The Seahawks’ offensive line has endured a couple of rough games against stellar defensive fronts so far, and Bradley Sowell has been the most consistent problem player.
While we can expect Germain Ifedi’s eventual return to steady the right guard spot and Mark Glowinski and Justin Britt to continue to improve, left tackle is the one spot where there seems to be no help on the horizon. The Hawks are basically playing without a true left tackle this season.
Granted, Sowell will not have to go against great defensive lines like Miami’s or the Rams’ every week. And the coaches probably are counting on him holding his own against less stellar players than Robert Quinn.
But, in the wake of the slow-footed Sowell’s horrendous start to the season — three flags, one sack, one blocked field goal allowed, numerous pressures and hits surrendered — a lot of Seahawks fans are wondering once again whether John Schneider would make a deal for Cleveland All-Pro Joe Thomas.
The answer, like it was in the offseason, almost surely is no.
Put aside the fact that the Vikings might want Thomas, too, and it’s still hard to see Schneider giving up the cost in draft capital and cap space: The Browns would want at least a first-round pick for the 31-year-old star, who is making $8.3 million this season.
Even if the Browns were amenable to, say, a second-rounder and a 2018 fourth, Schneider still would have to find the cap space for the next two-plus seasons.
If Schneider waited until the bye week to make a deal, Thomas still would cost around $6.7 million for the rest of the season. The Seahawks have about $6 million in cap space, but they need to hold onto a good $3 million for potential injury issues. That leaves them very little wiggle room.
To fit Thomas, Schneider would need to tweak a big contract, such as Richard Sherman’s, which is paying him over $12 million this season. That goes against the no-credit philosophy of Schneider and contract man Matt Thomas, who also would need to adjust their cap plan for the next couple of years.
They actually have cap space in 2017 to re-sign Bennett and add a big contract, so it is possible. But “possible” and “likely” are different degrees of potential, and a trade for Thomas now seems like the same pipe dream it was during the offseason.
The Hawks very likely will muddle along with Sowell and the other tackles already on their roster, expecting them to step up enough for the team to contend.
Tom Cable said this week that the unit blocked the Rams’ pass rushers better than the Hawks have in two years — which is basically a nod to the protection calls of Russell Wilson and Britt. Of course, considering how poorly the Hawks have blocked the Rams, that doesn’t say much. Wilson was still sacked twice and hit nine times.
Cable and Pete Carroll also said the Hawks made a mess of the running game, with four big blunders helping send them backward.
J’Marcus Webb is simply not cut out to play guard, which is why Cable had him playing only tackle during camp. Cable said he is improving “slowly but surely” and “you expect another step up this week.”
But more than that, the coaches are hoping for Ifedi to step back in — if not this week then next. He will then have to play catchup for the three-plus weeks he has missed.
“That’ll be an issue like it is with everyone,” Cable said. “Not only is he young but coming off an injury (high ankle sprain), so there will be a process where he has to work back in.”
Meanwhile, rookies Rees Odhiambo and George Fant have not been options to this point, but Cable said, “I’m about ready to go with them both (as backups). They’re right there, so now it’ll be just a matter of when their opportunity comes. I think plugging them in, they’ll be ready.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Cable try Odhiambo or Fant at left tackle later this season — especially because the Hawks are unlikely to make that fan-fantasy deal for Thomas.