Analysis: 5 Centers Seahawks Could Target in Free Agency

With Russell Wilson pleading for Seattle to improve pass protection, upgrading at the center position should be a top offseason priority. Which players will be on the radar when free agency kicks off on March 17?
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Heading into free agency amid much uncertainty, the Seahawks have numerous holes to fill on both sides of the football with limited cap space and draft capital at their disposal.

With quarterback Russell Wilson going public last month about his frustrations taking too many hits behind a porous offensive line over the years, improving play in the trenches should be the top priority. In particular, while Ethan Pocic performed valiantly last season, center remains a position badly in need of an upgrade.

Luckily for the Seahawks, this year's free agent crop at the pivot position looks to be one of the better ones in recent years. As teams continue to release high-priced veterans to create cap space, it's not out of the question other quality centers could hit the market before free agency officially opens on March 17.

Which players could be on Seattle's radar? Here's a look at five free agent options who would be quality scheme fits and present true upgrades at the center position.

Corey Linsley

Set to be one of the most coveted free agents to hit the market, Linsley finally earned a much-deserved First-Team All-Pro nod anchoring the Packers offensive line in 2020. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed only one sack, two quarterback hits, and four quarterback pressures on 437 pass blocking snaps in a breakout campaign, earning a stellar 82.8 pass blocking grade. It was the fourth time in seven NFL seasons that he received at least an 80.0 grade in that department. He was also dominant in the ground game and flourished in coach Matt LeFluer's zone-centric scheme, posting an elite 87.8 run blocking grade opening up holes for Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, and Jamal Williams. While he has a chance to reset the market at the position and could earn upwards of $13 million per year, if the Seahawks truly want to show Wilson they've received the message about improving pass protection, nothing would make a better statement than signing the clear-cut No. 1 center available.

Update: Linsley has reportedly agreed to terms with the Chargers on a multi-year deal.

David Andrews

Returning to action after missing the entire 2019 season with a pulmonary embolism, Andrews started 12 games for the Patriots in 2020. While it wasn't the best season of his career, he still was decent in pass protection, yielding 12 pressures and two sacks on 370 pass plays. Per Sports Info Solutions, he also had only five blown blocks in the run game. Before sitting out 2019, the former undrafted signing out of Georgia made a strong case as a top five center in the league, starting 46 out of 48 possible regular season games and playing a starring role in the trenches for two Super Bowl championship squads. His best season came in 2017, when he finished with an 84.7 overall grade on Pro Football Focus, the fourth-best at his position. Considering he's only going to be 29 in July, has championship pedigree, and has consistently performed at a high level, he should have no shortage of suitors in free agency and the Seahawks could be in the mix.

Austin Reiter

If there's an under-the-radar center who Seattle would be wise to make a push for, it may be Reiter, who has come into his own as a starting center for Kansas City over the past two seasons. Formerly a seventh-round pick for the Washington Football Team, he played less than 300 snaps in his first three NFL seasons with the Browns and Chiefs. But since becoming a starter in 2019, he's been one of the best pass protecting centers in the league, allowing a combined 22 pressures on over 1,400 pass protection snaps. Last season, he didn't surrender a single sack or quarterback hit, earning him the sixth-best pass blocking grade on Pro Football Focus. He hasn't been quite as effective in the run blocking department, earning 63.1 and 51.2 grades, which ranked 21st and 29th in 2020 and 2019 respectively. But if protecting Wilson is priority No. 1, Reiter would instantly provide an upgrade and may be a bit more affordable.

Ted Karras

After signing a one-year contract with the Dolphins, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Karras performed as a middle-of-the-road starter in 2020, earning the 19th best overall grade (65.3) from Pro Football Focus. While he only allowed 11 pressures and a pair of sacks on 667 pass blocking snaps, he wasn't quite as sharp opening up lanes for Miami's running backs, as Sports Info Solutions charged him with 14 blown blocks in the run game. But with the Patriots in 2019 - ironically, he was replacing Andrews - he was more proficient in this area of his game, finishing a respectable 15th out of 33 qualified centers on Pro Football Focus. He also has only been penalized nine times in over 2,500 career snaps and has played extensive snaps at right guard. Set to turn 28 years old later this month, he's still a young player with plenty of upside with just two years as a full-time starter under his belt and would be a solid scheme fit in Seattle.

Austin Blythe

Though he's not a star by any means, the 28-year old Blythe has been a reliable component of the Rams' offensive line for the past three seasons. He started 47 out of 48 regular season games dating back to the start of the 2018 season, including transitioning to center and starting all 16 games there in 2020. In his first extended action at the pivot position, he earned the 13th best grade (69.0) out of 35 qualified centers via Pro Football Focus, finishing 10 spots higher than Pocic in large part due to his stellar performance as a run blocker. Blythe did struggle in pass protection, however, allowing four sacks and eight quarterback hits while receiving a dismal 52.5 grade. Still, given his familiarity with Waldron from their time in Los Angeles together and the fact he should be far cheaper than the aforementioned options, he could be a strong backup plan for the Seahawks.