A Seattle Seahawks starter is calling it a career after just seven seasons.
Center Austin Blythe — who started all 17 regular season games along with the NFC Wild Card showdown versus the San Francisco 49ers — is retiring. The 30-year-old made the announcement over his Instagram on Tuesday, February 28.
“I always told myself I wouldn’t do some long winded retirement post, but I’m not sure how to leave behind a game that’s afforded myself, and my family, so many opportunities without giving it at least some words,” Blythe wrote. “The last 7 years have been nothing short of amazing. For a short, unathletic, undersized kid from Iowa, I’ve played a lot of football, met countless coaches and teammates that I can call friends, and made enough memories for myself and my family to last a lifetime. I am so grateful, and extremely blessed, to have played the game for any amount of time, let alone 7 years.”
Seahawks Have Void at Center Following Austin Blythe’s Retirement
The veteran center was due to become a free agent this offseason after spending a season with the Seahawks. Blythe had signed a one-year, $4 million deal last offseason with Seattle after spending a season with the Kansas City Chiefs as a reserve offensive lineman. Prior to his one-year stint with the Chiefs, the former seventh-round draft selection had a four-year stint with the Los Angeles Rams, three of which were spent as a starter.
As Brady Henderson of ESPN noted shortly after Blythe’s retirement, the starting center was known as an “elite communicator.” Furthermore, Blythe ranked 13th in ESPN’s pass block win rate among centers.
“He started every game and finished 13th in ESPN’s pass block win rate among centers,” said Henderson. “The 6-foot-2, 298-pounder repeatedly drew praise from teammates and coaches for his ability to get the rest of the offensive line on the same page before the snap, with position coach Andy Dickerson at one point referring to him as an ‘elite communicator.'”
Blythe’s leadership along the offensive line helped Seattle’s offense rank ninth in the league in scoring. With Blythe now out of the picture, Seattle’s top projected starting center is Kyle Fuller, who will enter his fourth season with the franchise in 2023. Fuller initially entered the league as a late-round draft choice in 2017 and has started 12 of his 51 appearances in the league. During his Seahawks tenure, Fuller has started 10 of his 40 games.
Seahawks Are ‘Connected’ With QBs in 2023 Draft Class
While the Seahawks may be looking to re-sign quarterback Geno Smith, that doesn’t mean they’re not looking for quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL draft.
Head coach Pete Carroll — who is currently at the NFL scouting combine — said that Seattle is “totally connected” with the quarterbacks in this year’s draft.
“We are totally connected to the quarterbacks that are coming out,” Carroll said. “This is a really huge opportunity for us. It’s a rare opportunity. We’ve been drafting in the low 20s for such a long time; you just don’t get the chance with these guys. So we’re deeply involved with all that.”
It makes sense that the Seahawks would be targeting a quarterback in this year’s draft class. Backup quarterback Drew Lock is a free agent and Seattle doesn’t have any experienced quarterbacks under contract for next season.
Assuming Seattle does bring back Smith, they still need a backup quarterback. Considering this year’s draft class is very rich with talented quarterbacks, there’s no reason why Seattle shouldn’t take a look — especially considering they have two first-round and second-round draft picks each.