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Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks’ front-office makeover continues with new salary-cap guru

Raiders guard Greg Van Roten comes off the field with trainers during a game against Pittsburgh in Las Vegas on Sept. 24.  (Tribune News Service)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – For the past 11 years, Matt Thomas was the unknown and unseen force behind the Seahawks, entrusted with managing the team’s salary cap and contract negotiations in his official title of vice president of football administration.

Thomas so preferred to be behind the scenes that he did not have a picture accompanying his bio on the team’s website and generally was not included in any listing of team personnel in media guides – though he was usually among the first John Schneider thanked when the team completed a significant signing.

Thomas departed Wednesday about as quietly as he arrived with the Seahawks, announcing he had “left the organization after 11 seasons in Seattle.”

Thomas will be replaced by Joey Laine, who will hold the same title of vice president of football administration.

Laine has almost two decades of NFL front-office experience, spending the 2023 season as the Green Bay Packers’ salary-cap analyst.

He was director of football administration for the Chicago Bears from 2015-21, with a news release stating that, in that role, he worked “as the chief contract negotiator and overseeing the overall health of the club’s salary cap and strategic planning, while ensuring CBA compliance.”

Laine spent the 2005-14 seasons with the New Orleans Saints, working the final six years as the team’s salary-cap analyst/player personnel.

The switch from Thomas to Laine continues what has been an offseason of significant front-office change for the Seahawks, led by the dismissal of head coach Pete Carroll, who served as the executive vice president of football operations, a role that gave him final say over all football personnel moves.

Carroll was replaced as coach by Mike Macdonald, with Schneider assuming a new title of president of football operations, giving him final say over the playing roster and coaching staff.

Veteran OL Van Roten reportedly visiting

Schneider said on his radio show on Seattle Sports 710 last week that the Seahawks planned to bring in “a couple of veteran offensive linemen through in this second phase of free agency, and then comparing that (with) what the draft looks like. … That is a need on our team right now. I think it’s fairly obvious.”

The name of one of those veterans being brought in for a visit – Greg Van Roten – surfaced Wednesday, reported first by NFL writer Aaron Wilson and later by ESPN.

Van Roten, who turned 34 in February, started all 17 games last season for the Raiders, getting all 1,024 snaps at right guard, according to Pro Football Focus.

He finished the year with the 15th-highest grade of any interior offensive linemen (guards and centers) from PFF in 2023. PFF wrote:

“In his first season in Vegas, Van Roten produced a top-10 interior pass-blocking grade (77.4), the highest of his career. Across 626 pass sets, he earned a quality 98.1 pass-blocking efficiency rating, buoyed by four perfect games with a 100.0 efficiency rating.”

Van Roten has played in 110 games, with 71 starts, in an NFL career that dates to 2012.

That career includes a stint with the Seahawks in 2014 when he was on the team throughout the offseason and training camp before being waived in late August without playing in a regular-season game.

The Seahawks have just two players listed as guards on their roster – second-year player Anthony Bradford and free-agent signee Tremayne Anchrum Jr. – after seeing starting left guard Damien Lewis sign with Carolina and with opening-day starting right guard Phil Haynes remaining unsigned.

Bradford started 10 games last season because of injury and is expected to compete for a starting spot in 2024. But Anchrum has just one start in his four-year NFL career.

Second-year player McClendon Curtis, listed as a tackle, also had significant experience inside in college, starting 30 games at right guard, and could be used inside.

As Schneider noted, the Seahawks will need to fill out the interior of their offensive line heading into camp.

Schneider told reporters at the NFL league meetings last week that they could look to the draft as well as free agency to supplement the guard spot.

And the good news there is it considered a good and deep class of interior linemen – an assessment that surely has influenced how the Seahawks have handled that position in free agency.

That group includes UW standout Troy Fautanu, who played tackle for the Huskies but is considered likely to be used inside in the NFL and has often been projected as a potential draft pick for the Seahawks.