The Elephant in the Locker Room: The Offensive Diaspora; or, Where Are They Now?


be-back-smBy Greg Wright

I remember a time when ex-Seahawks just vanished.

We never had high-profile players that were expendable, and none of our free-agents ever signed big-time contracts with other teams… and stuck. Steve Hutchinson was the extreme outlier. You could watch a dozen games straight played by other teams and never run across ex-Hawks.

Then Pete and John cleaned house when they took over the team. And then the roster was shuffled even more in 2011. Hasselbeck went on to win a lot of games with the Titans and Colts. David Hawthorne landed on his feet bigtime in New Orleans. By 2012, ex-Seattle DBs started turning up all over the league. It was obvious that Seattle’s talent mill was churning out blue chip after blue chip, more than the roster could accommodate. Even head coaching positions were being filled by ex-Seahawk staffers.

It’s now common for Seahawk free agents to sign enormous contracts with other teams.

Yes, even those guys you loved to hate: offensive linemen.

Breno Giacomini, photo by Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons

Breno Giacomini, photo by Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons

Remember all the howling about the draft pick wasted on James Carpenter? Remember the frustration you felt at the copious false start and holding penalties generated by Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini? Remember scoffing at the idea of a team with championship aspirations starting converted defensive lineman J.R. Sweezy at guard in a conference dominated by guys like Aldon Smith, Calais Campbell, and Michael Brockers?

Remember wondering if Russell Wilson would even survive his rookie season?

Oh, and remember that Super Bowl? And the next one?

I guarantee you that Okung, Carpenter, Unger, Sweezy, and Giacomini do.

And I guarantee you that most of their current teammates do as well, eyeing those Super Bowl rings and wishing they had one, too.

Here’s where your former Seahawks’ starting offensive linemen are now, courtesy of spotrac.com:

Breno Giacomini signed a 4 year, $18,000,000 contract with the New York Jets, including a $2,500,000 signing bonus, $7,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $4,500,000. In 2016, Giacomini will earn a base salary of $5,000,000.

J.R. Sweezy signed a 5 year, $32,500,000 contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, including $14,500,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $6,500,000. In 2016, Sweezy will earn a base salary of $4,500,000 and a roster bonus of $5,000,000.

Max Unger signed a 3 year, $22,200,000 contract with the New Orleans Saints, including a $7,000,000 signing bonus, $14,300,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $7,400,000. In 2016, Unger will earn a base salary of $850,000, a signing bonus of $7,000,000, a roster bonus of $250,000 and a workout bonus of $6,240.

James Carpenter signed a 4 year, $19,100,000 contract with the New York Jets, including a $3,500,000 signing bonus, $7,500,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $4,775,000. In 2016, Carpenter will earn a base salary of $760,000, a roster bonus of $250,000 and a restructure bonus of $3,690,000.

Russell Okung signed a 5 year, $53,000,000 contract with the Denver Broncos, including an average annual salary of $10,600,000. In 2016, Okung will earn a base salary of $2,000,000, a roster bonus of $2,000,000 and a workout bonus of $1,000,000.

Yeah, what a bunch of bums.

I’ll tell you what I think of when I ponder Seattle’s offensive line.

I think of Robert Griffen III pounded into oblivion year after year.

I think of McCown, Kessler, and Whitehurst also all going down in Cleveland.

I think Teddy Bridgewater was lucky to end his season with a non-game injury.

I think of the 8 sacks that Carson Palmer took against Carolina last week.

I think of lost playing-time concussions to Palmer, Newton, and Smith.

I pity Andrew Luck and the 31 sacks he’s taken this season. And that it’s nothing new in Indianapolis. Do you have any idea of the number of games Luck has missed due to injury over his career?

So I look at what George Fant managed to accomplish in his first full-speed action as an offensive lineman ever — and I marvel. And while I cringe at the cellar-dwelling run-production of this particular O-line unit, I’ll take 12 sacks after seven games. Things could be worse. They could be oh, so much worse. We could have some other team’s offensive line.

Now, I know we have Super Bowl aspirations again, fans.

But geez… be fans, for crying out loud. And local journalists? Be informed, and be realistic. As long as John Schneider, Pete Carroll, and Tom Cable are around you are not going to see a line like the Cowboys’ put together.

But I’ll also be willing to bet that somewhere down the line Gilliam, Britt, Glowinski, and Fant are going to join Sweezy, Carpenter, and Co. on the Free Agent Parade.

As your Seahawks sit atop the NFC West at midseason with a decent shot at the second seed in the NFC, celebrate the fact that we they are probably better off than 20 or so other teams when it comes to O-line play.

And find something else to complain about. Please. I’m tired of listening to ya’ll.

After four playoff appearances in a row, everyone’s paying attention… yet even with all the scrutiny, it seems that there’s always some key issue that’s getting glossed over. It’s the elephant in the locker room, if you will, and gosh darn if I’ll let that ride. Join us weekly for a little closer look at our NFC West Champions.


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