Walter Jones: Seahawks’ Brown could be remembered as an all-time great LT
When you make a list of the best Seahawks to ever play, former left tackle Walter Jones is usually near the top.
“Big Walt” played his entire 13-year career with the Seahawks, and not only is his No. 71 retired, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014 and he was named one of the NFL’s best 100 players in the 100-year history of the league.
Today I got my #NFLTop100 jacket. I can’t help but be so overwhelmed with emotion and joy. To all of you who’ve helped me become this version of me, thank you.
— WALTER JONES (@BigWalt71) February 1, 2020
Jones is football royalty in the Pacific Northwest, and seemingly everyone wants to know his take on all things Seahawks. He joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore and talked a lot about his time with the franchise, as well as what the offensive line looks like at the moment and what the team should do going forward with free agency.
One player that isn’t going anywhere is current left tackle Duane Brown, who just finished his 13th season in the NFL.
Brown is arguably the best left tackle the Seahawks have had since Jones retired in 2007 – though Russell Okung was also a Pro Bowl player in Seattle – and Jones thinks the world of what Brown has done during his career, especially in Seattle.
“He definitely is on that path, man,” Jones told Dave Wyman when asked if Brown has a chance to join Jones in the discussion of best left tackles to play in the NFL. “I think he’s still playing at a very high level. He always asks me the things that I did when I was playing to keep me playing for a long time.”
The Seahawks acquired Brown from the Houston Texans during the 2017 season and he has been a stabilizing force for the offense. Jones thinks Brown deserves more credit for how well he performed with Seattle after spending the first nine-plus seasons of his career in Houston.
“For him to come to Seattle and become the leader he has become on this team (was great),” Jones said. “I thought his first year he was kind of trying to find his way. He wanted to come out here and prove himself and then the second year you kind of saw that this offensive line played a lot better and that came from him not speaking, but going out there and playing on the football field and that’s what he did, and those guys will follow him and you kind of saw that this line started to play a lot better once he started showing those guys that this is the way that you have to play the offensive line position.”
Bob Stelton wanted to know if the Seahawks’ offensive line was seen as “problematic” going forward, as the line wasn’t as good in 2019 as it was in 2018.
“I don’t think it’s problematic,” Jones said. “I think a lot of stuff happened when the running backs got hurt (late in the season).”
The Seahawks have some big decisions to make in the offseason in regards to the offensive line, as right tackle Germain Ifedi, left guard Mike Iupati and backup tackle/sixth blocker George Fant are all unrestricted free agents. Additionally, center Justin Britt and right guard D.J. Fluker are entering the final years of their contracts and could be cut to save cap space.
Jones thinks that continuity on the line in 2020 will be important.
“I think what (offensive line coach) Mike Solari has done with these guys is awesome, so I think if you try to keep these guys together, I think you’re just going to bond those guys together because if you keep guys together, you can see that the development is going to keep growing,” Jones said. “(Quarterback Russell Wilson) is going to feel safer with these guys and now these guys can build a bond where they can start talking without even saying anything.”
Ifedi is an interesting player to look at as far as re-signing because he has improved overall since his first-round selection in 2016, but he’s never lived up to that draft status. It’s believed he’ll get a big contract in free agency because he’s young and durable, but should the Seahawks try and get him back?
“I think at this point now, they didn’t pick up his (fifth-year option) last year, so I think they’re going to set a price and then let him go out there and test the market,” Jones said. “I think any time a guy can get a chance to test the market, that’s what they want to do. I think any guy wants to see what they’re worth.”
As far as the offensive line goes, Jones thinks bringing Fant back is most important for 2020 and beyond.
“George Fant has done a lot here … I think he had an opportunity to learn a lot from a great guy in Duane Brown, so I think that’s one guy you’ve got to try and get back,” Jones said. “I’m fearful for him because I know once he goes out there and tests the market he’s got enough tape on film, they had him playing (as) an extra blocking tight end and then there was a couple of games where Duane missed and he got an opportunity to go out there and get stuff on film in tough situations.”
Jones also talked about being named to the NFL’s top-100 list, his former teammate Steve Hutchinson getting elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, playing with Hall of Fame defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy and much more in his interview with Bob, Dave and Moore.
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