Seattle Seahawks Continue To Retool Offensive Line

By Lars Hanson

SEATTLE — In the first week of free agency the Seattle Seahawks have solidified their defensive line through the signing of former Tennessee Titan Jason Jones and retention of Red Bryant. Seattle also landed their quarterback for the three years signing Matt Flynn to a three-year, $26 million dollar deal. That leaves the offensive line as the next major concern that needs to be address heading into the 2012 NFL Draft.

Since January 2010 when Pete Carroll and John Schneider were hired their No.1 priority has been youth, competition and rebuilding a dead offensive line.  The team has made significant strides over the past two years with left tackle Russell Okung along with a promising right side held down by James Carpenter and John Moffitt. Seattle released veteran left guard Robert Gallery and haven’t found a suitable replacement.

Steve Hutchinson, who was originally drafted by the Seahawks back in 2001 and played with the team from 2001-2005 before signing with the Minnesota Vikings in free agency. The fact that Hutchinson left to sign with Minnesota wasn’t what hurt fans the most. It was the manner in events that transpired under the Tim Ruskell–Mike Holmgren regime that hurts.

When news broke about the possibility of Hutchinson returning to Seattle it sounded almost too good to be true. As it turned out, it was. Hutchinson signed a three-year contract with the Tennessee Titans where former teammate and starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck plays. It was expected that Hutchinson would be plugged in between Okung and center Max Unger to bring a veteran presence and a solid replacement for Gallery.

Without Hutchinson and Gallery now in New England after signing a one-year contract with the Patriots the question remains who will replace Gallery? Wednesday the team announced the signing of veteran offensive line and former Chicago Bear Frank Omiyale which will give Seattle another versatile lineman with experience under Tom Cable, Seattle’s offensive line coach.

In the National Football League no team can ever have too much veteran depth especially on the offensive line. For Seattle it’s something their severely lacking with just one player,Max Unger, starting over 30 games. Unger and Omiyale each have started 32 games in their career with Paul McQuistan and Russell Okung the next closes tied with 22 starts.

Needless to say the Seahawks need to beef up their offensive line in both experience and talent before the 2012 season starts. Several free agents remain available such Jacob Bell and Jake Scott both solid veteran guard with both starting over double the amount Unger and Omiyale have.

Scott, at 6-foot-5 292-pounds  has started 121 games in his eight year career and hasn’t missed a start since his rookie season in 2004. Bell at 6-foot-5 304-pounds has started and even 100 games in his eight year career but only played a full 16 game season twice (2007, 2010). Both can play at either left or right guard and would bring an immediate impact and a veteran presence to a young, blooming line.

Seattle could also decide to upgrade the line through the draft with the twelfth overall pick. Local product and Stanford guard David DeCastro could be the perfect player to fill the void left by Gallery at left guard. At 6-foot-5 316-pounds DeCastro is the best guard prospect in the 2012 Draft and has the tools to come in day one and start, much like Okung in 2010.

If DeCastro isn’t on the board or Seattle choose to address another position with the twelfth overall pick then Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) or Brandon Washington (Miami, FL) could be solid alternative options. One thing is for certain the Seahawks will address the offensive line in the 2012 NFL Draft.

With a concentrated effort to improve the offense this offseason Pete Carroll and John Schneider will need to keep Matt Flynn vertical if they have any hopes of improving their 7-9 record.

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