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Seahawks bring back right guard J.R. Sweezy

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll celebrates with lineman J.R. Sweezy, left, after the Seahawks thumped the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. (Matt Slocum / AP)
Seattle head coach Pete Carroll celebrates with lineman J.R. Sweezy, left, after the Seahawks thumped the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. (Matt Slocum / AP)

SEATTLE – J.R. Sweezy, a starter for all but one game at right guard when the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013 and 49 games overall from 2012-15, is back in Seattle, re-signing with the Seahawks on Wednesday.

To make room on the 90-man roster, the Seahawks waived injured offensive lineman Avery Young.

Sweezy signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay following the 2015 season. But he became a free agent again in June when he had his contract terminated by the Bucs in a cost-cutting move – he was owed $15.5 million over the next three seasons as part of a five-year, $32.5 million deal. He also was recovering from a leg injury and it was unclear if he would win a starting job this year with Tampa Bay.

Sweezy, who turned 29 in April, missed all of the 2016 season with the Bucs with a back injury and then started 14 games in 2017 at right guard before breaking his fibula.

He visited the Seahawks a month ago and Seattle apparently got the news it wanted about his health to go ahead and make the signing and bring him in as apparent competition for D.J. Fluker at right guard and/or adding depth and competition all along the offensive line.

Sweezy was a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks in 2012 out of North Carolina State where he was a teammate of Russell Wilson’s and played on defense before converting to the offensive line with Seattle.

After starting three games as a rookie in 2012, Sweezy became a full-time starter the following year starting all but two games at right guard from 2013-15.

The Seahawks signed Fluker to play right guard in March. But Fluker has been dealing with a knee issue that sidelined him for much of the offseason program and has had him limited at times so far during training camp. Fluker played just nine games for the Giants last season before going on Injured Reserve with a toe injury.

The Seahawks have also used Willie Beavers at right guard in camp when Fluker has been out, and for a few snaps on Monday used Germain Ifedi there – Ifedi was the primary starter at right guard as a rookie in 2016.

Adding Sweezy may mean the team is committed to keeping Ifedi at right tackle for now. Or maybe the Seahawks just want more experienced depth to compete with Fluker (Beavers has just 11 snaps in two NFL games, both in 2016 with the Vikings).

And while Fluker has been primarily a right guard the last three seasons, he also started 31 games at tackle in 2013 and 2014 – mostly on the right side – and maybe the Seahawks could consider using him there, too.

Offensive line coach Mike Solari said on Monday that while Seattle has had a pretty consistent starting five early in camp – left tackle Duane Brown, left guard Ethan Pocic, center Justin Britt, Fluker and Ifedi – that the team would continue to tinker with combinations up front to get the best five.

“It’s an open competition,” Solari said. “You do have to have a starting point, so those five were there for a reason. No, it’s open competition. Everybody’s competing. Iron sharpens iron. The best five start and be ready if we have to move some guys to get the best five on the field.”

They now have a new – if familiar – piece to throw into that mix.

Details on the contract were not revealed, but it’s likely to be a relatively low-risk deal for the Seahawks.

Sweezy played 903 snaps last season for Tampa Bay, earning a grade of 70.1 from Pro Football Focus as a pass blocker and 52.8 as a run blocker.

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