Seahawks Urged to Bring Back Former High NFL Draft Pick

Pete Carroll

Getty Head coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks are being encouraged to bring back one of the team's former second-round picks.

With Geno Smith re-signed, the Seattle Seahawks can turn their attention to their next biggest need on offense. Veteran center Austin Blythe announced his plan to retire on March 1, giving the Seahawks a hole in the middle of their offensive line.

Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz proposed the Seahawks filling that hole with a familiar face — former Seattle second-round draft pick Ethan Pocic.

“How about a homecoming from a prodigal son? Pocic was originally a second-round Seattle draft pick in 2017, but he struggled with injuries. He left in free agency last year, signed a one-year deal with Cleveland and had a breakout season, ranking fourth in RBWR and fifth in PBWR among centers.”

Pocic started 13 games for the Cleveland Browns last season. He started 40 games for the Seahawks during the first five years of his career.

Ethan Pocic Experienced Breakout 2022 Season

The veteran center showed signs of improvement with the Seahawks in 2021. He recorded a Pro Football Focus player grade of 67.3, including 76.0 in run blocking. But he was still a liability in pass protection, and the average overall PFF player grade he earned during his first four seasons was 49.9 (out of 100).

With those grades in mind, it made sense for the Seahawks to explore other center options last offseason.

But Pocic experienced the best season of his career in 2022 according to multiple analytic websites that measure offensive line play. The PFF player grades ranked Pocic the third-best center in the NFL last season.

Pocic particularly excelled at run blocking (79.1 grade), but he was also very good in pass protection (71.5 grade). PFF awarded him the best grades of his career in both categories.

Overall, he earned a 79.0 PFF player grade. Even with his better grades from the 2021 season, Pocic came into last fall with a career PFF player grade of 53.3.

If Pocic could repeat his 2022 performance this fall, he would likely be an upgrade for the Seahawks at center. While Blythe solidified the center of Seahawks offensive line last season, he earned just a 54.7 PFF player grade.

Pocic’s Market Value in NFL Free Agency

Based on the PFF player grades, Pocic is the best available center in NFL free agency this offseason “by a decent margin.” That could mean a costly contract for the Seahawks to bring home their 2017 second-round pick.

The good news for the Seahawks, though, is he is not likely to stay where he maximized his potential. The Browns already have more than $30 million in cap dollars dedicated to starting guards Wyatt Teller and Joel Bitonio. The team’s starting offensive tackles also have contracts with salaries exceeding $6 million for 2023.

Pocic will likely hit free agency, giving the Seahawks a chance to negotiate a new deal.

Spotrac estimated that Pocic will be worth a four-year, $28.8 million contract in free agency. PFF projected a similar average annual salary for Pocic, but a three-year contract with $21 million total, including $11 million guaranteed.

With Seahawks signing Smith to a three-year, $105 million deal, the team doesn’t have a lot of cap space remaining. Head coach Pete Carroll discussed the team’s cap situation while talking to Brock Huard and Mike Salk on ESPN radio on March 7.

“We have some flexibility. We don’t have a lot, but we have some flexibility,” Carroll said. “We have to be really smart, really judicious about every step of the way here.”

Seattle’s cap situation could make bringing back Pocic difficult.

But the Seahawks must address center in some fashion this offseason. If the team can restructure some salaries to create more space, acquiring Pocic is Seattle’s best quick fix at center this offseason.

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