Seahawks 2021 Free Agent Primer: Ethan Pocic

After battling a plethora of injuries in the previous two seasons, Pocic bounced back during the final year of his rookie contract by providing Seattle with stability at the center position. Now, the only question is: should he be brought back as the long-term starter?
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Following an early Wild Card round exit, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into an offseason that could be one of the most significant of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era.

When the new 2021 league year kicks off in March, Seattle will have a whopping 24 players set to become unrestricted free agents. Four players will be restricted free agents, while six will be exclusive rights free agents and several others will be entering the final year of their current contracts ready to negotiate extensions, including safety Jamal Adams.

Over the next several weeks, I will break down each and every one of the Seahawks' unrestricted free agents by revisiting their 2020 seasons, assessing why they should or should not be re-signed, breaking down an ideal contract, and making an early prediction on whether or not the player will return in 2021.

Continuing the series, Ethan Pocic rebounded from two dreadful, injury-marred seasons to step in as a reliable starter at center for the Seahawks. But was his performance enough to warrant a new contract at the pivot position?

Season In Review

Entering training camp as a bit of an afterthought after missing 18 games due to injury in the previous two seasons, Pocic entered training camp as the starter at center and beat out B.J. Finney to win the job. He wound up starting in 15 of Seattle's 17 games, including in the wild card round against the Los Angeles Rams, playing a career-high 932 snaps. He did miss two games in the middle of the season recovering from a concussion, but otherwise, he enjoyed the healthiest season of his career.

Why Seattle Should Re-Sign Him

After releasing long-time starter Justin Britt in May, Pocic capitalized on his first opportunity to play his natural position in the NFL, winning the starting job early in training camp in a competition against Finney that never truly materialized. Starting a career-high 14 regular season games, he made tremendous strides in pass protection keeping Russell Wilson clean, allowing only two sacks, three quarterback hits, and 20 total pressures during the regular season per Pro Football Focus. In his first two NFL seasons alone, he allowed eight sacks on 577 pass blocking snaps. He also committed just three penalties on over 900 offensive snaps, bringing much-needed stability to the middle of Seattle's offensive line. Only 25 years old, he has plenty of room to continue improving in those areas.

Why Seattle Should Let Him Walk

As well as Pocic held up in pass protection, he continued to struggle as a run blocker, which remains a key part of Seattle's offensive attack. Even after bulking up to 320 pounds, he still has issues moving defenders off the snap and his inability to create push consistently hurt the Seahawks' ground game between the tackles. Per Sports Info Solutions, he had eight blown blocks in the run game and Pro Football Focus gave him a mediocre 61.9 run blocking grade, which ranked 23rd out of 30 qualified centers with over 700 offensive snaps. In the heat of the playoffs, Pocic was further exposed against the Rams' fierce defensive front, failing to get the job done as a run blocker while allowing a pair of pressures and drawing a pair of holding penalties that would have otherwise resulted in sacks.

Ideal Contract

1 year at $3 million

Prediction

When it comes to deciding what to do with Pocic, the Seahawks find themselves in a bit of a pickle. Did he improve substantially in 2020? Absolutely. But did he show that he's the long-term answer at center? That's up for debate, especially considering how poorly he played in the last three games of the season. If new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron implements more of an outside zone-oriented run game similar to what the Rams deploy, his quickness and second-level blocking savvy could be an asset. But his continued struggles winning at the point of attack in the trenches are a cause for concern and it's worth wondering if he'll get much better in that regard. Given his injury history, interest on the market will likely be lukewarm and with only four draft picks and minimal salary cap space, bringing him back on a team-friendly one-year deal makes sense and additional competition could be brought in if necessary.

Previous Seahawks Free Agent Primers

Chris Carson

K.J. Wright

Shaquill Griffin

Mike Iupati

Benson Mayowa

Quinton Dunbar