The Seahawks' left tackle now is visiting Denver, which seems to only further cloud the picture of whether he will return to Seattle.
Two pieces of news Wednesday appeared to only further muddy the Seahawks’ already-uncertain left tackle position.
The first is that Donald Penn, long regarded as a possible fallback option for the Seahawks at left tackle, has agreed to re-sign with the Oakland Raiders.
The next, and maybe more important and telling, is that Seattle’s left tackle for the last six years, Russell Okung, is continuing his tour of NFL teams by visiting the Denver Broncos on Wednesday.
It’s Okung’s first visit since Sunday, when he met with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which had concluded a three-visits-in-three-days tour that also included stops at the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.
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The Steelers on Tuesday signed Denver’s Ryan Harris, appearing to close off Pittsburgh as an option for Okung.
And that Okung appeared to be in a state of deliberation raised speculation that maybe he would end up back in Seattle.
Instead, the news that he is continuing visits is eliciting the thought that it may be more unlikely now that he returns to the Seahawks. The thought all along has been that he has a pretty set offer from the Seahawks, one he likely could have taken at any time.
Okung is said to have had offers from the Lions and Giants, as well. That he’s now visiting the Broncos raises questions if he is continuing to look for offers better than what he has gotten (there have been reports that he is asking for at least $11 million a year) or if there is simply an allure to possibly playing for the defending Super Bowl champs that Okung wants to explore.
While many around the league are increasingly wondering what impact there has been on this process that Okung is representing himself, likely a bigger factor is his health — Okung had surgery last month to fix a dislocated shoulder and while he has said he should be ready to go by June, the shoulder is undoubtedly something teams are considering as they assess what to offer Okung.
One who thinks Okung’s best option is to return to Seattle on a one-year “prove it’’ deal is former NFL agent Joel Corry, who tweeted Wednesday that “Russell Okung should try to go back to Seattle for 1 year at $5M-$6M once convinced his asking price won’t be met.’’
That would allow Okung to play another season in a familiar situation and reprove his worth while also hopefully getting and staying healthy, and then hitting the market again next year.
While Okung waits to decide his future, exactly how the Seahawks plan to fill the left tackle spot also remains somewhat of a mystery.
Seattle on Tuesday signed free agent J’Marcus Webb, who mostly played guard last season for the Raiders but started the final three games at right tackle. Webb was generally considered by outsiders as the weak link in Oakland’s line in 2015 — Pro Football Focus wrote in a season-ending assessment of the Raiders that: “If this line had one weakness, and it did, it was J’Marcus Webb. A player who stood out for all the wrong reasons.’’
But maybe the Seahawks see something in Webb that others don’t — Seattle often looks for a different type of player to fit its zone blocking schemes — and maybe they saw it particularly in those last three games when he played right tackle.
Whether Seattle views Webb as a possible fit at left tackle remains unknown (we likely won’t hear anything from Seattle coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider until the NFL league meetings next week).
Given what Seattle has on its roster at the moment, the most likely starting five might be Garry Gilliam at left tackle, Justin Britt at left guard, Patrick Lewis at center, Mark Glowinski at right guard and Webb at right tackle.
Newly signed Bradley Sowell would be the most likely fit as the interior backup spot (last year filled by the now-departed Alvin Bailey) along with Kristjan Sokoli, Drew Nowak and Will Pericak (the team seems pretty high on Pericak, by the way, and he’s name worth remembering).
Others on the roster such as Terry Poole and Kona Schwenke (who is coming off an ACL injury suffered last August) are likely longer shots to make a big impact immediately next year.
The Seahawks, though, are undoubtedly far from done from adding to the offensive line.
Maybe there’s still a big move coming (Ryan Clady if he’s released by the Broncos, which might be more likely if Denver signs Okung?)
Seattle is also continuing to look at inexpensive depth players, such as Tuesday’s visit by Amini Silatolu.
And then there’s the draft, where the Seahawks at the moment have nine picks and undoubtedly would use a few — though it’s always a risky strategy to expect to get a sure-thing first-day starter when picking as low as Seattle is and it’s unlikely the Seahawks are necessarily counting on that.
For now, the next big domino to fall is likely to be Okung’s decision, one that with each moment may be more likely headed out of Seattle.