Now that the 2020 NFL season has officially come to an end with Tampa Bay winning Super Bowl LV, it's time to look ahead to the offseason that will help shape Seattle's success in the 2021 season. With free agency beginning next month, and the draft to follow later in the spring, Seahawks.com is taking a position-by-position look at where the team stands, starting today with the offensive line. Check back tomorrow for a look at the defensive line.
The Seahawks started the year as one of the best offenses in the NFL, and offensive line play was a big part of that success. Veteran left tackle Duane Brown was one of Seattle's most consistent offensive players, Brandon Shell was a great addition at right tackle, and rookie right guard Damien Lewis proved to be one of the team's top draft picks in 2020, making the PFWA All-Rookie team while starting all 16 games. Ethan Pocic also found a home at center after playing multiple spots in his first three seasons, and when healthy, veteran guard Mike Iupati continued to provide strong play and a veteran presence at left guard.
Health, however, was a concern for the line, and injuries did contribute to the offense cooling off in the second half of the season. Only Brown and Lewis started all 16 games, and the Seahawks played only six games all season, their playoff loss to the Rams included, with their starting five on the field.
Biggest question to answer this offseason: What changes occur on the interior offensive line?
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll mentioned in his end-of-season press conference that he'd like to see the interior offensive line play improve: "We need to make sure that the inside three guys, that we grow and get better there." And a big part of that equation is figuring out who fills those roles. Lewis is all but a lock to again start at guard, but Pocic and Iupati are both free agents, so the Seahawks could potentially have two starting spots to fill. There are players on the 2020 roster who could compete for any vacancies, including Jordan Simmons, who started six games in place of Iupati, Phil Haynes, Jamarco Jones and Kyle Fuller. Simmons is a restricted free agent, however, so it's not guaranteed he's back.
A less immediate questions the Seahawks could look to start addressing this offseason is long-term depth at tackle. Brown showed that, at 35, he's still one of the game's best left tackles, but at some point the Seahawks will need to have a plan in place should Brown retire in the next couple of years, and Shell has one year left on the 2-year deal he signed last year. Cedric Ogbuehi, Seattle's top backup tackle last year, will become a free agent in March.
Biggest reason for optimism in 2021: Talented tackles & Damien Lewis' potential
As mentioned above, the Seahawks made need to start considering long-term solutions at tackle, but just looking at 2021, the pairing of Brown and Shell gives Seattle very strong bookends on its line even if there's some uncertainty about the interior line. And while it's not clear what will happen at all the interior line spots, Lewis showed as a rookie that one of Seattle's starting guard spots in great hands for years to come.