Denver's trade Saturday of Ryan Clady to the New York Jets takes away what had been regarded as one of the last possible veteran options for the Seahawks to add at left tackle this off-season.
It was probably wishful thinking all along to think the Seahawks had a real shot at landing left tackle Ryan Clady, a thought that also assumes the organization was as interested in him as fans and media appeared to be.
And with Ferguson retired and Clady now heading east to take his place, the list of potential difference-making veteran left tackles available is pretty much erased. Some have wondered if Baltimore’s Eugene Monroe, due for an $8.7 million cap hit in 2016, might be a post-June 1 cut. But for now, Monroe remains a Raven.
And that means the Seahawks appear to be set to go with Garry Gilliam and Bradley Sowell as their veteran combatants at left tackle, and then possibly — if not almost certainly — adding to the competition in the draft.
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Seattle picks No. 26 and could well look to add a left tackle (here’s a good recap of left tackles that could have been options for the Jets — just replace Jets with Seahawks and it works just as well).
But the draft is obviously unpredictable and what we know for sure for now is that the Seahawks have Gilliam and Sowell on the roster to compete to replace Russell Okung, whose signing with Denver helped lead to the Broncos making Clady available to the Jets. Denver was willing to move Clady due to a contract that calls for cap hits of $10.1 million and $10.6 million the next two years and with Okung now in the fold. Denver also wanted to move salary to potentially add quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
That the Broncos were known interested in moving Clady, a former Boise State star who has made four Pro Bowls but has battled injuries two of the last three years including missing all of 2015 with an ACL tear, had led to speculation that Seattle might be a potential next landing spot.
But that’s now out the window leaving Seattle to go at left tackle with — for now — Gilliam, who is making the switch from right tackle to left (and has been active on social media lately about the preparations he is making to adjust) and Sowell, who was signed as free agent after spending the last three seasons with the Cardinals, for whom he started 12 games at left tackle in 2013 before being resigned to a reserve role the last two years.
The Seahawks were only going to be able to get Clady if he had been released, given the salary cap hits of $10.1 million and $10.6 million the next two years. Clady is redoing his contract now that he has been traded, a contract that includes just $3 million guaranteed with a team option for the 2017 season.
But Seattle GM John Schneider had given a strong hint at the NFL league meetings last month not to expect the Seahawks to do much more that would add new salary.
“Where we are at right now (salary cap-wise) we can’t be doing anything,’’ he said. “We just have to be very responsible.’’
All of which might also make it worth reviewing what Schneider said then about what he liked of Gilliam and Sowell at left tackle.
“He’s a heck of an athlete,’’ Schneider said of Gilliam. “He’s played there in college, too, and he’s just such a good athlete. He can play wherever you want. He can play tight end, you have seen him catch the ball. He’s extremely talented, as is Sowell. Sowell is very quick and athletic and again very, very confident in his abilities.’’
The draft could well change the dynamic. But Saturday’s news indicates even further that the draft could well be the only remaining option for the Seahawks to add much to their offensive line this off-season.