J.J. Watt Joining NFC West Creates More Urgency for Seahawks to Upgrade Offensive Line

Given Russell Wilson's frustrations gone public, Seattle already needed to make a big splash in free agency to address pass protection. With another superstar pass rusher now in the division, it's imperative the team makes substantial investments in the trenches.
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Much to the dismay of Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, another future Hall of Fame pass rusher has found his way to the NFC West.

After considering several teams following his release by the Texans, as reported by the player himself, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt has agreed to terms with the Cardinals on a two-year, $31 million deal. He will now reunite with receiver DeAndre Hopkins and form a dynamic tandem with Chandler Jones on their defensive line.

As if Seattle didn't already have a pressing need to improve its offensive line, the franchise certainly does now. With Mike Iupati retiring and Ethan Pocic heading towards free agency, the team already had major holes to fill at left guard and center before Wilson went public airing about his frustrations with pass protection last month.

With Watt and Jones teaming up in Arizona, Nick Bosa set to return from an ACL tear in San Francisco, and Aaron Donald still terrorizing opposing quarterbacks in Los Angeles, Seattle will once again face a murderer's row of pass rushers in the NFC West next season. Sticking with status quo or trying to replace Iupati and Pocic with bargain-bin options simply won't cut it.

The problem? General manager John Schneider has very little salary cap room to work with currently and the Seahawks only have four draft picks. OverTheCap.com estimates the team has less than $2 million in effective cap space and after trading for safety Jamal Adams last July, they only have four picks in April's draft.

Granted, there are moves that can be made by Schneider to create financial flexibility before free agency, including restructuring contracts and extending several veterans with only one year left under contract to lower their 2021 cap hit. Trades also remain an option to open up cap space and acquire draft capital in the process.

But no matter what, Schneider will have to get creative given the number of key players set to hit free agency and how much it will cost to add a premium talent such as center Corey Linsley or guard Brandon Scherff. As the rest of the NFC West continues to improve with moves such as Watt signing with the Cardinals, the pressure keeps mounting for the Seahawks to make a bold addition of their own to ensure Wilson is protected.

In the past, Seattle hasn't been willing to spend money along the offensive line, ranking near the bottom of the league for that positional group in each of the past seven seasons. Considering Wilson's pleas and the amount of pass rushing talent in the division, if the organization wants to stay in the title hunt and keep its quarterback happy and upright, Schneider has no choice but to buck that trend and invest in a proven, game-changing talent up front.