Seahawks' offensive line is priority No. 1 in free agency
The Seahawks don’t have many needs this offseason, but a couple are fairly glaring, particularly along the offensive line. Here are a few moves that could help Seattle reclaim the top spot in the NFC West next season.
WR Jermaine Kearse
Tyler Lockett’s emergence as a rookie will surely generate continued growth in his role going forward, but Kearse has been productive and would still be an effective option in the passing game. Russell Wilson had a 126.1 passer rating when targeting Kearse, the fourth-highest rating in the league. Seattle should look to re-sign Kearse, but only if it’s for the the right price. The prime time for the Seahawks to get this deal done would be before free agency starts, as a lackluster free agent wide receiver group could drive up Kearse’s price once other teams are allowed to negotiate.
LT Russell Okung
Okung graded among the top 10 tackles in 2012, but he has since followed up with his three lowest-graded seasons and has been average at best. Still, he was the Seahawks’ best linemen last year on a line that has other holes to address. There are potentially a few options better than Okung in free agency, but if they can re-sign the former Oklahoma State standout to a reasonable contract, then the money not spent on an upgrade could go towards a different position instead.
RG J.R. Sweezy
J.R. Sweezy has graded below average in each of his four seasons with Seattle. In his last three seasons as a starter, his overall grade has gotten worse each year, while never grading above-average as a pass protector. At this point, it’s time to move on from the former seventh-round draft pick.
LB Bruce Irvin
Irvin adjusted well to playing more in coverage and rushing the passer less often over the last couple seasons, but he still might be better suited in less of a traditional linebacker role. While he has played well, it’s likely he will see more money on the open market than he will be worth to Seattle.
DT Brandon Mebane
Brandon Mebane can still make an impact as a role player, but he’s not the performer he was a couple of seasons ago. Defending the run used to be his strength, but his run-stop percentage has dropped each year since his peak in 2012. Last season, he ranked 64th out of 71 defensive tackles. This might be the best time to move on and invest in someone younger.
RB Fred Jackson
Even with Marshawn Lynch out for much of the season, Jackson didn’t make much of an impact, as Thomas Rawls and Christine Michael were the more effective players. He could still be an asset in the passing game, but there are younger alternatives in free agency that could offer as much (or more) than the 35-year-old at this point.
LG Richie Incognito
In his first full season since 2012, Richie Incognito had the best season of his career, and earned the second-best grade among all guards. Outside of missing time due to suspension, he has consistently been a very good guard throughout his career. He would only be a short-term solution since he turns 33 this summer, but he would be a massive upgrade as both a pass-protector and a run-blocker, while also providing the Seahawks more time to find a younger successor.
RG Brandon Brooks
The Seahawks had below-average play from four of their five offensive lineman last season, and Justin Britt fared worse in his move to guard than he was at tackle the year before. Even though Russell Wilson helps mitigate some pressure with his mobility, they still need to do a better job protecting him. Right tackle might be more pressing than a second guard, but the quality of tackle prospects drops quickly after the top few players, and Brandon Brooks could be less expensive than one of them. Brooks had a bit of a down year as a run-blocker, but he ranked as a top-five run blocker in the two years prior. He also has been an above-average pass-protector in each of his four years, and has improved each season.
DT Nick Fairley
Nick Fairley looked like he might have his breakout season in 2014, but it was unfortunately cut short due to injury. After settling for a one-year prove-it deal with the Rams last offseason, Fairley ended up with just one sack in 2015. That hardly tells the whole story about his season, though. Despite having a more limited role than in Detroit, Fairley finished with his highest overall and run defense grades, and the second-best pass rushing grade of his career. Could Fairly be undervalued again this offseason? If so, can the Seahawks pull out yet another reasonable deal for a productive defensive lineman?