The Seahawks are reportedly signing former Jaguars offensive lineman Luke Joeckel to a one-year deal worth $8 million, a significant move for Seattle at the outset of free agency.
Additionally, the Seahawks are reportedly set to get a free-agent visit from former Packers guard T.J. Lang, another sign that Seattle is being aggressive in trying to beef up its biggest area of need.
The Seahawks have not announced nor confirmed the move with Joeckel, 25. He played left tackle for his first three seasons before moving to left guard last year, when he played in only four games because of a knee injury that required surgery. Jacksonville previously declined to pick up the fifth-year option it had on the contract Joeckel signed as the second overall pick out of Texas A&M in 2013.
The Seahawks like their offensive linemen to be versatile, but they’re presumably signing him to play tackle. It’s a bigger need for Seattle than guard, and tackle is his preferred position, according to this ESPN.com story from last year. The money the Seahawks will reportedly pay Joeckel further suggests that he’s coming to Seattle to play tackle, where the Seahawks are in need of some blue-chip talent after finishing last season with undrafted rookie George Fant as the starter on the left side opposite Garry Gilliam. Bradley Sowell, who took his turn on both sides, is an unrestricted free agent while Seattle has given Gilliam the low tender as a restricted free agent.
That Joeckel is coming off a serious knee injury is likely a reason his deal is for one year. He had surgery in October to repair a torn ACL plus damage to his MCL and lateral meniscus.
Tom Pelissero of USA Today and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Joeckel’s deal is for $8 million. That’s a significant amount of money for a team that fielded the least expensive offensive line in the NFL last season. In fact, in terms of cap dollars, it’s more than what the Seahawks committed to their entire offensive line in 2016. Even with only four seasons in the league, Joeckel would also be the most experienced of any Seahawks offensive linemen, which speaks to how young Seattle has gone at that position while drafting six players there over the last two years.
That the Seahawks are now turning to free agency to find a higher-priced veteran upgrade (or two) to their offensive line is an understandable departure from their recent approach and surely a welcomed one to many who have watched that group struggle to protect Russell Wilson. This draft is considered relatively weak at that position and the Seahawks don’t pick until No. 26 in the first round, by which point the top prospects will have likely been chosen.
Lang, 29, was a Pro Bowler last season, which could set him up for a raise from the $5.2 million average of his last contract with Green Bay. He’s played right guard the last four years and both left guard and right tackle before that. Germain Ifedi had an up-and-down rookie season at right guard while Mark Glowinski started for the first time at left guard.
Lang is reportedly visiting Detroit first.