Hawk Talk highlights: What will the Seahawks do at center?

Feb 17, 2016, 11:04 AM

Patrick Lewis started nine games last season but was scheduled to make $1.671 million as a backup. ...

Patrick Lewis started nine games last season but was scheduled to make $1.671 million as a backup. (AP)


LISTEN: Seahawks center Drew Nowak talks about converting from defense to center on the O-Line

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

Joe asked how the Seahawks can fix the interior of their offensive line.

O’Neil: It’s got to start at center, in my opinion. I think that Mark Glowinski will start next year, and make a huge improvement. I don’t have a feel for how much Seattle wants J.R. Sweezy back. I would be surprised if Justin Britt is playing left guard again next season.

Tom Page said center is among the deeper positions in this year’s draft and that the Seahawks could take someone like Michigan’s Graham Glasgow between the third and fifth rounds “and be set for the future.”

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O’Neil: Here would be the problem with that: Are you going to wait for a rookie to come around at that position? Not only that, but a rookie you pick in the third round can’t be expected to plug and play. I think the communication and pre-snap reads from the center specifically played a significant role in Seattle’s difficult start along the line. Patrick Lewis – as solid as he may be in line calls – is simply too small to start at the position against a top defensive line. If you’re going into this season with Drew Nowak, Kristjan Sokoli and a third-round draft pick, I think the team is setting itself up for a similar work-in-progress feel to the line.

Evil Penguin asked whether left tackle Russell Okung is any more or less likely to return to Seattle considering he’s acting as his own agent in contract negotiations.

O’Neil: I don’t know. I think you can rationally see it both ways. The Okung without an agent ratcheting up every last bit of leverage would be more inclined to stay put. On the flip side, I think that Okung being a player and hearing how the team justifies its offer might be tough. After all, other teams that come calling get to say, “Russell, we love you and would want to pay you more, but we just can’t. You know the salary cap and all.” Seattle can’t use that rationale because Okung knows and has seen how many of his teammates got extensions.

Belfasthawk asked if the Seahawks may regret not picking up linebacker Bruce Irvin’s $7.8 million option for 2016 considering they’ll likely have to replace his production as a pass-rusher when he leaves in free agency.

O’Neil: I don’t think they regret it. I don’t think they were going to let Irvin take up that large of a footprint on a single year of the cap. If they wanted him, they would have looked at an extension. Now, the difficulty there is that the option year is the starting point for the salary on any extension for him.

Belfasthawk asked whether free-agent defensive tackles Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin will both be back next season.

O’Neil: My opinion: I think Seattle would love them both back, but Rubin is the priority. That doesn’t mean Seattle will sign him. I don’t see them going higher than $4 million a year for an interior lineman. The question with Mebane depends entirely upon the market. Does he get a multi-year offer at more than $2 million per year? If he does, I would expect him to be gone.

Zorn on the 4th of July asked if the Seahawks would be any more likely to re-sign any of their unrestricted free agents if the salary cap increases by $12 million as was recently projected.

O’Neil: Not necessarily. The thing with a cap increase is that all teams get that money. If anything, it makes it tougher for a team to retain a free agent because while the Seahawks have $12 million more in spending room, so do 31 other teams who now have that money to throw at players from more successful teams.

MmmYesQuite asked for O’Neil’s take on free-agent pass-rusher Aldon Smith and the possibility of him ending up with the Seahawks, which Brock Huard suggested earlier this month.

O’Neil: My take is that substance abuse is a brutally sad thing for a 20-something’s future. Could the Seahawks sign him to a low-risk deal with the hope that he’s turned it around and be prepared to cut him if it doesn’t work? Sure. They could. I hope the best for him. Sincerely. But if you’re asking me if I think that’s a long-term answer or someone you should invest a lot of hope or expectation in, my answer is no.

Martin asked if the Seahawks’ scouting department has “slipped just a little” in recent seasons, noting how Seattle’s picks have been more hit-and-miss compared to the team’s first two drafts.

O’Neil: Two things have happened: First, they have traded more picks recently and haven’t had the top-end contribution when they were drafting earlier. The second thing is that it’s harder for those players to get a spot and playing time because the team is better. But I would agree that there haven’t been as many home-run steals. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Russell Wilson are probably three of the top five or six draft picks in this franchise’s history in the value the team got for the round they were picked in. So I would agree that the drafts haven’t been as successful, but I don’t think it means that the scouting department has slipped.

Andrew B asked if the Seahawks would be better served using their first-round picks as opposed to trading them, which they’ve done in each of the last three years.

O’Neil: No. I actually think that the way the contracts are currently structured (with a fifth-year option) makes it better to draft early in the second round than late in the first. The fifth-year option makes it tougher to sign an extension with that player. Any negotiation has to start with what that fifth-year option number would be. Otherwise, the agent just says, “No thanks, we’ll take the fifth-year-option salary and talk to you again after that.”

Tom Page asked if there would be any significance to coach Pete Carroll entering the final year of his contract.

O’Neil: Yes. There would be. That’s very unusual, and it would point to the fact that he wants to evaluate his options at the end of the year. I won’t be the one sounding the alarm bells and saying he might move to Los Angeles. I don’t think he’ll coach another NFL team after Seattle, but how long he wants to do this – especially with an approach that’s custom-made for corporate speaking events – will be a question.

Rymong asked about the ceiling for wide receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett.

O’Neil: Great question. I don’t know if we can put a number on that yet. Coming into the year, I would’ve said the hope is that he could be someone along the lines of Eddie Royal as a receiver in addition to being an elite kick returner. His ceiling as a receiver is much higher than Royal’s.

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Hawk Talk highlights: What will the Seahawks do at center?