The quick acclimation to the NFL of rookie offensive tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas was one of the highlights of the Seahawks 2022 season. It’s also one of the biggest reasons for hope moving forward.
Those two helped key a line that allowed Seattle to rank 13th in total offense at 351.1 yards per game in 2022 and ninth in points at 23.9.
And third-year player Damien Lewis had a strong season in his second year playing left guard after beginning his career on the right side.
But as another offseason commences, the Seahawks can be sure to make some moves to try improving a line that showed in its playoff loss to the 49ers, and a few other games down the stretch, that it remains a work in progress.
As we continue our postseason overviews of the Seahawks position groups, let’s look more closely at the offensive line.
Center Austin Blythe
Snaps played in regular season: 1,044
Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent after playing last year on a one-year deal worth $4 million.
Left guard Damien Lewis
Snaps played in regular season: 1,005
Contract situation: Entering last year of four-year rookie contract and due to make a base salary of $2.993 million in 2023.
Right guard Gabe Jackson
Snaps played in regular season: 670
Contract situation: Has one year left on contract and is due to make $6.5 million. However, none of that is guaranteed.
Left tackle Charles Cross
Snaps played in regular season: 1,091
Contract situation: Has three years left on rookie deal and is due to make $1.6 million in base salary in 2023.
Right tackle Abraham Lucas
Snaps played in regular season: 978
Contract situation: Has three years left on rookie deal and is due to make $950,076 in base salary in 2023.
Guard Phil Haynes
Snaps played in regular season: 485
Contract situation: Unrestricted free agent after playing last year for $2.54 million.
Tackle Stone Forsythe
Snaps played in regular season: 122
Contract situation: Entering third year of four-year rookie deal and is due to make $940,000.
Guard/center Kyle Fuller
Snaps played in regular season: 51
Contract situation: Now an unrestricted free agent after making $1.185 million last year.
Guard/tackle Jake Curhan
Snaps played in regular season: 34
Contract situation: Entering last season of his three-year undrafted rookie free agent deal and is due to make $940,000.
Others on roster: C Joey Hunt, G/T Greg Eiland, T Jalen McKenzie.
As noted, the Seahawks got immediate payoff from the heavy draft investment in Cross (ninth overall pick in 2022) and Lucas (72nd). Cross played all but two snaps, while Lucas started all but one game.
Pro Football Focus said each turned in pass-blocking grades of at least “an average starter level all season,” which may not sound like much, but for rookies who had to go up against a pretty consistent group of good pass rushers, that was a good start to their careers. For what it’s worth, PFF rated Lucas 40th of 84 tackles and Cross 57th.
Lewis started the final 17 games (including the playoff) after missing the opener against Denver. Via PFF, he allowed just 19 pressures all season, had the best run-blocking grade of the group and ranked 11th out of 78 guards.
Blythe started every game at center and was lauded for his communication and leadership. But he ranked 35th out of 38 centers via PFF.
Jackson and Haynes split right-guard duties (with Haynes starting the Denver game at left guard as well) and ranked 56th (Haynes) and 60th (Jackson) at guard.
But add it up, and PFF was relatively unimpressed by Seattle’s OL overall, rating it 27th out of 32 to end the year and writing: “The Seahawks’ line placed dead last in the PFF offensive line rankings (to begin the season) before climbing as high as 11th only to collapse down the stretch.”
While that may seem harsh given the progress of Cross and Lucas, Seattle’s inconsistency running the ball as desired against some of the better defenses showed there’s work that remains.
That seemed especially true during a late-season, five-game stretch when the Seahawks didn’t rush for more than 90 yards in any game while losing four times.
Rushing for 198 and 197 yards against the Jets and Rams to end the regular season showed lots of promise for the future.
But being held to 76 yards on 21 carries by running backs in the playoff loss to the 49ers showed again that the job of remaking the front is not finished.
The tackle spots are set with Cross and Lucas, as well as with backups Forsythe and Curhan remaining under contract.
And with Lewis under contract for another year — and you wonder if the Seahawks would look to extend him — that means one guard spot is also set.
But Seattle could examine its options with Jackson, meaning the Seahawks could save $6.5 million against the cap if he is released.
Seattle could likely re-sign Haynes for less and see if he could take over that spot. But a draft pick or signing there also seems likely.
If Seattle wants to make a free-agency splash, there are some potentially good right-guard options available, led by Philly’s Isaac Seumalo, Tennessee’s Nate Davis and Arizona’s Will Hernandez.
And Seattle might look even more closely at adding competition at center. Many Seahawks draftniks have already begun to wonder if Seattle could be tempted to take Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz, who has been regarded as one of the standouts of Senior Bowl practices this week.
There don’t appear to be as many potentially viable free-agent options at center, but one possibility if Seattle wanted to go down that road is Connor McGovern of the Jets, who PFF ranked 13th among all centers this year.
Up next: Defensive line
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