Both of Seattle’s starting offensive tackles from the 2013 Super Bowl-champion team — Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini — became free agents on Thursday.
Both of the starting offensive tackles from Seattle’s 2013 Super Bowl champs — Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini — became free agents Thursday, leading to the inevitable curiosity of whether the Seahawks might want them back.
Okung became a free agent when Denver declined to pick up on option on his contract for four more years and $48 million — the deadline to do so was March 8.
Giacomini became a free agent later in the day when he was released by the New York Jets with a year remaining on a contract he signed following the 2013 season that would have paid him $4.5 million next season.
By being released, Giacomini could sign with a team immediately. Okung will become an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with any team when the signing period begins March 9.
Reports out of Denver are that it’s not expected that he would return to the Broncos with a restructured deal, meaning he appears likely to hit free agency.
While Okung had his struggles in 2016, rated as the 38th best tackle in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, he figures to have his share of suitors. WalterFootball, for instance, rated Okung as the second-best LT who may be available behind Andrew Whitworth of Cincinnati.
At 29, Okung’s age isn’t yet necessarily an issue, and while he never played a full season of games with the Seahawks he did in 2016 with Denver, missing just 13 snaps with the Broncos.
All of that could make Okung a fairly attractive target in the first round of free agency. Indications are that each side would be amenable to a return to Seattle, but it’s also pretty early in the process (and technically the two sides can’t talk until the negotiating period opens on March 7) to have a clear view of where anything could be headed.
While Seattle has roughly $25 million in cap room, a lot other teams have a lot more — 16 NFL teams have roughly $35 million or more available.
The market for Giacomini is harder to assess. He will be 32 next September and is recovering from back surgery to fix an injury that held him to five games in 2016. Those factors likely mean Giacomini would be in the second or third wave of free agency and likely to sign a short-term, low-risk deal with a team and probably without an expectation of a significant immediate role.
The Seahawks have not been immune to bringing back former players, last year re-signing three other members of the Super Bowl champs — cornerback Brandon Browner, defensive end Chris Clemons and defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. All signed one-year, low-risk deals and Browner and Clemons didn’t make it past the pre-season (Clemons retiring before training camp began) while McDaniel signed early in training camp to add depth and ended up playing in all 16 games.
All five members of Seattle’s Super Bowl champion offensive line were gone by the 2016 season — Okung, Giacomini, center Max Unger (traded to New Orleans), guard James Carpenter (signed with the Jets) and guard J.R Sweezy (signed with Tampa Bay).
The Seahawks could return every starting offensive linemen from their 2016 season, including left tackle George Fant (who is under contract) and right tackle Garry Gilliam (a restricted free agent). While coach Pete Carroll talked in his post-season press conference of the value of continuity, the team will undoubtedly look to add pieces through free agency and the draft.