The Seahawks have made a lot of errors regarding their offensive line in the last two years, and John Schneider admitted another one Wednesday at the Combine.
“We probably got a little bit too young,” he said of the 2016 starting crew that included neophyte George Fant, fellow first-year starters Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi, first-year center Justin Britt and undrafted right tackle Garry Gilliam.
Schneider told reporters he regretted not keeping veteran guard Jahri Evans — that probably would have been smarter than keeping J’Marcus Webb, who ended up starting three games at right guard (when Ifedi was hurt) and was later released.
The youth mistake of 2016 follows on the heels of trying to use untested Drew Nowak at center for too long in 2015 — an error Pete Carroll later lamented.
Schneider surely will try to do better with veteran linemen this offseason. He is expected to contact Russell Okung next week about a possible return. Okung reportedly is going to remain his own agent — that netted him a one-year deal worth $5 million with Denver last year. Schneider probably won’t be interested in paying anything more than $7 million a year on a short, incentivized contract.
Schneider officially can talk to Okung on March 7. Free agency begins March 9.
Schneider needs to find options for both tackle spots — someone to challenge Fant on the left side and someone to play right tackle (Gilliam is a restricted free agent).
Schneider might also check into former Seahawk Breno Giacomini, who played right tackle on the Super Bowl teams. He was waived by the Jets with a failed physical due to a back problem, so the Hawks would have to investigate that closely.
With $20 million to spend on free agents and extensions, Schneider might be willing to put some cash down on a tackle. Riley Reiff (Detroit) can play both sides and would seem to be the best option if Schneider wanted to pay big money for a guy.
It’s more likely Schneider will shop the bargain bin again, hoping to do better than Webb and Bradley Sowell.
The salary cap has been set at $167 million, meaning the Hawks have about $26 million to spend. That’s really $20 million for free agents and extensions.
Asked about an extension for Kam Chancellor (who had bone spurs removed from his ankles again), Schneider said, “We have several guys that we will get to. We want to be able to take care of our team, and he’s obviously a huge part of that.”
Extensions for Chancellor, Jimmy Graham and Justin Britt — all entering the final year of their deals — could take as much as $5 million in cap space, but that still would leave $15 million for outside free agents. Schneider said Graham definitely will be part of the Seahawks in 2017 — the question is whether he will let him play out his deal or extend him.
Schneider said the extra cap space does not change his approach in free agency. He said the Hawks are always aggressive, checking into many possibilities: “We try to pride ourselves in being involved in a lot of deals and then deciding what our threshold is for those deals.”
He reiterated he is always looking three years ahead with the cap, trying to keep the Seahawks consistently competitive. Here’s a three-year look at this point.
Also, the Seahawks continued their trend of not using the franchise tag, extending the streak to seven years. Of course, with Luke Willson and Steven Hauschka their biggest free agents, there were no candidates for it.