Justin Britt arrived in Seattle as a second-round pick in 2014, but in terms of his position on the offensive line, it took him three seasons to find a home.
Heading into his fourth season, however, Britt has not only finally settled at one spot, the tackle-turned-guard-turned center is now secure in his future with the franchise, having signed a three-year contract extension Thursday that makes him a Seahawk through 2020.
"He has been a fantastic leader for us up there," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He had an excellent season. He has played three spots for us and started at tackle, guard and center now, and we think he's really in the best spot for him. It's just recognition and acknowledgement of the player and the teammate that he has become for us."
Britt was Seattle's starting right tackle as a rookie, playing every game for the NFC champions. He moved to left guard in 2015, then moved one more time last year to center where he had his best season, being named a Pro Bowl alternate. Britt has started all but one game over the past three years.
Britt's extension is significant not only because it allows the Seahawks to keep one of their core players, but also because of the position he plays. While it hasn't been by design, the Seahawks have become one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the league when it comes to the offensive line, and before Thursday, no lineman drafted under Carroll and John Schneider had earned a second contact with the team.
"The fact that we were able to do it in the offensive line, it is important to note that," Carroll said. "I don't want to try to dissuade you from thinking that. It's a statement that we want to make sure to take care of these guys. Justin has done everything we need him to do, been a great teammate. I'm thrilled we're able to reward him. This is very much in line with all of the things we have done in the past, it just happens to go right to that spot, right to the center of it all, and I'm really fired up about that."
Britt's experience, as well as the position he plays, has helped him become one of leaders not just of a young line, but also the entire offense, and he should only be better in 2017 having a year of experience at center under his belt.
"Really, like the rest of the group, his improvement is very noticeable," offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable said. "His command of it and his leadership has really showed up, but playing the position with the fundamentals, he's a whole year better after going at it for a year. He understands what you're talking about right from the get-go, and he's able to really make a difference in there."
The Seahawks never laid out a plan to intentionally go young or cheap on the offensive line, but the league's salary cap dictates that teams can't spend big everywhere, and rewarding all of the Pro-Bowl caliber talent on defense as well as several stars on offense meant that, as Schneider said before last season, "you have to (save) somewhere, and we're not in the business of letting damn good football players leave."
But when the Seahawks felt like there was a chance to reward "a damn good football player" on the offensive line, they intended to do so, which is what took place with Britt on Thursday.
"It has just been the way the structure has come out, and we're trying to take advantage of the opportunities when we have them," Carroll said late last season when asked about the line. "We've got a young group now and these guys are going to grow up with us and we're really excited about that. There's no question that this is the first year together with this group, and we have a chance to keep it pretty solid and hopefully we'll be able to do that. We'll reap the benefits of the continuity, and then their time (for contracts) will come. We'll deal with that as the time comes."
That time came Thursday, and Britt will now be a Seahawk for years to come.
Take a look back at some of the best photos of Justin Britt as the Seahawks center signs a 3-year contract extension with the club.