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Seattle Seahawks

Mailbag: Seahawks have plenty of questions on their offensive line

Former Washington State standout tackle Abraham Lucas missed time during his second season with the Seattle Seahawks because of injury.  (Getty Images)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – How many undrafted free agents typically make the Seattle Seahawks’ roster out of training camp? Who might be their third-team center? And what does the competition look like at guard?

Let’s address those questions in our latest Seahawks X mailbag with questions lightly edited for clarity.

Q: captainseahawk asked: What is the average number of UFAs (undrafted free agents) making the final 53-man roster in the last 10 years? My guess is three.

A: I interpreted this question as UDFAs (or undrafted rookie free agents) making the initial 53-man roster out of training camp, which sometimes is referred to as the final roster after other cuts during the preseason.

The reality is that the 53-man roster is never final – there are usually moves made that week and more throughout the season.

It’s common for teams to have 70 or more players as part of their 53-man rosters during the course of the season.

As for this question, by my count there have been 18 undrafted rookie free agents who made the initial 53-man roster over the past 10 seasons.

Six made it in 2016, a season that can be viewed as the beginning of the roster reset from the Super Bowl years. Otherwise, there haven’t been more than two in any year since 2014.

Again, this is UDFAs who made the initial roster and were not waived and re-signed.

Some UDFAs who went on to have significant Seahawks careers were cut and re-signed, notably defensive back DeShawn Shead and receiver Jermaine Kearse in 2012.

Here’s the list:

  • 2014 – Tackle Garry Gilliam, linebacker Brock Coyle.
  • 2015 – Running back Thomas Rawls.
  • 2016 – Quarterback Trevone Boykin, receiver Tanner McEvoy, tackle George Fant, cornerback DeAndre Elliott, safety Tyvis Powell and long snapper Nolan Frese.
  • 2017 – Offensive lineman Jordan Roos.
  • 2018 – Defensive lineman Poona Ford.
  • 2019 – Defensive lineman Bryan Mone.
  • 2020 – None.
  • 2021 – Offensive lineman Jake Curhan.
  • 2022 – Linebacker Josh Onujiogu, safety Joey Blount.
  • 2023 – Receiver Jake Bobo, snapper Chris Stoll.

As you can see, the Seahawks typically kept one or two undrafted rookie free agents on their initial roster.

Without breaking that down for the other 31 teams, my guess is that’s a fairly common number given that most teams usually keep most or all of their seven or so draft picks.

Many of the UDFAs who are cut are re-signed to the practice squad and a handful end up playing.

The Seahawks ended last season with 15 rookies on their 53-man roster. Of those, four were UDFAs – Bobo and Stoll as well as safety Ty Okada and linebacker Patrick O’Connell.

The latter two were cut and re-signed to the practice squad and late in the season signed to the 53.

The UDFA distinction is important.

The league defines UDFAs as rookies who are not drafted and sign standard three-year contracts with set salaries for each season, and with no ability to renegotiate until year three.

Once a player is cut, their UDFA contract is voided. If they do re-sign, they do so to a different contract, usually for one or two years.

As for the six who made it in 2016, that came in a season when the Seahawks had a whopping 14 rookies on their initial 53-man roster, after seeing some significant departures that offseason of key players from the Super Bowl years.

Vets who departed that offseason included Marshawn Lynch, Russell Okung J.R. Sweezy, Brandon Mebane and Bruce Irvin, as well as snapper Clint Gresham and backup QB Tarvaris Jackson, whose exits led directly to two of the UDFAs they kept to replace them (Boykin, Frese).

Q: afoxer1 asked: Who’s the third-string center in case the ones we have (who are both under 300 pounds) don’t pan out this year?

A: The two veteran centers to whom the question is referring are Olu Oluwatimi (listed by the team at 6 -foot -2, 309 pounds) and former UW star Nick Harris (listed at 6-1, 305 pounds).

For what it’s worth, the two All-Pro centers last year – Philly’s Jason Kelce and Detroit’s Frank Ragnow – are listed at 6-3, 295 pounds and 6-5, 310 pounds, respectively.

Creed Humphrey of the Chiefs – who was a favorite of many Seahawks fans for the team to draft in 2021 before they took Dee Eskridge at 62nd overall – is 6-4, 302.

Assuming these numbers are all accurate, weight wouldn’t seem to be an issue for the Seahawks.

The Oluatimi/Harris battle will indeed be one of the more interesting competitions of camp as new offensive-line coach Scott Huff sorts things out.

Huff obviously has experience working with Harris during his time at UW from 2017-23 (Harris was there from 2016-19).

Neither has much starting experience – Harris had four starts in three seasons with Cleveland and Oluwatimi, a fifth-round pick a year ago out of Michigan, had one in 2023.

After the 2024 draft, the Seahawks signed Kansas center Mike Novitsky as a UDFA.

Novitsky, listed at 6-3, 309 pounds, worked as the center with the No. 1 offensive line during rookie minicamp. I would imagine they figure Oluwatimi and Harris make the 53-man roster and that Novitsky lands on the practice squad as the de facto third center. Novitsky comes to Seattle with one impressive stat – he did not allow a sack in 2,302 snaps in college.

The Seahawks will likely get one of the other guards who make the 53-man some snaps at center during training camp to serve as an emergency center on game day, as well.

Q: landonrhino asked: Team seems to have multiple guys at right guard (Anthony Bradford, Sataoa Laumea, Christian Haynes). What is the plan at left guard? Laken Tomlinson starting? Tremayne Anchrum? Others?

A: The 32-year-old Tomlinson, who has started 114 consecutive games since the 2017 season, appears to be set at left guard heading into training camp.

Right guard appears to be a competition between Bradford – who started 10 games there last year – and Haynes, taken in the third round last month.

Laumea, a sixth-round pick, played mostly left guard in rookie minicamp, seeming to foreshadow he’ll start out there, potentially backing up Tomlinson.

Anchrum played mostly right guard with the Rams, so he could get into the mix there, as well.

Another name to watch is McClendon Curtis, who was signed off the practice squad of the Raiders after the first game last season and kept on the 53-man roster the rest of the season.

Curtis was listed as a tackle last year but is now listed as a guard, and he started 30 games at right guard at Tennessee-Chatanooga. So he could get into the RG mix.

One thing to remember is that it’s common for the Seahawks to have only one backup guard active on gameday, and that player has to be able to play both sides in case of an injury.

Don’t be surprised to hear of all of the younger players/backups being used at least a little bit on both sides during training camp.