Thoughts on the Seahawks’ offensive line

The Seattle Seahawks shopped Sean Locklear in trade talks, but coach Pete Carroll told reporters Friday that the veteran right tackle will stay with the team this season, according to Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune.

Stacy Andrews might fit into Seattle’s plans at right tackle.

Locklear and his $5.45 million salary appeared expendable after the Seahawks acquired Stacy Andrews from the Philadelphia Eagles. Locklear’s salary becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster for Week 1, a reflection of his status as a vested veteran. But rules would allow the Seahawks to trade him until the deadline passes in October (Carroll told reporters he was “happy” and “thrilled” to have Locklear on the team).

I previously thought a Locklear trade made even greater sense because Andrews was scheduled to earn more than $5 million this season. But the Eagles already paid $4.1 million of that on a roster bonus and another $500,000 on a workout bonus. Andrews’ salary for this season is $1.15 million, with $900,000 of that guaranteed (and the remainder becoming guaranteed Sunday).

That means the Seahawks can keep Locklear and Andrews on their roster for a reasonable price.

Keeping Locklear for the time being, at least, helps the Seahawks’ depth. It gives them options. Locklear could play guard, for example.

I’m most interested in seeing how Seattle’s line evolves this season relative to the expectations established when Alex Gibbs was coaching the line. Gibbs was very particular in the types of players he wanted for his line. He has long favored smaller, quicker players at guard. Gibbs’ departure nine days before the regular-season opener leaves a power void based on the influence Gibbs had come to command during his long and successful career. Will the Seahawks gravitate toward bigger personnel up front in an effort to get more push in the running game? Will they drift away from Gibbs’ values? The new line coaches, Art Valero and assistant Pat Ruel, have varied backgrounds and will put their own stamp on the blocking schemes.

Andrews has played guard, but he’s best suited for right tackle, the position Locklear has manned since 2005 (except when the team has needed him at left tackle). I found it curious this week that Seattle wouldn’t consider Locklear at left tackle, which would have cleared the way for Andrews to play right tackle. Favoring the newly added Tyler Polumbus over Locklear at left tackle seemed like another indication Locklear might be on his way out, but it’s possible, too, that Seattle didn’t want to shake up multiple positions on the line so shortly before the season. Also, Locklear struggled with his footwork at left tackle while filling in there last season. Moving him to that side again could have thrown him off unnecessarily.

Going with Locklear at right tackle and Polumbus (or Chester Pitts, health permitting) on the left side gives Andrews time to get familiar with his new surroundings and playbook. I would expect Andrews to work his way into the lineup as the season progresses, however. Perhaps his presence will help the Seahawks get more from Locklear.

The situation will work itself out once Russell Okung’s injured ankle allows him to start at left tackle. Andrews, listed at 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds, has prototypical size for an NFL tackle, and right tackle is the position Seattle envisioned Andrews playing upon acquiring him. I doubt that would change just because there was no trade for Locklear. Andrews is signed through the 2014 season.

Getting Andrews into the lineup at right tackle, if that becomes the intention, wouldn’t seem to require an extended transition period. It’s easier to plug a new player into the lineup at tackle because most of the coordination and communication takes place among the three interior linemen. One of those interior linemen, center Chris Spencer, played with Andrews at Mississippi.

via NFC West Blog – ESPN.