After a rugged 2016 season, will the Seahawks make big changes on the offensive line heading into 2017?

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There were no shortage of opinions about the Seahawks’ offensive line this season.

That doesn’t mean there wasn’t something of a consensus — at least from the outside.

Fans generally pointed to the line as the cause of much of the team’s ills, a thought reinforced by the likes of the statistical analytic site Pro Football Focus, which in its season-ending position reviews tabbed Seattle’s as the worst offensive line in the NFL this season.

“The success Seattle has experienced this season is entirely in spite of its offensive line,’’ PFF wrote.

Seattle coaches, as might be expected, generally had a more favorable view. “I think we made a ton of progress,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said in his season-ending press conference.

Still, Carroll acknowledged that it has to get better in 2017 for Seattle to accomplish all of its lofty goals.

So what now?

First, a quick look back at 2016 as we continue our review of Seattle’s position groups.

STARTERS

CENTER

Justin Britt

Snaps played: 994 of 1,059, 93.9 percent (per Pro Football Reference).

Contract situation: Signed through 2017 season.

LEFT TACKLE

George Fant

Snaps played: 664 of 1,059, 62.7 percent.

Contract situation: Signed through 2018 season.

LEFT GUARD

Mark Glowinski

Snaps played: 1,059 of 1,059, 100 percent.

Contract situation: Signed through 2018 season.

RIGHT TACKLE

Garry Gilliam

Snaps played: 811 of 1,059, 76.6 percent.

Contract situation: Restricted free agent.

RIGHT GUARD

Germain Ifedi

Snaps played: 840 of 1,059, 79.3 percent.

Contract situation: Signed through 2019.

BACKUPS

CENTER

Joey Hunt

Snaps played: 66 of 1,059, 6.2 percent.

Contract situation: Signed through 2019 season.

TACKLE/GUARD

Rees Odhiambo

Snaps played: 33 of 1,059, 3.1 percent.

Contract situation: Signed through 2019 season.

TACKLE

Bradley Sowell

Snaps played: 630 of 1,059, 59.5 percent.

Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent.

2016 REVIEW

In what has been a well-documented tale, the Seahawks entered the season with the lowest-paid, and one of the youngest, offensive lines in the NFL following an off-season when two more starters from the 2013 Super Bowl team left via free agency – left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy.

The Seahawks made some attempts to bolster the line in free agency — coach Pete Carroll revealed last week that Seattle tried to make a run at center Alex Mack, who ended up signing with the Falcons. But the Seahawks ultimately had to settle for two fairly low-cost signings in J’Marcus Webb and Sowell.

Seattle was mostly hoping that young players could quickly mature, such as Ifedi, a first-round pick in 2016, Glowinski, a fourth-rounder in 2015, Britt — who was moved to center — and Gilliam, a third-year player initially ticked to replace Okung at left tackle.

Depending on your view, the results were either mixed, at best, or disastrous.

Britt proved a good fit at center, in what was the most positive (or to some eyes, only) development.

The line only got younger and cheaper when Webb — who had failed to win a starting job at either guard or tackle — was waived at mid-season and Sowell suffered a knee injury that kept him out for a month and was replaced by undrafted rookie free agent Fant, who had played only one year of college football.

While a few injuries didn’t help — Ifedi missed the first three games with a high ankle sprain, for instance — Seattle could hardly blame its OL struggles on a lack of continuity up front. Seattle’s OL missed only eight total starts due to injury and the Seahawks started five different OL combinations, stats hardly out of the ordinary.

GRADE: D. Many surely will consider that grade as too kind. But it’s worth remembering that the line is lowly paid in part so that guys such as Russell Wilson and the bulk of the defense can be. Seattle’s yards per play this season of 5.6 wasn’t far off the team record of 5.88 set in 2014 and the Seahawks again won 10 games and a playoff game, indicating that the overall plan was close to working. So any assessment of the line has to be taken in that context. Fant, for instance, was put in an insanely tough position. But the season also was a wakeup call that the Seahawks will have to think differently about the line going forward.

OFF-SEASON OBJECTIVES

Many fans are undoubtedly hoping the Seahawk can blow up the current group and start over. But Carroll sent a strong signal following the season not to expect that to happen.

“Knowing how much guys improve from one year to the next, and particularly the youngest guys improve the most,’’ he said. “We have nothing but good things to think that will take place. Guys are going to get better.’’

Still, there will undoubtedly be change. Expect Seattle to do what it can to bring in some veteran free agents — it’s considered likely that there will be some good guards available but likely not too many tackles.

Carroll, though, cautioned not to expect too much in free agency, saying “I don’t just think you can buy your way to it.’’ And while throwing money at the line seems enticing, it’s worth noting that four of the eight lowest-paid lines made the playoffs this year compared to four of the top 10 highest-paid lines.

“We’re going to work really hard in the offseason to make sure we make that spot really competitive again,’’ Carroll said. “We’re not going to rest on anything or set back like we think we got it know. We’ll continue to work and there’s opportunities of course in the draft and free agency and all of that that we’re open to and we never turn away from any of those chances.’’

The realities of the NFL, though, mean most of the same faces will be back to make another run at it next season. Only Sowell is an unrestricted free agent, meaning everyone else can return. Seattle also may consider giving an extension to Britt.

“If nothing happened, these guys are coming back,’’ Carroll said. “And they’ll get after it and they’re going to get after it and be farther along than they were.’’

NEXT: Defensive line.