JAKE AND STACY

3 centers the Seahawks could target in free agency this offseason

Jan 26, 2022, 2:49 PM
Seahawks Jason Kelce...
Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles walks off the field after defeating the Washington Football Team. (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The Seahawks may have a very different looking offensive line in 2022 than they rolled out in 2021 as three of five starters are hitting unrestricted free agency this offseason.

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Not only will Seattle have to figure out both its tackle positions as Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are set to hit the open market, but the team will also need to decide which direction to go at center. Ethan Pocic started for the Seahawks at that spot in 2020, but Kyle Fuller opened 2021 as the starting center until Pocic regained that role in Week 8. He then started there every game through the rest of the season.

Both Pocic and Fuller are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency, and former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy has made it clear that he thinks the Seahawks need a new face at that spot in 2022 in order to upgrade the center position and the offensive line as a whole.

During Four-Down Territory on Wednesday, Heaps provided three free-agent centers he thinks the Seahawks should go after this offseason.

“For me, it’s very clear,” Heaps said. “There is a top three (of free-agent centers) and then after that, the bottom falls out pretty drastically.”

Here’s a breakdown of Heaps’ three preferred choices.

No. 1: Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

If the Seahawks are going to make a splash at center, it’s hard to do better than Jason Kelce, a longtime star for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelce, 34, is a four-time first-team All-Pro – including this past season – who has played his entire 11-year career in Philadelphia. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Eagles in 2017 and also has five Pro Bowl nods. Not bad for someone who was a sixth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

“People will look at Kelce and say, ‘Hey, I doubt that he’s going to become available’ (because) he is an Eagle through and through. The people of Philly … they love themselves some Jason Kelce,'” Heaps said. “So he might be a lifer with Philly, but if he comes available on the free agent market, the Seahawks should heavily pursue Jason Kelce. He is my clear cut No. 1.”

No. 2: Ryan Jensen, Tampa Bay Buccaners

How about another center with a Super Bowl ring?

Ryan Jensen, 30, doesn’t have the same level of star power that Kelce does, but he’s been a solid, reliable starter since 2017, having started every possible game during that span between stints with the Baltimore Ravens and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jensen, a sixth-round pick by Baltimore in 2013, played sporadically during his first four NFL seasons before becoming a full-time starter in 2017. He then left the Ravens for the Buccaneers in 2018 and has been there ever since, winning a Super Bowl last season while snapping footballs to Tom Brady. Jensen also earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2021.

“I saw some criticism of him saying he didn’t do well against Aaron Donald (in the playoffs), and I don’t know if it’s worth paying premier money for somebody like that if they can’t handle Aaron Donald,” Heaps said. “If that’s the standard, no one can. There’s not a center in this league that holds down and locks down Aaron Donald on a consistent basis. I think Ryan Jensen is truly one of the better centers in this league, and he would be a huge upgrade for you and give you a great opportunity in the run game and in the passing game. He’s a legit pro that this group could really really use.”

No. 3: Brian Allen, Los Angeles Rams

The third center on Heaps’ list is someone the Seahawks have seen up close the last few years. That would be Brian Allen, a 25-year-old center who has played for the Los Angeles Rams since they drafted him in the fourth round in 2018.

After playing in a limited capacity as a rookie in 2018, Allen started 2019 as the Rams’ starting center, appearing in nine games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. That injury and a bout with COVID contributed to Allen not playing in 2020, but he started in 16 games for the Rams in 2021 and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.

“How about Brian Allen being a tremendous story for the Rams this year?” Heaps said. “Young player, only 25, having a fantastic season with the Rams. Again, it would be very surprising for me to see (Rams head coach) Sean McVay let him go, but he is a free agent going into this next year. And if he does hit free agency and is allowed to look at the open market, man, I hope the Seattle Seahawks are really, really hot on his trail and find a way to get him to Seattle.”

Something worth mentioning with Allen is that Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron came from the Rams, where he was their passing game coordinator for Allen’s first three NFL seasons. Additionally, Seattle run game coordinator Andy Dickerson, who came to Seattle with Waldron, was the Rams assistant offensive line coach, so he worked with Allen early in his career.

You can hear the full segment in the podcast from Wednesday’s second hour of Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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