Any time the Seahawks offense struggles, a finger invariably gets pointed at the oft-maligned offensive line.

So it was again in 2021 as a 7-10 season left everything up for question.

Pro Football Focus ranked Seattle’s OL 25th in its final rankings, noting that “Seattle’s offensive line just can’t find a way to get out of its rut.”

That was down from 14th in 2020 but in line with the below-average rankings Seattle’s OL has usually received from PFF during the Russell Wilson era. Other than in 2020, Seattle’s OL has never finished higher than 18th in PFF’s end-of-season rankings and has been 27th or worse four times (including in the 2013 Super Bowl title season).

Maybe predictably, coach Pete Carroll gave a different assessment of the line at the end of the year, citing the team’s revived running attack over the last six games — the Seahawks finished with an average of 5.02 yards per rush, second best in team history behind only the 2014 squad that advanced to the Super Bowl and holds the record for most yards gained in a season.

“I like the way the guys (offensive line) play,” Carroll said the week before the final game at Arizona. “And you can see, we can run the football. It’s obvious.”

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So, there may not be much change to the line in 2022.

But let’s look at that and other questions about the line as we continue our reviews of each Seahawks position group.

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Offensive line

Starters

Left tackle Duane Brown

Age: 36

Snaps played in regular season: 970

Contract situation: Is now an unrestricted free agent, but a contract adjustment he got before the 2021 season means he will count $3.5 million against the team’s cap in 2022 as part of a void year added to his deal.

Left guard Damien Lewis

Age: 24

Snaps played in regular season: 697

Contract situation: Entering third season of four-year rookie contract due a nonguaranteed $1.05 million in 2022.

Center Ethan Pocic

Age: 26

Snaps played: 601

Contract situation: Is now an unrestricted free agent but a void year added to his deal means he will count $1 million against the team’s cap in 2022.

Right guard Gabe Jackson

Age: 30

Snaps played: 932

Contract situation: Has two years left on three-year deal he signed with Seattle after he was acquired via trade last spring. Due a nonguaranteed $6 million base salary in 2022 and will count $9 million against the salary cap.

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Right tackle Brandon Shell

Age: 29

Snaps played: 551

Contract situation: Now an unrestricted free agent.

Key backups

Guard/Center Kyle Fuller

Age: 27

Snaps played: 447

Contract situation: Now an unrestricted free agent.

Right tackle Jake Curhan

Age: 23

Snaps played: 405

Contract situation: Has two years left on his undrafted rookie free agent deal, due a nonguaranteed $825,000 in 2022.

Tackle/guard Jamarco Jones

Age: 25

Snaps played: 163

Contract situation: Now an unrestricted free agent.

Guard Phil Haynes

Age: 26

Snaps played: 136

Contract situation: Now a restricted free agent.

Others on roster

Also under contract for the 2022 season are tackle Stone Forsythe, center Dakoda Shepley, tackle Greg Eiland and guard Pier-Olivier Lestage.

2021 review

Remember when the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl for the first time in 2005 and had the same starting offensive line for every game but one because they decided to rest Walter Jones for the regular-season finale?

It’s been a while since the Seahawks have had that kind of continuity up front, as 2021 proved anew. Seattle started nine different offensive line combinations and none got more than four starts together — the opening-day group of Brown, Lewis, Fuller, Jackson and Shell.

The Seahawks figured Pocic would be the opening-day starting center, but injuries in camp handed that job to Fuller.

But once Pocic was healthy, and with the offense struggling, he took the center spot over after eight games.

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Injuries continued to mean some lineup shuffling. But the line finally seemed to find itself down the stretch. Pocic ranked 16th by Pro Football Focus of 40 centers at the end of the year — Fuller was 40th. Pocic’s return — and what was considered an improvement in presnap communication — seemed to most help Brown, who gave up seven sacks in the first nine games of the season but allowed just one after.

And Haynes and Curhan each showed some real promise in a few late-season starts, potentially giving the Seahawks some unexpected options as they build their 2022 line.

The perception that the Seahawks were better run blocking than pass blocking, though, was born out in their PFF grades. Seattle finished 17th in team run blocking, 26th in pass blocking.

2022 preview

Of the nine offensive linemen who played the most snaps in 2021 five are now unrestricted free agents and another is restricted. Meaning, Seattle has some work to do if it really wants to keep the line together — or then maybe an even harder task if it needs to embark on a heavy makeover.

The big question is what to do with Brown. He wanted an extension before the season but Seattle wanted him to play out the year and then talk. He played well enough — and just as importantly, stayed healthy, playing the most snaps of any offensive player — to reiterate that he’s Seattle’s best option at left tackle even turning 37 in August.

PFF has ranked Brown the 32nd best overall free agent available and estimated a two-year deal worth $10 million. And while Brown said he’d take a one-year contract, a two-year deal — but with no guaranteed money beyond 2022 — might make the most sense from a cap perspective.

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Seattle might be able to bring back Shell cheaply enough, but it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks might also view Curhan as a legit option to take over as the starter.

The guards are set to return. But center is also a question with Pocic and Fuller each free agents.

There are some big-name veterans who will be free agents, notably Ryan Jensen of Tampa Bay, Jason Kelce of Philadelphia and Brian Allen of the Rams. But none figure to come cheaply (PFF estimates Jensen at $10 million a year).

Many Seahawks fans still lament that the Seahawks passed on drafting center Creed Humphrey of Oklahoma — he went 63rd, seven picks after Seattle took Dee Eskridge.

The best center in the draft this year is Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum but he almost certainly won’t be available at pick 41.

Given Carroll’s enthusiasm for how the line played at the end of the season, and other salary-cap issues, what’s more likely is Seattle’s line looking a lot the same in 2022.

Up next: Defensive line.