe
  • T6: Jake Curhan

The situation at the position could certainly be worse, but here’s a look at the same depth at the position, taking into account their contract status and when the current contract of each of these players is set to expire.

  • T1: Duane Brown - free agent after 2021 season
  • T2: Brandon Shell - free agent after 2021 season
  • T3: Cedric Ogbuehi - free agent after 2021 season
  • T4: Jamarco Jones - free agent after 2021 season
  • T5: Stone Forsythe - free agent after 2024 season
  • T6: Jake Curhan - free agent after 2024 season

So, basically, what it boils down to is that the Seahawks have zero experienced tackles under contract past this season. Obviously, they could sign a contract extension with Brown or Shell to keep one of the positions locked down, but that barely begins to scratch the surface of the discussions the front office will likely be having on this topic in the coming days and weeks.

Complicating, or perhaps simplifying matters, is the fact that Ogbuehi is out with a biceps strain. Whether that is an injury that will require a couple of weeks to recover, or whether it will require a couple of months could play a material role in whether Ogbuehi retains his spot on the roster. In addition to Ogbuehi being out with injury, Jones has missed the last few practices as well as the game Saturday with back issues.

That left Forsythe and Curhan to handle the tackle duties for much of the game. Each of them manned 35 snaps on their respective side of the line, with Curhan moving inside to finish out the game by showing what he can do at guard. Between the two of them, they pose a significant risk to Ogbuehi’s hold on the swing tackle role, and it would not be a huge surprise if either of them grabbed the swing tackle spot from Ogbuehi while he’s missing time due to injury.

Having said that, Jones missing time could be a boon for Curhan. One of the biggest factors for Jones maintaining his spot on the roster has been his versatility and the ability to play both guard and tackle. Curhan, though, earning significant snaps during the preseason could prove dangerous to Jones.

What that all boils down to is that while a whole host of fans are clamoring for the Seahawks to extend Duane Brown, the reality of the situation is that there are a multitude of moving parts at the tackle position that must be sorted out before Seattle decides whether or not to even extend Brown.