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Seahawks trying to fill roster holes -- what about the offensive line?

Michael Bowie plays right tackle at St. Louis on Oct. 28, 2013
Michael Bowie plays right tackle at St. Louis on Oct. 28, 2013
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As the Seahawks await an answer from free-agent defensive end Jared Allen, they continue to keep an eye out for defensive linemen and wide receivers to fill voids left by the departures of Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Clinton McDonald, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate.

But what about the holes in the offensive line?

They let two of their top four vets go – wanting to improve on Paul McQuistan (unsigned) and go cheaper than Breno Giacomini (signed with the Jets for $18 million over four years).

Lemuel Jeanpierre, who came back on a one-year deal, is their only experienced backup, and they seemingly need some veteran help up front to go with the young players they are developing and the rookie(s) they figure to draft.

With second-year player Michael Bowie their only decent option at right tackle, the Hawks could use a veteran to help push him.

David Stewart, a longtime starter for Tennessee, could be an option if he is healthy. The Titans released the 31-year-old with a "failed physical" designation on March 12.

Tyson Clabo, a longtime right tackle for Atlanta who played in Miami last season, is free again. The 32-year-old started 15 games last season and is familiar with the Hawks' zone-blocking scheme from his time in Atlanta. He was the NFL's top right tackle from 2010 to 2012, per Pro Football Focus.

Other cheap tackles the Hawks could check into as backups include Eben Britton (Chicago), Jonathan Scott (Chicago) and J'Marcus Webb (Minnesota).

The Hawks are a little better off at guard, with Alvin Bailey and Greg Van Roten on the roster to push James Carpenter, but the bottom line is: They need some more talent up front.

The Seahawks won the Super Bowl last season despite using seven starting combinations. It was just a continuation of the same O-line theme we have seen for years in Seattle. The Hawks used five line combos in 2012, six in 2011 and 10 in 2010. That's an average of seven combinations per year under Pete Carroll.

In fact, the last time the Seahawks started the same five guys all season was 2007.

What's amazing is Carroll's Hawks have won despite the constant churn up front. But the offense has suffered because of it, and anyone who thinks the Hawks prefer to rotate their linemen like that probably just got punched by Tom Cable (or is about to be). They quite obviously would rather use the same five starters and actually develop some kind of offensive chemistry, rhythm and consistency.

They tried to set it up with the 2010 and 2011 drafts, adding left tackle Russell Okung in 2010 and projected right tackle Carpenter and right guard John Moffitt in 2011. But Okung has played only one full season – he missed eight games last season with a toe injury. Carpenter busted at tackle and has been up and down at left guard amid injuries and inconsistency. Moffitt turned out to be a bad pick; he was replaced by converted defensive lineman J.R. Sweezy, then decided he didn't want to play anymore, then got arrested for allegedly possessing drugs recently.

The Hawks wanted to draft a lineman in the second round last year to beef up this unit, but other teams snatched linemen up early, so Seattle used the seventh round to add three.

Bowie and Jared Smith – another conversion project -- are still on the team, and undrafted rookie Bailey has shown promise as well. But the Hawks definitely need to upgrade the talent up front.

They almost certainly will draft at least one lineman – perhaps starting with the last pick in the first round.

Stanford's David Yankey could probably oust Carpenter at left guard immediately, and the Hawks could look at tackles such as Morgan Moses (Virginia), Jack Mewhort (Ohio State) and Joel Bitonio (Nevada).

They might wait to see how the draft plays out before possibly adding a veteran free agent.

However, they do it, you can expect the Seahawks to improve their offensive line this offseason.


The prevailing opinion is that Okung will try to join the $10 million tackle club whenever extension talks get going.

Five other tackles average $10 million a year (per, and Okung – who made the Pro Bowl in 2012 – figures to try to hit eight figures, too.

But is he really worth it?

He has played in just 45 of 64 possible games in his first four seasons – a far cry from the iron man that predecessor Walter Jones was (missed eight games in his first 11 seasons).

It makes some sense that the Hawks might try to extend Okung – who is signed through 2015 -- this year to lower his $11.24 million cap hit, but the Hawks are in good cap shape for 2014 and it probably makes more sense to wait and see whether he can stay healthy next season.

If he doesn't, the Hawks might just decide to develop a new left tackle over the next two years and let Okung go in 2016.

If he does stay healthy and makes the Pro Bowl again, he will have a case for his $10 million.


LT: Okung, Bailey, Hauptmann

LG: Carpenter, Van Roten

C: Unger, Jeanpierre

RG: Sweezy, Smith

RT: Bowie

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