Position Preview – Offensive Line
Holdovers: Chris Spencer, Max Unger, Sean Locklear, Ray Willis, Mike Gibson, Steve Vallos, Mansfield Wrotto
Newcomers: Russell Okung (1st round), Ben Hamilton, Joe Toledo, Jeff Byers, Mitch Erickson, Jacob Phillips, Adrian Martinez
Departures: Walter Jones (retired) Rob Sims (trade, Detroit), Trevor Canfield (waived), Brandon Frye, Damion McIntosh (free agent)
Depth Chart Heading Into Training Camp
LT – Russell Okung
LG – Ben Hamilton
C – Chris Spencer
RG – Max Unger
RT – Sean Locklear
Reserves: Ray Willis (G/T), Mansfield Wrotto (G/T), Jacob Phillips (T), Joe Toledo (T). Steve Vallos (C/G), Mike Gibson (G), Jeff Byers (C/G), Mitch Erickson (G), Adrian Martinez (C/G)
In an off-season full of major storylines for the Seattle Seahawks, the retirement of Walter Jones ranks among the most significant. Jones is arguably the greatest player to ever play for the Seahawks, and fives year from now will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. His retirement was not a surprise, however.
At 36 years old, and with knee and back issues that kept him out for the entire 2009 season, odds were against Jones making a comeback in 2010.
A major addition to the offensive line came in the form of Alex Gibbs, the most renowned offensive line coach in the NFL. Gibbs brings with him a true zone-blocking system, and his hiring led to much speculation that the Seahawks would wait to address Jones' replacement at left tackle.
Fortunately, Gibbs' age (69) and the importance of seriously addressing the position was not lost on the new front office, which used the sixth overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft on Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung, who will start from Day One at left tackle.
To help Okung's transition to the NFL, the Seahawks signed veteran guard Ben Hamilton, who played for Gibbs earlier his career with the Denver Broncos. Hamilton will make over $2 million this season, in part to serve as an on-field coach for Okung.
Spencer and Unger were the most highly-drafted offensive linemen of the Tim Ruskell Era, and both came with the "Center of the Future" label.
Injuries and inconsistency have been Spencer's biggest issue, and the Seahawks swapped him and Unger, who began his NFL career at right guard, for the final three weeks of the 2009 regular season.
Not eligible for unrestricted free agency, the Seahawks brought Spencer back on the one-year tender and Gibbs has Spencer back at center, with Unger playing right guard.
Locklear, who struggled mightily on the left side, moves back to his more natural right tackle position.
Willis' versatility as a "swing" tackle and guard, and Vallos' intelligence and experience as a starting center, likely assure both of a roster spot this season. Wrotto, a fourth-round pick entering the final year of his rookie contract, worked at tackle during the OTAs and mini-camp, which may improve his value to the franchise.
Phillips, Toledo, Gibson, Byers, Erickson, and Martinez are vying for reserve roles on the 53-man roster, and one or two may wind up on the p-squad.