Guard J.R. Sweezy checks in at No. 7 in our countdown of the Seahawk players who can be unrestricted free agents beginning March 9.
As our countdown of Seahawks’ free-agents-to-be continues, we are also starting to get into the biggest name players — from here on out it’s all players who are starters or essentially play starting roles.
Next on our list is right guard J.R. Sweezy, a starter the last four years whose initial rookie contract runs out March 9. Sweezy is one of two starting offensive linemen set to be unrestricted free agents, left tackle Russell Okung being the other.
Right Guard J.R. Sweezy
2015 salary: $1.542 million in the final year of a four-year, $2.156 million deal that was his slotted contract after being taken in the seventh round of the 2012 draft.
Role with Seahawks in 2015: Sweezy started 15 regular season games and two in the playoffs at right guard, playing 1,005 snaps.
Free agent outlook: There has been an increasing thought as free agency nears that the Seahawks will do what they can to retain Sweezy, knowing Okung will be much harder to keep.
Re-signing Sweezy would allow Seattle to return four of five offensive line starters from last year, and set up a possible starting line heading into camp of Garry Gilliam at left tackle (moving from RT), Justin Britt back to right tackle, and inserting Mark Glowinski at the other guard spot opposite Sweezy, along with Patrick Lewis at center.
Coach Pete Carroll gave a hint about the team’s potential plan for stability at the combine when he said he prefers to look at how the line played in the second half of the season rather than the first when assessing the season.
“We’re looking at it like what happened to us and how we dealt with our situation in the first half of the season and how we transitioned, because we really did shift,’’ Carroll said. “And after the bye we improved tremendously.
“Our numbers flip-flopped in terms of the pressures and sacks and things like that. We saw the productivity of our passing game just really moved. We saw (receiver) Doug (Baldwin) come to light and all of Russell’s numbers were crazy. That’s all part of that transition. We’ve moved through that. But we still have issues. We have issues now going into free agency this year, so we’ll see how that all winds up. But hopefully we’ve made some strides that we can start at a better level next season and not have to take so long to get going.’’
Sweezy will also be much cheaper to keep than Okung. A general thought is that Sweezy is likely to command maybe $4 million or so, which might be more than Seattle optimally wants to pay but a number they might be willing to do depending on how other things develop.
Pro Football Focus, though, had an interesting take on Sweezy this week, listing him as one of six free agents it expects will get overpaid.
Wrote PFF: “At times, Sweezy will make some of the best blocks you’ll ever see. But playing guard in the NFL is about consistency more than the highlight reel pancakes. Sweezy has simply been extremely erratic, especially in pass protections, where he’s been 41st and 46th among starters in pass-blocking efficiency the past two seasons. Someone figures to pay this fringe-starter like a quality one.’’
One team that might be interested? The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have money to burn and a sudden need at after releasing Zane Beadles, freeing up $5.5 million in cap space, and also have a coach in Gus Bradley who knows Sweezy well.