It was revealed quickly Thursday that the contract offensive lineman Luke Joeckel was getting from Seattle was for one year and $8 million.
Sunday revealed further details, specifically that he will receive $7 million guaranteed, something that was a surprise to some observers.
Given that Joeckel had knee surgery in October to repair repair ACL and MCL injuries, there’d been a thought that more of the money might have been tied up in incentives, specifically for playing time. But while $1 million is in per-game rosters bonuses, Joeckel will get the rest guaranteed, standing as Seattle’s first — and so far only — acquisition during the free agent signing period. Joeckel’s salary counts $7.25 million against the salary cap, bringing Seattle’s cap number down to $18,646,699, according to OvertheCap.com, 22nd among NFL teams.
While paling in comparison to many other contracts given to free agent offensive linemen around the league the last four days, the deal given to Joeckel is the biggest investment Seattle has made in any offensive lineman since re-signing center Max Unger to a four-year extension worth up to $25 million in the summer of 2012, and the most on a per-year average the Seahawks have given to any outside free agent since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010 (and yes, Seattle wanted to give a lot more to T.J. Lang but couldn’t. For now Joeckel’s is the only contract we can discuss).
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The heftiness of the guarantee also seems to suggest the team sees him stepping right into a starting spot at left tackle where undrafted rookie free agent George Fant ended last season as a starter.
Is the one year deal just to give Fant something of a redshirt year? Or merely a hedge against Joeckel’s injury issues and a chance to see if he can also revive his career in a new setting after a disappointing four years in Jacksonville, where he failed to hold down the left tackle spot after being taken as the No. 2 overall pick in 2013?
Seahawks execs have yet to talk about the signing of Joeckel and exactly how they view it all working together — and it’s worth keeping in mind that they are likely far from done adding to the offensive line in free agency, despite losing out Sunday on Lang. The Seahawks are likely still looking to add an experienced player or two to the line, likely a tackle and one who could be an interior player.
So a complete assessment of how the Seattle offensive line will look in 2017 still has to wait a while (let alone that the Seahawks could also make additions in the draft, which is April 27-29).
The Joeckel signing and the revelation of his contract, though, did elicit some reaction from football observers.
Here’s a sampling:
From Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com
“If Joeckel had been drafted by the Jaguars in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, chances are that he would be hoping to catch on with a team for the league minimum after his rookie contract expired. Instead, because of his cachet as a player who was once drafted with the second overall pick in what looks in hindsight to be a brutally bad draft, Joeckel was able to extract $7 million in guarantees as part of a one-year, $8 million deal with the Seahawks.
“Seattle is desperate for offensive line help, but Joeckel is a reclamation project at best. He was arguably the worst left tackle in football during his two years on the left side in Jacksonville, which led the Jags to give up on Joeckel by signing Kelvin Beachum and declining the former second overall pick’s fifth-year option. Joeckel bounced inside to left guard last year for three games (with a fourth back at left tackle) and wasn’t much better there before suffering a serious knee injury, tearing his ACL, MCL, and meniscus. Joeckel’s also missed time with a broken ankle and a concussion, having missed 25 of 64 games during his four years in the league.
“Taking a flier on Joeckel would be one thing, but the Seahawks are paying Joeckel like he’s a solid guard, with his $8 million cap hit more than the rest of the Seattle offensive line combined ($7.5 million). The Seahawks clearly hope that offensive line coach Tom Cable will be able to turn around Joeckel, but even if he does, the Seahawks didn’t manage to get any future non-guaranteed years tacked onto the deal to reap future benefits if Joeckel succeeds. It’s hard to see a future where the Seahawks look back in a year and don’t feel like this was a waste of money and time.”
“Luke Joeckel was the second-overall pick four years ago, but now he’s close to being out of the league. The Seahawks are giving him one more chance on a 1-year “prove it” contract, which I typically like.
“Despite this being a “prove it” deal, I can’t give the Seahawks better than a C+ for this. It’s not like Joeckel used to be good, but got bogged down by injuries. He has never played well, so I’m wondering why he has to make $8 million in 2017. Had this been for $3-$4 million, it would’ve made a lot more sense.
“Joeckel has potential, at least, and believe it or not, but he could be an upgrade over what the Seahawks had at tackle last year. That’s how bad their situation was. Thus, I think this grade should be a C+ despite the high price.”
“The former No. 2 overall pick didn’t live up to his draft status in four seasons with the Jaguars. He dealt with injuries, but mostly just didn’t play very well and was eventually kicked inside to guard when the team signed Kelvin Beachum.
“But it’s a one-year deal that makes sense for the Seahawks and doesn’t break the bank. Even though he didn’t live up to his blind side protector promise in Jacksonville, he’s an upgrade for a Seattle offensive line that badly needs one.”