The hottest free-agency story in the NFL right now involves the chase for a few flawed left tackles.
The Seahawks, of course, are right in the heart of it — with their Russell Okung taking a tour as they check into alternatives.
As it turns out, nine teams are looking at left tackles — four don’t have any and five apparently are considering upgrades.
Okung and Kelvin Beachum, both coming off serious injuries, are the two most popular free-agent options — the best of an underwhelming lot that includes 33-year-old Donald Penn, injured Will Beatty and unwanted Denver fill-in starter Ryan Harris.
Okung and Beachum are making the rounds, with interest from eight teams between them, including visits to each other’s former clubs. Okung, who already has had visits with the New York Giants and Detroit Lions, reportedly is on the way to Pittsburgh, where Beachum just finished his first contract. Beachum, meanwhile, has met with the Jets and apparently will head to Jacksonville before going to Seattle — assuming the Jags don’t sign him before he flies west.
Okung also reportedly has the interest of San Francisco, while Baltimore might be interested in Beachum.
The fact that neither found a home in the first four days of free agency and both are continuing to make visits means they might be looking at one-year deals. The longer Okung remains unsigned, the more likely it seems he will return to Seattle for 2016.
It’s certainly hard to see the Steelers paying him when they apparently have not made a big offer to their own guy. The Seahawks reportedly made a “strong” offer to Okung before he began his Eastern tour.
But, let’s assume Okung finds a better deal and the Jags use some of their $67 million in cap space to keep Beachum from ever getting to Seattle.
That would leave the Seahawks looking at Oakland free agents Penn and J’Marcus Webb (backup type on his way for a visit), with Beatty and Harris out there as well (Harris is visiting Pittsburgh as well).
The Seahawks clearly are trying to avoid having to move Garry Gilliam from right to left tackle. But what if they find no veteran options for the left side?
Is the draft a realistic option for a left tackle? Shon Coleman might be the only option at 26, unless the Seahawks think Le’Raven Clark or Jason Spriggs could come in and start. If the Hawks trade down into the second round, it might be worth trying one of them.
Otherwise, short of a veteran, there is no step-in starter available. In that case, the Seahawks would indeed be looking at Gilliam on the left side, with a TBD at left guard and Patrick Lewis, Mark Glowinski and Justin Britt filling out the rest of the unit. Not even close to ideal.
Of course, there also remain some other possibilities. The New York Jets might end up parting with one of their tackles — D’Brickashaw Ferguson or former Seahawk Breno Giacomini. If the 49ers end up with Okung, Joe Staley probably would be available.
And then there is the pipe dream: a trade for Joe Thomas. Would the Seahawks offer up Kam Chancellor and maybe a third-round pick to Cleveland for the All-Pro tackle?
However it ends, it is obvious the Seahawks are doing just about everything they can to find a left tackle.