As we come to the end of the first day of NFL Free Agency, all has been quiet in Seattle. As in most seasons under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, the Seahawks stood on the sidelines and watched other teams pay (and often overpay) for the best available players in free agency. While this strategy has paid off in the past, this year’s uncertainty surrounding the Russell Wilson situation looms large.
Wilson requested a serious investment in an offensive line that has allowed at least 40 sacks in eight straight seasons. With holes at left guard and center, fans hoped this meant the front office would change their stance and pony up for a big-time player like Corey Linsley or Joe Thuney. Despite showing some interest, the Seahawks ultimately couldn’t land either, as both signed massive contracts elsewhere.
Seahawks Pass on Top Offensive Line Free Agents
Missing out on Thuney and Linsley hurts, but looking at their new deals, it’s understandable if not excusable. Thuney’s a great player, but not great enough to warrant a market-setting contract. At $16 million per year, he’s now the highest-paid guard in the league among players on multi-year deals.
Thuney is an excellent pass-blocker, allowing just three sacks since 2018, but quality of competition has been a factor. The AFC East doesn’t boast any of the league’s best interior pass-rushing threats, outside of rising star Quinnen Williams. Thuney might not have had the same success in Seattle, having to face Aaron Donald and J.J. Watt four times a year. The Chiefs had no such qualms, as they were able to outbid the Seahawks and a host of other teams.
Corey Linsley’s new Chargers contract better reflects his value, as his 89.9 overall PFF grade led all centers last season. His $12.5 million average salary ties him with the Colts’ Ryan Kelly for highest-paid among centers. He’s somewhat riskier than the younger, more durable Thuney, as he missed three games last year with an MCL sprain. He’s also dealt with minor back issues the past couple seasons and will be 30 in July. Still, the Seahawks’ apparent lack of interest in Linsley is surprising, as he would’ve been a perfect scheme fit.
Kevin Zeitler, however, is an astonishing miss for a front office that prides itself on finding free-agent bargains. The Giants released him last week, meaning signing him wouldn’t have cancelled out the compensatory picks the Seahawks are likely to receive for Shaquill Griffin and Chris Carson. Zeitler just turned 31 and his play fell off a bit last year, but he consistently ranked among the league’s best pass-blockers in each of the eight seasons prior. At just $7.5 million per year, the Ravens aren’t wagering a whole lot on a return to form.
Still, it’s only the first day of free agency, and the Seahawks still have plenty of options left. Although the available talent pool thins out after Linsley and Thuney, many could still fulfill Russell Wilson’s request. Players like guards Gabe Jackson and Trai Turner or centers David Andrews and Austin Reiter all offer an upgrade over last season’s Iupati-Pocic combo. If the front office is truly committed to keeping their star quarterback happy and healthy, we’ll need to see some concrete proof, and soon.