Seahawks 2019 Awards: Offensive Lineman of the Year
Following a season-ending loss in the NFC Divisional Round, the Seahawk Maven writing staff will be selecting award winners for the Seahawks successful 2019 campaign. Continuing our end-of-the-season awards, a much-improved Germain Ifedi stood out as the Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Since arriving as a tandem in 2010, Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have been averse to signing off on the fifth-year option for first-round picks.
The Seahawks chose to maintain status quo last May by opting not to pick up tackle Germain Ifedi’s fifth-year option. If they would’ve exercised the option, the fourth-year tackle would’ve earned north of $10 million in 2020, too expensive of a price tag for the organization.
“Them not picking it up? Football’s a business,” Ifedi told reporters in May. “And, you know, they made a business decision. I can’t feel one way or the other about it. It is what it is.”
Rather than become dejected by Seattle’s decision, Ifedi took a different approach viewing the move as potentially being a positive one for him. Though he’d miss out on a big paycheck, he would have the ability to build his value for another season before hitting the free agent market and seeking lucrative money on a long-term deal.
While the 25-year old Ifedi still has a lot of room to improve – his 13 penalties ranked in the top five among NFL players in 2019 and fans will make sure you know every time he false starts – he took several steps forward in his second year working with Seahawks line coach Mike Solari.
As the rest of Seattle’s offensive line battled injuries and failed to meet expectations, Ifedi started all 16 games and showed improvements in pass protection, particularly against more athletic edge rushers. After starting off the season giving up three sacks in the first five games, he gave up just three sacks over the final 11 games per Pro Football Reference, exhibiting excellent improvement in his pass sets.
The turning point came against Cleveland in Week 6, as Ifedi held former Texas A&M teammate Myles Garrett in check during a 32-28 comeback win. One particular block stuffed a spin move by Garrett, allowing Russell Wilson to climb the pocket and find Jaron Brown for a touchdown.
For a second straight year, Ifedi was also an integral part of Seattle’s top-five rushing attack, helping open up running lanes for Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, who combined for over 1,600 yards.
Prior to Seattle’s playoff loss in Green Bay during the divisional round, Carroll gave Ifedi another vote of confidence with his pending free agency drawing closer.
“I think he’s been solid throughout the year. He has been very consistent. He’s been a solid performer. He’s been one of the real anchors. He’s been able to stay out there the whole time which has been good. He continues to grow as a pro and he’s doing a nice job.”
Set to turn 26 this summer, Ifedi’s age and promising development under Solari should give him no shortage of suitors. If he hits the market on March 18, there’s a very strong chance he’ll be given at least one offer from a line-needy team well outside Seattle’s financial threshold.
Last year, Ja’Wuan James signed a four-year, $52 million deal with Denver to headline several outlandish deals handed out to offensive tackles. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see at least one team throw an offer at Ifedi in the same ballpark.
But ever since the team declined his option, Carroll has been steadfast in expressing his desire to keep Ifedi in the fold and he mentioned in his final press conference on Monday that he hopes to keep Seattle’s line intact as much as possible moving into 2020.
After improving as the organization hoped he would and proving himself as the Seahawks most consistent lineman in an 11-win season, a potential return at the right price shouldn’t be ruled out.
Previous Seahawk Maven award winners:
Comeback Player of the Year: K.J. Wright
Most Improved Player: Rasheem Green