The Seahawks officially announced the re-signing of center Ethan Pocic on Monday, which then led to one more question — is Seattle done adding veteran free agents to its offensive line?
Probably not with just 10 offensive linemen under contract overall.
But the marquee offensive linemen went quickly when free agency opened last week, and at this point available centers aren’t necessarily an upgrade from Pocic, who last year started 14 games for Seattle after playing his first two seasons at guard and tackle.
It might not have been a coincidence that Seattle reached its deal with Pocic on Thursday just as a few other centers in his perceived ability/price range signed elsewhere, such as Nick Martin with the Raiders and Ted Karras with the Patriots.
Pocic was reported to have a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, though the exact details of his contract have not been revealed.
The signing of Pocic means Seattle has a returning starter from last year at four of its five offensive line positions, the others being left tackle Duane Brown, right tackle Brandon Shell and right guard Damien Lewis. Seattle seems happy enough with its two tackles and Lewis.
That group is rounded out by newcomer Gabe Jackson, acquired in a trade with the Raiders last week in which Seattle gave up its 2021 fifth-round draft choice. Jackson is expected to take over the left guard spot, unless the Seahawks were to flip their two guards and have Lewis go to the left side.
Seattle could feel confident going into the rest of the offseason with that group as a potential starting line, hoping to add complementary pieces to it through the draft — though that could be tricky with just three picks and only one in the first three rounds — and with what is left in free agency.
That Pocic signed a short-term, relatively inexpensive deal has led to speculation Seattle might not be done at center.
But worth remembering is that Seattle also brought back his backup from last year, Kyle Fuller, who was an exclusive rights free agent and whom the team could view as legitimate competition to Pocic for the job. Seattle also has a third center on its roster in Brad Lundblade, a practice squad member last year who has been in the league for four years with four different teams and in 2019 played in one game with the Panthers.
And according to Pro Football Focus, only one center who remains unaccounted for was rated higher than Pocic on its list of available free agents.
PFF listed nine centers among its top 250 free agents.
Pocic, who was 204th overall, was the seventh-highest-rated center. Of the six ahead of him, all but one have signed or agreed to terms other than Austin Reiter, who played last season with Kansas City. Reiter has been reported to be negotiating with Kansas City, with no indications the Seahawks have been in on him.
The two listed behind Pocic remain available — Austin Blythe of the Rams (224th overall) and Nick Easton of the Saints (238).
That Blythe played for the Rams makes him an obvious player to connect to Seattle with former Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron now the offensive coordinator for the Seahawks. Blythe also has two seasons of starting experience at right guard and could be seen as competition/depth at multiple spots.
But there has been nothing yet connecting Blythe to the Seahawks.
Wrote PFF of Blythe: “Blythe is a solid pass-blocker and can play right guard or kick inside to center, making him a worthy addition for most teams at a reasonable price.’’
Easton, meanwhile, was reported Monday to be taking trips to Cincinnati and Houston this week, again with no reports linking him to Seattle.
And before the Seahawks make any new signings, they will almost certainly have to create some cap space.
Without accounting for contracts for Pocic or free agent tight end Gerald Everett, OvertheCap.com listed Seattle on Monday as $1.4 million over. However, the Seahawks as of Monday afternoon had not yet officially announced the re-signing of running back Chris Carson, and they could be waiting until that contract is processed to make any moves.
Cap space could be created without releasing players, by turning base salary of players such as Russell Wilson or Bobby Wagner into bonus, or redoing contracts, such as Jackson, who has cap hits of $9.6 million and $9.59 million the next two years.
While Pocic’s signing gives Seattle 10 offensive linemen under contract for the 2021 season, the Seahawks also are hoping to re-sign guard Jordan Simmons, who is now an unrestricted free agent after he was not tendered. Simmons started six games last year at left guard.