Assessing the Seahawks' offensive line after the departure of guard J.R. Sweezy

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Here are three thoughts on the departure of free-agent offensive guard J.R. Sweezy to Tampa Bay and the state of the Seahawks’ offensive line:

1. The Seahawks always valued Sweezy more than fans and Pro Football Focus.

I think back to a couple of seasons ago, when the Seahawks were actively stumping for Sweezy to be recognized as one of the better guards in the NFL.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable said, “It’s my opinion, but I think J.R. Sweezy is as good as anybody in football at what he’s doing right now.”

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Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said, “He’s probably one of the better guards in the league in my opinion.”

And teammate Russell Okung said, “He’s playing at what I’d say is a Pro Bowl level.”

All the while, Pro Football Focus, the site that hands out grades and evaluates every player in the league, continued to point out Sweezy’s shortcomings and struggles. It has always been that way with Sweezy, a converted defensive lineman who the Seahawks drafted in the seventh round in 2012. He was Cable’s personal project.

The Seahawks valued his toughness, his tenacity, his aggressiveness. He embodied what the Seahawks want to be about along the line. They liked those characteristics so much, especially when it came to how he blocked in the running game, that they were willing to overlook some of his flaws.

2. Is Mark Glowinski the Seahawks’ guard of the future?

The Seahawks raved about Glowinski after his one and only start last season as a rookie. It wasn’t perfect, but they saw plenty of potential.

So is Sweezy’s old job now Glowinski’s? It’s impossible to say at this point because the Seahawks will probably bring in a veteran free agent or two and could add guys in the draft. But Glowinski will get a good crack at being the in-house option.

The Seahawks drafted Glowinski in the fourth round last year, and of the three offensive linemen they picked last year, he was the only one to play.

After his lone start, Carroll said one of the big takeaways from the game was that the Seahawks learned that Glowinski could play for them.

“He stood his ground really tough and showed how physical he was,” Carroll said. “So, there’s just everything positive about it. We know he’s a tough guy. We just wanted to see if he would be settled down and play, and he had no problem doing that.”

3. What’s the state of Seattle’s offensive line?

Of all the questions heading into this offseason, this has probably been the most persistent, or at least the most pressing. How would they address an offensive line that struggled for much of last year?

As Carroll said at the end of the season, “I think this needs to be a really competitive spot again, and we’re going to work really hard to build it up. For the course of the season we weren’t consistent enough….I think that’s a real area of focus again, so we’ll be talking about it.”

In addition to losing Glowinski, the Seahawks are faced with questions all over the line:

Will Justin Britt remain at guard, where he played last season, or will he return to tackle, where he played as a rookie? “We’re going to figure that out,” Carroll said. “I can’t tell you that right now. It’s good he can play there. It’s good that he can play guard and tackle. That’s to his benefit.”

What will they do at center? The Seahawks will bring back center Patrick Lewis, who started half of the season last year, but will they look to add more depth or another veteran presence?

Will they re-sign left tackle Russell Okung or look to fill that spot in free agency?

Part of the problem is that the Seahawks don’t have a ton of salary cap flexibility, and part of the problem is that many of the well-regarded free-agent offensive linemen have already been signed.

It was the No. 1 area of concern heading into last season, and it is still that way as this offseason picks up.