The names of a couple of veteran offensive linemen with experience at two different spots surfaced as being connected with the Seahawks in free agency on Tuesday.
As the free agent negotiating period began Tuesday, the Seahawks were almost immediately linked with two veteran offensive linemen — Brian Schwenke of the Tennessee Titans and D.J. Fluker of the San Diego Chargers.
Each has experience at two positions on the line — Schwenke has been a center and guard and Fluker a tackle and guard — and it’s that ability to play multiple spots that could be most intriguing for a Seattle team that would like to add experience up front but may not have the financial ability to reel in one of the big-name free agents available.
That both also got all of their starts last season at guard fits with what has become an increasing conventional wisdom that Seattle would target veterans in free agency to beef up the middle of the offensive line and provide depth and competition and possibly options for moving other players, as well.
Schwenke, who played at Cal, has 28 starts for Tennessee the last four seasons. All but three came at center, where Seattle appears set with Justin Britt, who moved there last season in his third year with the team and started 15 games.
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But the three games Schwenke started at left guard came last season, and it’s possible it’s those games that has Seattle particularly intrigued. In the three games Schwenke started at guard, the Titans scored 118 points against Jacksonville, the Chargers and Green Bay, the latter a 47-25 win against the Packers.
Schwenke started those games in place of the injured Quinton Spain, who returned to the starting lineup after missing those contests with Schwenke moving back to the bench as a reserve for the rest of the season.
Schwenke, who will turn 26 on March 22, was originally a fourth-round pick of the Titans and is becoming an unrestricted free agent after playing out his rookie contract.
He is represented by Relativity Sports, the same firm that also represents the likes of current Seahawk Michael Bennett and former Seahawk Marshawn Lynch.
Fluker, a first-round pick of the Chargers out of Alabama in 2013, played left tackle and right tackle his first two seasons before moving to right guard, where he started 28 games the last two years, including all 16 last season.
Fluker became a free agent when the Chargers declined to pick up an option on his contract for 2017 for $8.821 million on Tuesday.
That he can play both guard and tackle makes him the kind of experienced and versatile veteran that the Seahawks are known to be targeting in free agency.
With roughly $25 million in cap space, Seattle has money to make some moves, but not enough to necessarily get involved in some of the higher bidding wars.
Seattle GM John Schneider said last week at the NFL Combine that the felt the offensive line was too young last season, and picking up a couple of vets makes sense as a way to add experience, depth and competition.
With the news that the Seahawks have submitted a qualifying offer to right tackle Garry Gilliam, Seattle can return its entire starting line from the end of last season — Britt, Gilliam, guards Germain Ifedi and Mark Glowinski and left tackle George Fant.
But that’s a line that even including last season has just a combined eight years of starting experience, leading to Schneider’s desire to want to add experience this year.
And while Seattle has expressed optimism about the future of its young line, adding veterans could also mean some additional options for assembling the best five in 2017.
Ifedi, for instance, was a right tackle his final two years at Texas A&M and while coaches have been steadfast in saying they see him as a guard for now, as the move of Britt and others the last few years shows, the team is always open to experimenting with different combinations. The goal this off-season is to add as many good pieces as possible and then put it all together later.