2012 Seahawks Off-Season Analysis Part I: Offensive Line
This series will examine seven position groups on the Seahawks, reviewing their 2011 performance, the impending free agents, and the potential for free agent or draft additions. The final part of the series will summarize the recommended plan of attack across the entire team.
Part I: Offensive Line Part II: Defensive Line Part III: Secondary Part IV: Linebackers Part V: Wide Receivers & Tight Ends Part VI: Running Backs & Fullbacks Part VII: Quarterbacks Part VIII: Summary & Recommendations
State Of The Position
Three of the top four picks by Pete Carroll and John Schneider have been spent on offensive lineman. Russell Okung was taken 6th overall in the 2010 draft. James Carpenter was taken 25th, and John Moffitt was taken in the 3rd round (the team had no 2nd round pick) in 2011. Each of those three players has shown promise, and have given strong signs they are talented enough to start in the NFL. None of those three players finished the year on the active roster. This is the paradox facing the Seahawks front office as they try to build their foundation from a dominant offensive line. The quarterback position gets the most attention, but make no mistake, this era of Seahawks football is every bit as dependent on the quality and stability of this offensive line. Tom Cable came in and turned this group into a nearly faceless unit by season’s end that allowed the Seahawks to operate reasonably well with three starters on injured reserve. Long term, the team cannot expect Cable to stick around, and certainly should not count on back-ups to carry them to a championship. Okung must shed the injury-prone label. Carpenter must shed the extra weight. Moffit needs to recover.
Okung’s torn pec is not something that should impact his game next season, but Carpenter’s and Moffit’s injuries are severe. Carpenter was already questionable in pass protection, especially against speed rushers, and a blown ACL on his left knee will definitely effect his lateral explosiveness off the line. Seahawks fans should brace for the potential that this injury forced Carpenter inside to guard. He is young, so a full recovery is possible, but it should not be counted on. Moffitt tore both the MCL and PCL. Guards don’t need to be the quickest players on the field, but this was a significant injury. There is more hope for a full recovery from Moffitt, in part, because he has proven to be a diligent worker.
Robert Gallery missed the first few games of the year, but managed to play the rest of the season. He largely met the expectations associated with his free agent contract. Gallery is 31-years-old, and it is not unusual for guards to play into their mid-30s. What happens with Carpenter could effect Gallery’s future, but a change next year would be less likely other than if an injury fells Gallery. Max Unger was a revelation at center. He played 15 out of 16 games, and was arguably the best player on the line for the balance of the season. His emergence answered a big question at center, where he should anchor the line for many years. He is feisty and smart, traits that any coach loves in the line leader.
2012 Seahawks Free Agent Lineman:
OT Breno Giacomini
OL Paul McQuistan
OG Mike Gibson
Seahawks Lineman Under Contract:
LT Russell Okung
OL Robert Gallery
C Max Unger
OG John Moffitt
OL James Carpenter
OL Lemuel Jeanpierre
OL Paul Fanaika
OT Jarriel King
OL Allen Barbre
OL Brent Osborne (Practice Squad)
Giacomini and McQuistan played pivotal roles last season. Giacomini played a nasty right tackle in place of Carpenter, and McQuistan shocked many of us by proving he could play a little left tackle. Both are unrestricted free agents, and Giacomini may have played well enough to earn some offers as a starting right tackle for another team. He is only 26-years-old, and shows potential to get measurably better. He will be Seattle’s toughest decision on the line. Signing him would allow Carpenter to come back when he is ready, but also creates a possible logjam if the coaches decide Carpenter should slide inside to guard. Seattle will have a hard time finding a better option at RT than Giacomini. McQuistan is a solid back-up that should be re-signed if the price is right. The team has developed other, younger, talent like Jeanpierre, but a veteran back-up that can play nearly any position in Cable’s system is a luxury that should come at a reasonable price. King is a wild-card for next year the way Giacomini was this year. The coaches have been developing him over the season, but there is little evidence to show he can contribute.
It would be a waste to detail much on free agents here. The Seahawks will be looking to sign their own players, and will only go to free agency on the line if something unpredictable happens. If they want more depth or talent here, it will come via the later rounds of the draft.
Some mock drafts have had the Seahawks picking a player like Stanford’s OG David DeCastro with their first-round pick. Don’t bet on it. Gallery is old, and injury-prone, but there are options within the organization to fill that spot if needed. Seattle may add more lineman later in the draft if they find a great value, but offensive line is near the bottom of the needs list.
Carroll has said publicly that he is really happy with the make-up of his offensive line. He was also openly complimentary of Giacomini and McQuistan. Expect the team to try and re-sign both players, and possibly add another player late in the draft. It is possible that no additions will be made to the line this off-season, outside of re-signing players. That would mark a stunning turnaround from a team that entered 2011 with only one starter that had played his position for the Seahawks in 2010.