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Seahawks sign free agent I had predicted, will meet with one who I did not
Seattle made the wave two signing that was written in the stars (and on Seaside Joe)
My 2022 Seahawks rebuilding plan got slightly more accurate on Wednesday.
After writing on Wednesday morning that Seattle would be much more likely to target someone like Austin Blythe as an option for the offensive line than Andrew Norwell or Will Hernandez, the Seahawks signed Austin Blythe to a one-year, $4 million contract on Wednesday afternoon.
I have covered the Rams since 2020 and so I spent more than 18 months monitoring the career and offensive aptitude of Blythe. This part is never easy for some fans to hear, but yes… when a player struggles to hold a job in the NFL, that is not a good sign.
This also doesn’t mean that Austin Blythe can’t be a starting center or guard for Seattle in 2022. If he gets paid $4 million, that’s enough money to think that Pete Carroll is at least giving him the chance to compete at one of those positions. And if Blythe starts 17 games for the Seahawks next season—that also doesn’t necessarily mean that it was because he was good.
Which is why there are more than a few Seahawks fans out there confused by my proclamation that just because Blythe started for the Rams for three seasons—two at right guard, one at center—that does not make him an NFL starter.
I covered L.A.’s offensive line competitions in 2020. I covered the 2020 Rams season. I covered Blythe’s free agency in 2021 and L.A.’s decision to not entertain a new deal. I covered the names that people were throwing around to replace him, such as Austin Reiter, a Super Bowl-winning center from the Kansas City Chiefs who also proves the rule that “starting doesn’t make you a starter.” I covered Blythe remaining a free agent for almost a month, until he signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs for under $1 million.
An acquisition that made Kansas City so confident… that they drafted a center in the second round three weeks later.
Again, give Blythe every opportunity to replace Ethan Pocic at center in 2022. It doesn’t mean that Tyler Linderbaum will be ruled out as Seattle’s first round pick. It doesn’t mean that the Seahawks won’t sign another center. Blythe, exactly 14 months removed from his most recent start, is a choice you make when the offensive coordinator is looking to have to do the least amount of coaching and teaching possible to each individual member of the roster.
Blythe and Shane Waldron know each other very well. That’s why I imagined he was going to be an option. Seattle didn’t sign him on Wednesday because he’s a first wave free agent; they signed him so early because he was an obvious fit to fill a need. And that need isn’t necessarily “starting center.”
As far as the right side of the offensive line, I predicted on Wednesday morning that the Seahawks would probably focus most of their efforts this week on solidifying right tackle. I named re-signing Brandon Shell or signing Bryan Bulaga as options, but chose not to include Trent Brown at the time because despite his Pro Bowl abilities he has struggled to fit with any organization for longer than a season or two.
Also, signing Brown, unlike signing Bulaga, would factor into the Seahawks’ 2023 compensatory pick formula and that feels like a bit of a risk if in fact Seattle pays him like a Pro Bowl starting right tackle. That may not be necessary, given that Brown has missed 19 games over the last two seasons with the Raiders and Patriots (forcing his way out of Las Vegas, which wasn’t his first “force out”), and Adam Schefter reported on Wednesday that the Seahawks will meet with Brown on Thursday.
I consider this a “win” for me too because Trent Brown is basically like Bryan Bulaga, except he’s younger (29 this summer) and he might still be really good if he chooses to give the effort next season.
My predictions were pretty clear though: sign a second or third-wave center like Austin Blythe (done) and then focus on fortifying right tackle with a veteran even though that will not prevent Pete Carroll from drafting a tackle in the first two rounds next month. Maybe even ninth overall. Just the meeting with Brown shows that Seattle is prioritizing right tackle over other positions on the team right now.
Remember what I wrote on Wednesday morning. The 2022 Seahawks: Team-First. And my free agent predictions are based on:
Aversion to sensationalized takes
Sticking with what can be proven with empirical evidence and what’s in the historical record
Before free agency began I predicted: Re-signing Quandre Diggs (done), re-signing Sidney Jones (done), letting D.J. Reed sign for big money elsewhere (done), re-signing Gerald Everett to a 3-year, $24 million contract (wrong TE, right contract).
I’ve been wrong about: Everett over Will Dissly, and I didn’t get to the defense yet, so I was too slow on Uchenna Nwosu. But had I gotten there, Nwosu checks ALL the boxes that I would’ve been looking for with the Seahawks. I didn’t predict Al Woods, but I do SUPPORT Al Woods! Seattle also signed CB Artie Burns, a perfect fit into a “wave three” free agent plan.
What I’m waiting for: Trade for an underwhelming veteran QB (Goff, Foles), let Duane Brown walk, re-sign Rashaad Penny, re-sign Rasheem Green (Nwosu may undercut that prediction), trade Gabe Jackson and/or Carlos Dunlap, release Jason Myers, release Chris Carson (if Penny is re-signed), keep every pass rusher until training camp at least, keep Tyler Lockett.
Finally, I also considered trading Dunlap to the Steelers and getting right tackle Zach Banner back as part of the return. Well, that won’t happen because Pittsburgh released Banner on Wednesday; let’s see if he meets with the Seahawks.
Update: I predicted the Seahawks would not tender offers to these players and they did not.
Update: The Seahawks are releasing Benson Mayowa, which comes as no surprise after signing Nwosu.
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