STACY ROST

Seahawks free agents: Could Seattle let Ifedi walk and make Fant right tackle?

Feb 21, 2020, 12:43 PM
Seahawks lineman George Fant...
George Fant has played a hybrid tackle/tight end role for the Seahawks in recent years. (AP)
(AP)

How can the Seahawks get back to a Super Bowl in 2020?

Wyman: L.J. Collier could emerge as a No. 2 pass rusher for Seahawks

That’s the question Tom Wassell, Jake Heaps and I will be asking on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy over the next few months as we go through our Seahawks “offseason project” series, which will be broken up into four phases. On Tuesday, we looked at receiver Josh Gordon and left guard Mike Iupati.

You can hear every new segment of this series at 2 p.m. every day on Tom, Jake and Stacy. Here’s a look at what you need to know about Gordon and Iupati and the chances of them returning to Seattle in 2020.

Seahawks free agents

George Fant

Fant originally signed with Seattle as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Western Kentucky in 2016. By May 2017, the Seahawks seemed set on Fant as their starting left tackle, but a catastrophic ACL injury in August cost Fant his season and ultimately his starting job. Months later, the Seahawks acquired Duane Brown in a trade with the Houston Texans, who quickly established himself as Seattle’s best lineman and remains under contract through 2021.

Seattle’s trade for Brown left Fant out of a left tackle role, but in two years he’s managed to carve out a new one as a tackle/tight end hybrid. In 2019, Fant appeared in 42% of all offensive snaps, including a couple starts in place of an injured Brown. Having an extra blocker has been a boon for Pete Carroll and Brian Schottenheimer’s run-first offense. Fant wouldn’t carry a big cap hit were he to re-sign with the Seahawks in 2020, but there’s a chance he could test the market for a more prominent – and lucrative – role as a starting left tackle with another team.

One option for Seattle? According to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps, the Seahawks could opt to bring Fant back as their right tackle and let the second free agent on this list, Germain Ifedi, walk in free agency. Fant doesn’t have much recent experience at right tackle – Ifedi was the only player outside of Russell Wilson to play every offensive snap for Seattle in 2019 – but could be a promising replacement for a team that hopes to retain as much of its own offensive line talent as possible.

Germain Ifedi

Being a first-round pick is an honor any player would want, but that distinction carries its share of downsides – chief among them are sky-high expectations.

The Seahawks selected Ifedi 31st overall in 2016 out of Texas A&M, and while he’s remained a durable player, he’s faced his shared of criticism. That criticism was loudest in 2017 when Ifedi led the team with 16 penalties, nine of which were pre-snap penalties. And while he hasn’t reached that high of a single-season total since then, he still led the team with 10 in 2018 and 13 in 2019.

The Seahawks declined Ifedi’s fifth-year option tied to his rookie contract in May, ensuring he would hit free agency barring an early extension.

Carroll saw improvement in Ifedi’s performance in both 2018 and 2019, though, calling last season “the best (Ifedi) has ever played.” Other teams may very well take note in what could quickly become a competitive – and pricey – free-agent market for offensive linemen. A possible sign of things to come grabbed headlines earlier this week when 26-year-old tackle D.J. Humphries, who signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Stacy Rost on Twitter.

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Previously in the series: WR, OG | TE, LB | RBs

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Seahawks free agents: Could Seattle let Ifedi walk and make Fant right tackle?