DANNY ONEIL

Hawk Talk highlights: On Tom Cable and the Seahawks’ offensive line

Mar 23, 2016, 4:18 PM
Justin Britt is the leading candidate to start at center, his third position in three NFL seasons. ...
Justin Britt is the leading candidate to start at center, his third position in three NFL seasons. (AP)
(AP)

Danny O’Neil hosted a live Seahawks chat Tuesday as “Hawk Talk” continues into the offseason. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.

Tom Page asked if Tom Cable will continue to have the same level of control over offensive-line personnel that he’s had in the past and contended that the Seahawks may need to change the way they evaluate prospects at that position.

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O’Neil: I think what we’ve seen so far is that Cable may be given a wider array of prospects and options to pick from. That as opposed to getting players perceived to be better, he’s given more of a range of selections to sort through. The perception promoted by some people in the local (and even national) media is that Cable sold Pete Carroll and the rest of the franchise a bill of goods about how good this offensive line was going to be in 2015. That essentially he got the sign-off on what he wanted to do. I think that characterization is fundamentally off base. I think that Carroll and the front office made the decisions they made in not investing more in the offensive line in believing that Cable was able to develop offensive linemen. That in effect, his coaching and development could make up the difference.

Tom Page questioned the logic in the idea that Seattle could move Justin Britt back to right tackle, contending that he was “terrible” there as a rookie in 2014 and that the Seahawks moved him to left guard for that reason.

O’Neil: Well, I don’t agree with your assessment. I don’t think they moved him because he was terrible at right tackle. I think they moved him because they were so unenthralled with Alvin Bailey at left guard that they decided Britt would be a better option there even if he was moving there in the third week of training camp, not having played guard since his freshman year in college. I thought that he struggled moving inside – that he was better at right tackle than he was at left guard – and that might precipitate a move back. The fact that the two offensive-line signings were tackle-type players – though J’Marcus Webb has played some guard – makes me think that’s not the direction Seattle will go with Britt.

R. Okung asked if left tackle Russell Okung got swindled with the contract he negotiated with Denver.

O’Neil: I know everyone is saying that, and I’m not going to argue that a $5 million salary for this year – unguaranteed – is a good deal for someone I believe to be an above average left tackle in the league. I just don’t think it is that bad of a contract. Someone explain to me how this is different from Michael Bennett in 2013 signing a one-year, $5 million deal in which Bennett was praised for betting on himself.

Martin asked why Seattle didn’t re-sign Okung given the money he got from Denver.

O’Neil: I don’t know the answer to that question Yes, I do think the money seemed doable. And I don’t buy the idea that Seattle didn’t want to sign a guy to a contract stilted in favor of the team. I think it’s more likely that Okung was willing to take a pay-cut only if he went elsewhere.

Sean asked if the NFL outlawing the chop block in all forms will prompt some teams to change their blocking schemes.

O’Neil: No. A chop block is not the same as a cut block. Cut blocks are still legal. A cut block is one lineman going low on a defender. A chop block entails two linemen, one engaging the defender high and the second taking out his legs. The chop block was already illegal in almost all situations.

MK asked if the Seahawks will rework defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s contract this offseason.

O’Neil: I think so. I think there will be adjustments to his contract for 2016. The question is whether those adjustments amount to anything more than the movements Seattle did in Marshawn Lynch’s contract going into 2014.

walterisgod asked O’Neil to pick the defensive player who would most help the Seahawks if he had a career year.

O’Neil: I want to say Frank Clark. What that would mean moving forward for Seattle would be huge. I think my answer is Earl Thomas, though. Or Kam Chancellor. One of those safeties having seven to 10 interceptions would mean so much to the defense not just in production, but as a symptom of how productive and effective the defense was in forcing turnovers, which in my mind was the top shortcoming of the team last year.

Tom Page asked if Seattle has a need at safety, noting that starters Thomas and Chancellor aren’t getting any younger and that the backups “look thin.”

O’Neil: Yes. I do think there is a need at safety. Seattle has seen Chris Maragos and Jeron Johnson move on and get paid elsewhere (though Johnson is back on the market). I think Kelcie McCray is a core special-teams player. Don’t know if the Seahawks see him as a long-term starting option.

Ricky R asked about the possibility of Seattle bringing back Johnson.

O’Neil: I haven’t heard anything from him, which leads me to believe that while the Seahawks would love to have him back and give him a chance to make the team, they’re not offering much – if anything – in the way of guaranteed money.

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