Seahawks coach Pete Carroll finally addressed the issue of his depleted offensive line Wednesday, telling reporters in a typical burst of optimism at the NFL meetings in Boca Raton, FL., that, despite the defections of unrestricted free agents Russell Okung (Denver) and J.R. Sweezy (Tampa Bay) that “I think we’re in good shape.”
To replace Okung and Sweezy, the Seahawks dipped into a tepid pool of free-agent offensive linemen and came away with J’Marcus Webb, formerly of Oakland, and Bradley Sowell, who played last year, sort of, with Arizona. Webb, who signed a two-year deal, will be with his fourth team in seven seasons. Sowell has made only one start since 2013.
Echoing comments made by GM John Schneider Tuesday, Carroll said he will probably move Gary Gilliam to Okung’s left tackle slot and replace him with Webb at right tackle. Mark Glowinski, a fourth-round pick last year, is a candidate to replace Sweezy.
“It’s very fortunate we have Garry Gilliam,” said Carroll. “Garry Gilliam was a guy that when we first found him, we thought he was an athlete that could play left tackle. Remember, he was a tight end, and he’s got really good movement. He’s really quick on his feet. So the fact that he played this year and did a very nice job . . . he gained the starter’s mentality and all that. We think we have an athlete that’s really equipped to play that spot.
“But we’re going to have to go to camp and see how it all works out. We have the flexibility to see how Brad (Sowell) looks there. We can also do J’Marcus (Webb) there if we have to, and Garry can stay on the right side. So we’ll figure that out when we get to camp and get our hands on the guys.
“But Garry Gilliam, he’s a tremendous prospect to be a left tackle. So whereas I think you guys are concerned about the spot, we’re really not. We’re excited to see how it turns out. We have good, viable guys to take a shot. And we’ll see what Terry Poole can do, too, at the right tackle spot to give us four guys that really can mix it.”
Webb made 13 starts at right guard for the Raiders and finished with three starts at right tackle.
“In his career, he’s been knocked around quite a bit, but we think that he’s really made a big turn,” Carroll said. “He’s made a big turn as a young man in his last couple years. We really think that we may be catching him at a really good time. So we’re excited about him.”
Carroll indicated that additional moves could be made in free agency, or when players get released, or in the draft. But as it stands now, Seattle’s offensive line includes Patrick Lewis at center, Gilliam and Justin Britt on the left side of the line and Glowinski and Webb on the right.
“We have to figure it out as we go, but I’ve never been worried about that,” Carroll added. “We just want it to happen quickly and get the thing situated as soon as we can. No timeline on that, but that’ll be one of our concerns as we go through it.”
Carroll had several other thoughts Wednesday, especially on the free-agency front.
Losing Okung to the Broncos: “I think it turned out fine for him. He did a good job. It was a difficult challenge and I was worried about him. Seriously, I was worried about how he was going to pull that together and that’s a lot of responsibility, and the fact that he had his injury to compound his whole story there.
“I thought it was going to be hard for him. But I’m really fired up for him that he pulled it off and got a good deal and a long-term opportunity and made a lot of money. So there wasn’t really any surprise because we felt people would value our players enough that they would take them off our roster.’’
Retaining CB Jeremy Lane: “We were really happy to get Jeremy back. That was a big deal for us because his best play is ahead of him. He has done great stuff for us. That solidifies the corner spot going into the draft, which I thought was important.’’
Losing LB Bruce Irvin: “We did a lot of things with Bruce. He played SAM (strongside) backer for us and also rushed on third down. We did everything you can do with a guy, I think. I heard he said otherwise, but he did a lot of good stuff. Frank Clark (second-round pick last year) is going to really help us. We think he is going to be a premier rusher. So losing Bruce really opens up the opportunity for Frank to step up and do some good things.
“Mike Morgan did really well when he played last year at the SAM spot but he’s not going to be the third-down rusher, so it might be a combination of guys playing. But it will be a spot to watch. We’re going to play Cassius Marsh at SAM backer some and see how he does there. He can also double as a third-down rusher, too.’’
On WR Paul Richardson: “He’s in great shape. He had to overcome a severe hamstring. But he’s ready to go. That’s an exciting part of our game. He was really coming on, we all saw him starting to emerge and then he got banged up again. But hopefully he’ll just be able to have a good, steady process of adding to the team. He’s a deep threat.”