First domino falls as Seahawks hunt for OL additions

The Seahawks’ offensive line could look very different in 2021. (Getty)

Seahawks starting left guard Mike Iupati announced his retirement Monday after 11 NFL seasons.

Related: Seahawks’ Mike Iupati to retire after 11 NFL seasons

No one should be surprised. Injuries hampered him in his two seasons with the Seahawks. He missed seven of 32 regular season games.

He spent his 11-year career in the NFC West, making three Pro Bowls for the San Francisco 49ers and one with the Arizona Cardinals. He said his body had just had enough in a Spokesman-Review article announcing his retirement.

His announcement opens the door to one of the biggest decisions general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have faced with the Seahawks. They have two big holes in the middle of the offensive line, and they have to decide whether Jordan Simmons or Phil Haynes are good enough at left guard and whether to re-sign center Ethan Pocic or find another starting center.

Free agency will offer more center than guard. Green Bay’s Corey Linsley is considered the best center in the free agent market and could make $ 10 million a year, if not more. But Alex Mack, Ted Karras, Austin Blythe, Joe Looney and David Andrews are also available, and that doesn’t include centers that could be cut.

Brandon Scherff is the best shooting guard, but the Washington soccer team will find a way to keep him. Joe Thuney of the New England Patriots is next, but there’s a big drop after that.

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The offensive line is becoming a big story in the NFC West. Russell Wilson threw the Seahawks offensive line under the bus in his interviews after the Super Bowl and said the line needs to improve. The San Francisco 49ers need to find a way to rehire left tackle Trent Williams and that could cost more than $ 20 million a year – no easy task with a tight salary cap and a long list of free agents.

The Los Angeles Rams shocked everyone last week when head coach Sean McVay fired offensive line coach Aaron Kromer and hired Stanford’s running game coordinator Kevin Carberry. Kromer’s departure leaves McVay with just four of his original coaches on the 2017 staff. The Rams also have trouble on the offensive line and may not be able to afford to re-sign Blythe. Because they are going to be more than $ 30 million over the limit after completing the Matthew Stafford trade, they may have to cut right tackle Rob Havenstein.

With the Seahawks hiring former Rams passing games coordinator Shane Waldron as offensive coordinator and former Rams assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson as running game coordinator, it is possible that ask if the Seahawks would be tempted to go for Blythe or Rams backup center Brian Allen. . They both know the offensive line scheme that Waldron and Dickerson are bringing in from the Rams, and they would be well led by Seahawks offensive line coach Mike Solari.

Solari values ​​size along the offensive line, and the Rams’ scheme needs good athleticism from blockers, too. If the Seahawks improve on the offensive line and the new Waldron-led offense allows Russell Wilson to throw faster than the 2.97 seconds he averaged on the ball on passing plays, the Seattle quarterback should have his first season. under-40 sacks since 2012. For the past four years, Jared Goff and Jimmy Garoppolo, who played systems with the Rams and 49ers similar to the ones Waldron is bringing to Seattle, had just one season of more than 30 sacks each one.

It’s true that Wilson needs to take fewer hits. Now that Iupati is gone, work begins on figuring out the Seahawks’ offensive line.

Follow John Clayton on Twitter.

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