The Seahawks are desperate — and it shows.
So desperate that they guaranteed $7 million to a lineman who played just four games in 2016 and has no proven position worth that.
Rumor had it they offered $9.5 million a year to T.J. Lang, a 29-year-old guard coming off hip surgery, but they reportedly offered just $8 million.
They missed out on Lang, certainly the more proven of the two, and apparently are 100 percent confident Luke Joeckel will start for them in 2017 — despite that fact that he busted out at left tackle in Jacksonville and then suffered an ACL injury while playing at left guard last season.
You don’t guarantee $7 million unless you fully expect the player to start every game. The $8 million total payout would put Joeckel in the middle of the NFL’s left tackle salary scale; if he ends up at left guard, it would put him in the top five; at right tackle, he would be No. 3. Considering his undistinguished four-year career, it looks like a prove-it deal at left tackle.
Seattle line coach Tom Cable probably plans to try Joeckel at a couple of spots and see where he might be an upgrade. You would think the No. 2 overall pick from 2013 would at least be better than undrafted George Fant. If not, he had better be an upgrade over Mark Glowinski or Garry Gilliam — or this will end up being an even worse move than the signing of J’Marcus Webb last year.
At this point, without further additions, the line would be one of these combinations (left to right):
1) Joeckel, Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Gilliam
2) Fant, Joeckel, Britt, Glowinski, Ifedi
3) Fant, Glowinski, Britt, Ifedi, Joeckel
Rees Odhiambo, a third-round pick in 2016, also should figure in the competition somewhere.
The Seahawks obviously are not finished; they need one more veteran.
They previously have been linked to interior lineman Brian Schwenke (Tennessee). Austin Pasztor (Cleveland) fits Seattle’s athletic and versatility profile (guard and right tackle), although he gives up a lot of sacks. He played on the same Jacksonville line as Joeckel in 2013 and 2014, starting 20 games at right tackle.
The Hawks also could investigate injury-prone left tackle Ryan Clady and former Seattle right-sider Breno Giacomini, also coming off injury. And they could look to a couple of graybeard interior linemen: Jahri Evans, whom Schneider said he regretted cutting in 2016, and longtime Jet Nick Mangold. Both are 33.
Whoever else they add, they aren’t going to be much better than last year — unless the holdovers improve immensely and Joeckel comes back healthy and plays a lot better than he did in Jacksonville.
Joeckel will count $7.25 million (with another $750,000 possible in incentives), which leaves Seattle with about $12 million to add another lineman and decide how else to spend the remainder.
They are looking at running backs as well — Eddie Lacy and Adrian Peterson both have visited, and Jamaal Charles and Latavius Murray are scheduled — and need to find a defensive tackle (Tony McDaniel or another) and a safety (Kelcie McCray or another).
They also probably will want to re-sign DeShawn Shead, Mike Morgan and a couple other of their own free agents to minimum-ish deals. And then they could look at extensions for Justin Britt, Jimmy Graham and Kam Chancellor.
As we wrote previously, they can still accomplish that.