As the end of June quickly approaches, the start of training camp for the Seattle Seahawks, along with the rest of the NFL, is right around the corner. With that comes the excitement of the potential for a second consecutive draft class to have a huge impact as rookies, but before the season starts the Hawks will need to create cap space.
In the offseason discussions regarding the readily evident need for the team to free up cap space between now and late August, there has been considerable focus on the potential for the Seahawks to extend either tight end Noah Fant or linebacker Uchenna Nwosu. Inking either of those to a long term contract could free up cap space for Seattle, but the focus on those two this offseason has distracted from the reality that it’s another player entering the final year of their contract who is likely in line for a nice contract extension.
Specifically, Damien Lewis, whose on field performance has exceeded expectations for a third round pick, and who could easily find himself making more than the entire rest of the Seahawks offensive line combined. However, before getting to the specifics of what Lewis could earn, it’s more fun to enjoy this clip of Lewis battering opposing defenders.
Seahawks LG Damien Lewis knockdowns & body blows x 21 pic.twitter.com/bdkQ6n0m69— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) June 27, 2023
There will certainly be a group of fans who argue that Lewis has struggled since moving to the left side of the line, but the evidence doesn’t really show that. Specifically, here’s how Lewis has performed in pass protection during his three seasons in the NFL:
- 2020: 29 pressures, 4 sacks on 639 pass blocking snaps
- 2021: 21 pressures, 1 sack on 405 pass blocking snaps
- 2022: 21 pressures, 3 sacks on 637 pass blocking snaps
It’s certainly true that for the majority of the first two seasons of his career Lewis was tasked with protecting Russell Wilson, one of the most difficult to protect quarterbacks in the NFL. With that in mind, the area where Lewis most struggled in college was in True Pass Sets, which are passing plays that do not use play action or a rollout to make the job of the offensive line easier. Lewis was below average when it came to providing pass protection in True Pass Sets in college, and that continued upon entering the NFL.
He’s improved in that area during his three years in the league, and as has been found by multiple analysts, offensive linemen tend to blossom and reach their full potential in their third or fourth year in the league. Thus, putting Lewis’ continued improvement each season together with typical development curves for offensive linemen, and combined with the fact that at 26 six years of age Lewis is just entering his physical prime, the upside for him in the coming seasons should have fans excited.
On the flip side, while that upside likely has fans excited, the contract that he could command may not have fans as thrilled. Specifically, the market for a solid starting guard in their late 20s with no Pro Bowls on their resume is likely far higher than many fans would prefer the Seahawks commit. That said, Lewis is now the veteran anchor on the offensive line, and his 45 career starts represent more than 42% of the combined starts for the projected starting group of Charles Cross, Lewis, Evan Brown, Phil Haynes and Abraham Lucas. That’s a percentage that only increases should the Hawks opt to give the starting nod to either of the linemen selected on Day 3 of the draft, Olusegun Oluwatimi or Anthony Bradford.
In short, Lewis will be a key member of the 2023 offensive line, and fans shouldn’t be surprised if and when the Seahawks sign him to a contract that will keep him bulldozing opposing defenders for years to come.