The annual roster pillaging which makes up NFL free agency kicked off in full force Wednesday with the Seahawks officially losing outside linebacker Bruce Irvin, right guard J.R. Sweezy and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane to massive deals from other clubs.
As reported last night, the Raiders latched onto Irvin, reuniting him with former linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr. On Wednesday, the San Diego Chargers filled their need for a nose guard with Mebane, unceremoniously ending a career in Seattle that began with a third round pick back in 2007. Given the important roles Irvin and Mebane played on the Seahawks' record-breaking defenses over the past few seasons, fans might have expected these two to get plenty of interest on the free market and they did.
When Sweezy was also handsomely rewarded (reportedly a five-year, $32.5 million dollar deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), it probably felt like the first day of free agency couldn't get worse for general manager John Schneider and the Seahawks.
The extension of cornerback Jeremy Lane, however, was a significant addition for the Seahawks late on Wednesday, keeping continuity in the secondary with DeShawn Shead, Mohammed Seisay, Steven Terrell and Marcus Burley re-signing with the club over the weekend.
Lane demonstrated great resolve and toughness in his recovery last season from the torn ACL and broken arm suffered in the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, eventually re-emerging in the valuable nickel corner role. He possesses impressive agility and closing speed for coverage, as well as quick hands to slap away at passes. Lane plays with a little bit of Legion of Boom swagger, tackling with aggression and physicality.
Even with the cheerier end to the day for Seahawks fans, the loss of Irvin, Mebane and Sweezy was the disappointing (albeit, expected) takeaway for Wednesday with the biggest fish - free agent left tackle Russell Okung - still dangling.
The Seahawks have a potential in-house candidate in Garry Gilliam to consider moving over to left tackle should Okung sign elsewhere. The club elected to allow last year's primary backup Alvin Bailey to enter into unrestricted free agency this week, a sign that the club is looking at adding to the position regardless of whether or not Okung returns. The Seahawks are high on youngsters Mark Glowinski and Kristjan Sokoli as potential replacements for Sweezy and Bailey but replacing Okung with Gilliam would then create a hole at right tackle and the game of musical chairs continues.
While Okung has struggled with nagging injuries with the Seahawks, his toughness and talent aren't questioned inside the VMAC. Losing Okung would be a significant blow to this team's already thin offensive line.