Former Jaguars’ OL Luke Joeckel expects to sign 1-year deal with Seattle Seahawks, per sources. Seattle upgrades its line.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2017
Source: #Packers OG TJ Lang initially visiting Detroit and Seattle. GB still in the mix.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2017
The Seahawks fans get their wish — some O-line help. The deal for Joeckel is reportedly worth $8m. It’s a substantial prove-it deal — but look at the going rate:
— The Panthers gave Matt Kalil, a below-average starter who missed 14 games in 2016 through injury, a $55.5m contract with $25m guaranteed.
— The Browns are set to pay Kevin Zeitler $60m over five years with $31.5m in guarantees. They’re also giving often-injured guard Joel Bitonio a $51.5m extension with $23m guaranteed.
— The Broncos are paying Ronald Leary $36m over four years with $20m in guarantees. Leary only started in Dallas in 2016 because of an injury to La’el Collins and he was diagnosed with a degenerative knee issue.
— The Rams are paying Anthony Whitworth $36m with $15m in guarantees, including $13m in 2017. Whitworth turns 36 in December.
— Russell Okung has agreed a $53m, four-year contract with the Chargers including $25m in guarantees.
— Riley Reiff intends to sign for the Vikings. Considering Minnesota’s desperate need on the O-line, they’re likely giving him a big contract.
The Seahawks cannot compete in this market — and that’s a good thing.
Before the Joeckel addition, Seattle only had five players set to earn more than $10m in 2017 — Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Earl Thomas and Jimmy Graham. All five justify their salaries. The next five highest earners are Doug Baldwin ($9.6m), Kam Chancellor ($8m), Bobby Wagner ($7.6m), K.J. Wright ($6.8m) and Cliff Avril ($5.5m).
Consider the cap hits for those ten players and then consider what Matt Kalil and Ronald Leary are going to be earning in 2017. Then consider which of the ten above you’d rather lose and replace with Kalil, who would be the third highest paid player on the team.
Like it or not, the Seahawks built their identity on defense and possess a rare, genuine franchise quarterback.
Had the Seahawks built their identity on the O-line like Dallas, that’s likely where the investment would be right now. And we’d all be talking about the defense not being good enough instead.
As it is, the Seahawks didn’t have the #9 pick in 2011 for Tyron Smith or the #16 in 2014 for Zack Martin. They picked at #25 and #32 instead. And they had the foresight to draft Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and others on day three.
They’re left to try and develop a young line with a little help from guys like Joeckel with a point to prove. And they have to identify targets in an ever shrinking pool of draft options.
Good O-liners go early (aka the range where Seattle never picks) and it’s why Garett Bolles will likely go in the top-10 this year. They just don’t last. You’re often looking for upside and potential after the first round.
Have they missed on players? Sometimes. But it’s not a long list of O-line Pro-Bowlers drafted after the first round in the Pete Carroll era:
2011: 2 (Rodney Hudson, Jason Kelce)
2012: 1 (Kelechi Osemele)
2013: 1 (David Bakhtiari)
2014: 1 (Trai Turner)
Five in seven years. That’s it. And at a time when Pro-Bowl invites aren’t exactly hard to come by.
Plus for all the talk of Seattle’s ability to identify talent, it could be a lot worse. See, the 2011 late first round:
#23 Danny Watkins (Eagles)
#26 James Carpenter (Seahawks)
#29 Gabe Carimi (Bears)
#32 Derek Sherrod (Packers)
Meanwhile they’ve turned a defensive tackle into a $6.5m a year guard, a second round tackle into a blossoming center and we’ll see if the current group can take a step forward in 2017.
Joeckel has a point to prove. He was once tipped to be the #1 pick in 2013 before the Chiefs selected the more athletic Eric Fisher. He flopped in Jacksonville after being selected at #2. Yet he has familiarity with Germain Ifedi and might be playing next to him at right tackle.
$8m speaks to how highly rated he was entering the league. It also dispels any theory that the Seahawks are ‘cheap’ on the O-line.
It’s the kind of prove-it deal Seattle nailed with Bennett and Avril. Let’s see if Joeckel can deliver on his potential. He’s not even 26 until November.
As for T.J. Lang — he’s considered one of the best guards in the NFL. He broke his foot in the NFC Championship game and is expected to miss the entire off-season. That could impact his value. And while it seems somewhat likely he’ll end up returning to Green Bay, the news he’s visiting with the Seahawks tomorrow will be welcomed by anyone hoping for proven experience and quality on the O-line.
This level of focus also suggests what we kind of knew already — this is a draft for the Seahawks to go heavy on defense.
And Stephen Hauschka has signed a contract with the Bills. There will be a new starting kicker in Seattle this year.