Seattle Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung is a pending free agent whose stock may have taken a hit in Seattle's divisional round loss to the Carolina Panthers when he suffered his latest injury, a painful shoulder dislocation which will require surgery.
As first reported by my CBS colleague Jason LaCanfora, Okung took to email recently to alert the Seahawks and rest of the NFL that he does need surgery but expects on the road to be back in time for training camp. According to LaCanfora, it will be specialist Dr. Robin West performing the procedure on Okung.
Besides the operation, the problem is Okung technically remains under contract with the Seahawks until March 9, when the NFL's calendar year begins. As such, Okung the player - or the agent - is not supposed to communicate with any clubs other than the Seahawks.
Representatives of other clubs at the Senior Bowl this week were unwilling to speak publicly about the specifics of Okung's email but did acknowledge its existence.
When healthy, Okung has been Seattle's best offensive lineman, playing up to his position as the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft.
Unfortunately, the 27-year Okung has struggled with durability throughout his career, not yet playing full regular season over his six-year NFL career. Okung missed three full games over the 2015 regular season with leg injuries before suffering the shoulder dislocation during the second quarter of the Carolina game.
According to the salary cap website Spotrac.com, Okung averaged roughly 8.1 million in salary over his first six years in the NFL. He's likely to command something similar to this in the open market, which could make it difficult for the Seahawks to retain him.
While his durability is a significant concern, Okung's ability is undeniable. The 2016 NFL draft is a bit stronger at tackle than in recent years but only two players - juniors Laremy Tunsil (Mississippi) and Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame) are viewed as surefire left tackles at the next level. They'll be long gone by the time Seattle drafts 26th overall.
A trio of Big Ten standouts - Ohio State's Taylor Decker, Michigan State's Jack Conklin and Indiana's Jason Spriggs - are among the prospects Seattle may see in this draft as a possible replacements should Okung play elsewhere in 2016.