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Potential free agent guard options for the Seahawks

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By: Mookie Alexander

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Will the Seahawks add a veteran guard before the NFL Draft?

The Seattle Seahawks will need new starters across their entire interior offensive line next season. Left guard Damien Lewis and center Evan Brown left in free agency, while right guard Phil Haynes is unsigned but probably not returning to Seattle. The Seahawks do have 2023 draft picks Olu Oluwatimi and Anthony Bradford to fill two of the three vacant positions, leaving left guard as the mystery. Treymane Anchrum (career backup) and McClendon Curtis (0 NFL snaps played, predominantly a right guard) are the top two options by default.

Seahawks head coach Mike Macdonald said at the annual league meeting in Orlando that they are far from finished adding players to the offensive line. ESPN’s Brady Henderson believes Seattle will look to sign a guard in the coming days.

While Scott Huff may be a respected college offensive line coach and could become a great one in the NFL, I don’t like putting a giant leap of faith into his abilities to make anyone on the roster a competent starter. Seattle is probably best served bringing in a veteran face to compete for a starting job, but the Seahawks have under $3 million in available cap space and the top options have long been signed. What are some of the inexpensive options? Let’s take a look.

Laken Tomlinson

As mentioned by Brady Henderson, the New York Jets let go of Tomlinson with a year remaining on his three-year contract. Since he’s a street free agent, the 32-year-old is not subject to the comp pick formula. Tomlinson has only missed one career game since entering the NFL in 2015, so durability is undeniably one of his best traits.

If you go by PFF grading, Tomlinson underwhelmed in New York compared to his good-to-great seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. He gave up a career-worst seven sacks in 2023. Perhaps a change of scenery to a more stable organization (with better QB play than Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, and Trevor Siemian) can recapture some of his best form.

Tomlinson’s 2023 cap hit was almost $11 million, by far the highest of his career. Even though the Seahawks can sign him without worrying about comp picks, he is probably one of the more costly “inexpensive” options available.

Dalton Risner

The 28-year-old Risner was selected to PFWA’s All-Rookie Team when he was with the Denver Broncos in 2019. He was not retained after his rookie contract, but curiously didn’t get signed by anyone until the Minnesota Vikings picked him up in Week 3. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as far as the lack of league-wide interest in his services. Risner is clearly mystified.

His performance, while obviously not All-Pro level, has not been bottom-tier. He’s graded better against the pass than the run and has scarcely missed playing time. There must be something deeper to why he was not signed last year and remains a free agent this year.

Last contract was one-year and $2.625 million with the Vikings. Whatever Risner views as “starting guard” money may differ from what the Seahawks can afford to offer. He’s unrestricted, which means he could count against Seattle’s comp pick formula.

Cody Whitehair

Similarly to Tomlinson, the 32-year-old Whitehair was a Chicago Bears cap casualty with a year left on his five-year, $52.5 million extension. His release saved the Bears over $9 million in cap space. Whitehair has made 118 starts since he was drafted in 2016, earning Pro Bowl honors as a center in 2018. He split time between center and left guard a few seasons back, then switched to guard full-time, returned to center in 2023 but soon lost his job for performance reasons.

The remainder of Whitehair’s career is likely at left guard, but his experience at center is worth considering even though Seattle already has Oluwatimi and Nick Harris on the roster.

Matt Feiler

Feiler went undrafted in 2014 but didn’t make his NFL regular season debut until 2017 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most of his snaps have been at left guard, but he’s played at right guard and had two full seasons at right tackle. The 32-year-old graded very well through his first four seasons, but his final year with the Los Angeles Chargers and sole season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a noticeable performance dip. He struggled with injury late in the Bucs’ Week 7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, allowing five pressures in the process. Even after he was ready to return to the lineup, he lost his starting job to Aaron Stinnie. In his last Chargers season he allowed five sacks and a career-worst 38 pressures.

I wouldn’t vouch for Feiler as the answer at left guard for Seattle, especially given his recent performances, but he is available as a cheaper option as depth or a possible starter. The Bucs got him for $2.5 million and he’d likely cost the same if not less.

I’m confident that the Seahawks will draft a guard next month, but not necessarily Troy Fautanu or the exceptionally versatile Graham Barton. In the meantime, it’ll be interesting to see if the Seahawks do take a flyer on one of the remaining FA guards in order to provide some depth in an area that’s quite shallow.

Originally posted on Field Gulls