Seahawks' offseason focus will be on protecting Russell Wilson

Ad Pro Test Clip 104 - March 2017 (1:11)

Ad Pro Test Clip 104 - March 2017 (1:11)

On the day following the Seattle Seahawks' divisional round loss to the Carolina Panthers last month, Pete Carroll was asked about the state of the team's offensive line.

"I think it’s still a work in progress," Carroll said. "I don’t think we’ve nailed it yet. I think this needs to be a really competitive spot again, and we’re going to work really hard to build it up. For the course of the season, we weren’t consistent enough. We found a real good rhythm, but we can’t start and go through that again. We don’t want to have to experience that if we don’t have to, if we can avoid it."

When the Seahawks got off to a 2-4 start last season, Carroll was peppered with questions about the offensive line on a weekly basis. While the group certainly improved as the team went on a run in the second half of the season, all indications are that upgrading the offensive line will be a focus in the months ahead.

Russell Wilson was sacked on 7.7 percent of his dropbacks, the fifth-highest mark in the league. In the Week 16 loss to the St. Louis Rams and the first half against the Panthers, the Seahawks got manhandled up front.

Overall, the improvement offensively was one of the most promising takeaways from the 2015 season. The Seahawks ranked second in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, and Wilson was fantastic, specifically in the second half of the season. His passer rating of 118.6 on throws from inside the pocket was tops in the league.

Wilson is only 27 years old. He has shown that when he has time, he can pick defenses apart from the pocket and play within the structure of the offense.

In terms of pass-catching weapons, the only player the Seahawks could potentially lose is wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, who is an unrestricted free agent. But there's reason to believe this should be one of the best passing games in the NFL next season. That is, if they can protect Wilson.

Left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy are both unrestricted free agents. Carroll was pleased that Patrick Lewis gave the team a boost at center, but he didn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement for Lewis' prospects going forward.

"We didn’t need him to be the best center in the NFL, but we needed him to be a solid guy," Carroll said. "He contributed to it and became a very good part of it."

Left guard Justin Britt was up and down, and right tackle Garry Gilliam was a full-time starter at right tackle for the first time in his career.

General manager John Schneider has pointed out that most teams in the NFL are looking for offensive line help, and the demand outweighs the supply. On the Seahawks' current roster, Mark Glowinski should compete for playing time and could possibly replace Sweezy. The team hopes to develop prospects like Kristjan Sokoli and Terry Poole.

"I think that’s a real area of focus again, so we’ll be talking about it," Carroll said. "We’ve got a couple unrestricted guys there. We’re going to have to deal with how that works out. There’s just stuff we’re going to have to work through. But we are young and we are athletic. And we do like our guys. I like the fact that Glowinksi got a chance to play. We’ll see how all of that works out. It will be exciting. It’s a really important area for us, of course."

Looking at the roster as a whole, the Seahawks don't have a ton of needs. Defensively, they have to come up with a plan at defensive tackle, strongside linebacker and right cornerback. But none of those spots should take up significant financial resources.

Offensively, the Seahawks are in good shape at the skill positions. It's all about the guys up front.

In terms of cap space, they are in the middle of the pack. With free agency approaching next month, if there's one area where the Seahawks could make a splash, it's on the offensive line.