Now that more has been reported about about the contract drama unfolding at training camp, the more it seems that LT Duane Brown is the Seahawks’ most difficult roster problem.
While a standoff is apparent with SS Jamal Adams, at least the sides are negotiating. The Seattle Times, citing unidentified sources, said the Seahawks have offered Adams a four-year extension at an average annual value of $17.5 million, making him the NFL’s highest paid safety, at a little less that the $18 million of longtime defensive captain Bobby Wagner. Adams’ side wants to bump up the guaranteed money to $40 million from $38 million, and shorten its payment from four to three years.
The Seahawks said no.
Which is apparently what the Seahawks have said to Brown.
Except coach Pete Carroll has given no indication that talks are even taking place.
Saturday in Las Vegas against the Raiders begins the first of three exhibition games. Because fourth-year backup LT Jamarco Jones has been out with back spasms, rookie sixth-rounder Stone Forsythe is the default starter. No offense to Forsythe, but new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron would be wise to ash-can any read-option plays Saturday with Russell Wilson.
It makes sense that that the Seahawks would like to get the larger Adams extension done to see what’s left for an extension for Brown, who, like Adams, has been an every-day presence at training camp, but not practicing.
What makes sense to Brown is to consider that, at 35, he had one of his best seasons in 2020 — Pro Football Focus ranked him fifth among left tackles, after giving up two sacks in 1,048 snaps.
PFF also said this about Brown following the season:
The Seahawks’ offensive line ranked 16th as a unit in pass-blocking grade this season. That may not appear all that impressive on the surface, but it’s the highest they’ve ranked in that area since Wilson has been in Seattle.
That improvement is due in part to several members along the line taking steps toward the production Brown has been able to put forth each year since joining the team in 2017.
Brown remains the leader, fresh off his highest PFF grade (87.3) since 2011. He has been a model of consistency in pass protection over the years, with pass-blocking grades of 77.0 or higher in every season since 2011 on at least 400 pass-blocking snaps. The 2020 season was just another chapter in what has been an underrated career for the 2008 first-round pick.
Another thing that makes sense to Brown is how the market for tackles has changed. Little remembered in the third day of free agency in March was that the San Francisco 49ers broke the bank for their left tackle, giving Trent Williams a six-year, $138 million deal, $40 million guaranteed, that made him the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history.
At 33, Williams, whom PFF graded No. 1 at the position, is no youngster relative to Brown, who turns 36 Aug. 30. But Brown has a $10 million base owed this season, while Williams, an eight-time Pro Bowler, has an average annual value of $23 million. What Brown wants, other than an extension, isn’t known. Conceivably,, he could accept less this season in exchange for $13 million-$15 million next year, which is still well below market for proven left tackles.
The Seahawks for the moment find themselves boxed in. Each passing year over 35 is a larger risk to any big man’s knees, but the argument can be made that they haven’t prepared well for his successor, leaving them vulnerable, and Brown knows it. Jones, 25, a fifth-rounder in the 2018 draft out of Ohio State, has five career starts and has been a solid fill-in, but no one is calling him Brown’s heir apparent. Forsythe is a project.
The fall-off from Brown to Jones is steeper than the one after Adams, but there’s no way the Seahawks let Adams get away.
Apart from all the bewildering money numbers, Brown, after 14 seasons, has an earnestness and authenticity about him that fills a meeting room with more than his bulk.
“He’s just been a great part of our program,” Carroll said in June. “His leadership, his toughness, what he stands for as a man . . . he’s just a remarkable guy. We would love for him to be with us. If he wants to keep playing, we want him to keep playing.”
At this point, the impasse has to be considered more a function of sequencing than stinginess. By word and deed, the Seahawks are all in for a title run this season. That doesn’t happen with Brown sitting on the curb.