The Seattle Seahawks went into this year's free-agency period hoping to take smart gambles on veteran offensive linemen.
Their first move was to sign Luke Joeckel to a one-year contract, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Terms: One year, $8 million
ESPN 150 ranking: No. 54
Grade C+: This is a low-risk gamble. The Seahawks ranked 20th in cap space entering free agency and may have some interest in signing center Justin Britt and safety Kam Chancellor to contract extensions. In other words, they were not going to break the bank on offensive linemen. Joeckel was a highly touted prospect coming out of Texas A&M in 2013, and he showed the type of athleticism the Seahawks are looking for. Signing Joeckel is not going to completely fix Seattle's issues, but if the Seahawks can get him to play at an average starter's level, this will be a low-cost upgrade.
What it means: The Seahawks are doing some shuffling on the offensive line. Joeckel started 35 games at left tackle in his first three seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars but moved inside to left guard last season. The Seahawks' biggest need is at tackle, where they have George Fant on the left side and Garry Gilliam on the right side. Joeckel could get a chance to compete at one of those spots. They have two other options. One would be to add another starting-caliber tackle and have Joeckel compete for playing time at guard. Or the Seahawks could give Germain Ifedi a shot at tackle. They initially pegged Ifedi as a right tackle when they drafted him in the first round last year but then moved him to right guard. Coach Pete Carroll has said the plan is to keep Ifedi at guard, but that could obviously change. At the very least, Joeckel would be a depth option with positional versatility.
What's the risk? Considering it's only a one-year deal, there's not great risk. When the contract is official, we'll find out how much of the $8 million is guaranteed and how much is tied into bonuses. The risk is in not adequately addressing the offensive line. Joeckel has failed to live up to expectations since Jacksonville selected him No. 2 overall in the 2013 draft. And there are durability concerns as well. He tore the ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus in his left knee last year, ending his season after four games. In 2013, Joeckel suffered a fractured ankle and missed 11 games. Given the injuries, does he still have the athleticism to play tackle? That's the question the Seahawks will have to answer in the months ahead. Assessing this move will be easier once we see what else the Seahawks do to improve their offensive line.