There are four “viable” veteran options for the Seahawks to bolster the tackle spot on their offensive line, according to 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton – and that includes Russell Okung. And though Okung, the former Seahawk, has not officially hit the open market yet, Clayton believes it’s just a matter of time.
“Okung’s not out there yet. March 8 is the decision on him (for the Broncos) but I think everybody anticipates they’re not going to pick up the four-year, $48 million option on him,” Clayton told “Brock and Salk” on Thursday.
Clayton puts Okung alongside three other left tackles who became available this week or may soon be available as possible considerations for Seattle. The others are Ryan Clady, a former Pro Bowler in Denver whose option wasn’t exercised by the Jets, ex-Jaguar Kelvin Beachum and Miami’s Branden Albert, who was reportedly about to be released Thursday but has yet to be.
The Seahawks dipped into the tackle market last offseason, signing veterans Bradley Sowell and J’Marcus Webb to modest contracts. Webb was released in November after making three fill-in starts at right guard while Sowell made a combined nine starts at both tackle spots and is now an unrestricted free agent. Seattle started undrafted rookie George Fant at left tackle from Week 8 on. As a former college basketball player who’s still brand new to football in general and left tackle in particular, Fant is extremely raw.
Okung served as his own agent last offseason, leaving Seattle to sign what Clayton at the time speculated could be historically bad deal with Denver. The former No. 6 overall pick spent six up-and-down seasons with Seattle, going to the Pro Bowl in 2012 but missing 24 of a possible 96 regular-season games because of injuries during that time. The Denver Post reports Okung is unlikely to accept a pay cut because of the high-demand free-agent market.
“Nobody would fit better than Okung because, remember, he knows this system, he played in this system and he was good in this system,” Clayton said. “He was a Pro Bowl-caliber guy and he really had a decent season (in 2016).”
Okung took Clady’s spot in Denver after the four-time Pro Bowler tore his ACL and missed all of the 2015 season. Brock Huard said Clady took a similar deal as Okung – basically a “one-year looksee” – with the Jets to see how much upside was left in the former first-rounder. Huard said the end product wasn’t great, especially since Clady, 30, tore his rotator cuff and was placed on Injured Reserve in November.
“What I’m hearing out of the Jets it’s, well, unfortunately not the guy he was in Denver and they are worried about the injury and, of course, he got injured again,” Huard said. “That’s not the kind of guy you’d want, I wouldn’t think.”
The Jaguars declined to pick up Beachum’s four-year option Wednesday. The 27-year-old made 15 starts for Jacksonville in 2016, a year removed from a torn left ACL.
The Dolphins were reportedly going to release Albert, 32, in a cap dump that also included veteran defensive players Mario Williams and Earl Mitchell, but now they might try to work out a trade instead. Albert, another former first-round pick, was selected to his second Pro Bowl in 2015. Clayton noted that he’s been a pretty good pass blocker and has cycled through multiple coaches during his nine-year career.
“There’s all of a sudden magically three left tackles on the street,” Clayton said before news broke that Miami had not yet released Albert. “I think you can probably snare one of these guys for basically a one-year deal at $5 million, which is pretty much what the market was for all three of these guys last year. Why not consider it? You’re not paying the $8-9 million that eats up so much cap room. They’re not coming from the strongest bargaining position and now, particularly if Russell Okung gets released before March the 8th, you have four guys that you can say, ‘Hey, we will take one of you four, which is the first one that’s going to take our type of a deal.”
While Huard said he doesn’t see Clady as someone Seattle could pencil in as a starter, he could be a good fit if the market on him is weak.
“If all of a sudden it’s late March or early April and he’s still on the market and he comes in at a dirt-cheap rate, he’s a whole lot better than J’Marcus Webb or Bradley Sowell,” Huard said. “He’s got a whole lot better resume than those guys they brought in last year on the cheap, but to think that he can come in and you’re going to count him as a difference-maker and you’re going to pencil him in as a guy that’s durable, that’s stable, that’s what he was in the past – that’s a reach.”