Though coach Pete Carroll preached maintaining continuity along the offensive line back in January, the Seahawks opted to undergo a substantial overhaul in the trenches this offseason.
Along with losing former starting right tackle Germain Ifedi and key swing tackle George Fant in free agency, Seattle also released starting center Justin Britt and right guard D.J. Fluker in salary cap-related moves. Though guard Mike Iupati was re-signed, it's possible the team could have four new starters up front in 2020.
Such turnover would be potentially problematic under normal circumstances with OTAs and minicamps. In an offseason unlike any other due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Carroll knows trying to build chemistry on the offensive line will be one of the Seahawks' biggest challenges when training camp opens.
“I think that may be the area that takes the biggest hit because of the intricacies and continuity of it,” Carroll commented. “I have learned that that will be an area of great focus and concern when we come back, just recognizing and respecting that that may be the last group to really get tied together. So we’re really going to have to do a great job in that area.”
Without any on-field work this spring, breaking in three or four new starters in a matter of weeks is far from ideal. But if there's a silver lining, Seattle planned accordingly by signing several veterans with ample starting experience to ease the transition.
Though his name hasn't received much buzz to this point, given the limited practice time before games are expected to start in September, veteran guard Chance Warmack may be an under-the-radar signing capable of making noise in camp for the Seahawks.
Once a top-10 pick for the Titans back in the 2013 NFL Draft, Warmack didn't play at all in 2019, taking the season off to get his body right after battling multiple injuries in recent seasons. He last suited up for nine games with the Eagles back in 2018, playing a grand total of seven offensive snaps.
Upon his arrival in Tennessee, Warmack got off to a solid start in his NFL career, starting all 16 games in each of his first two seasons with the Titans at right guard. As a rookie, he received a respectable 73.3 grade from Pro Football Focus and followed up with an 81.0 grade in 2014, proving himself worthy of a first-round selection.
But after a somewhat disappointing 2015 campaign, injuries and inconsistent play dogged Warmack. Playing in just two games in 2016, he landed on injured reserve with a hand injury and missed the rest of the season.
Having already declined his fifth-year option, the Titans chose not to re-sign Warmack, letting him hit free agency. With few suitors for his services coming off injury, he signed a one-year, $1.51 million deal with the Eagles and started three games at left guard for the eventual Super Bowl champions.
Though he hasn't started a game since 2017, the 323-pound Warmack fits the physical and stylistic profile coach Mike Solari prefers at the guard positions. Once starting alongside Fluker at Alabama, he developed a reputation as one of the nation's nastiest run blockers knocking opponents off the ball and creating running room for Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, and T.J. Yeldon.
As he attempts to jumpstart his career, the 28-year old Warmack will face plenty of competition simply trying to make Seattle's roster. Along with re-signing Iupati and Jordan Simmons, the team drafted LSU guard Damien Lewis in the third round of April's draft, further crowding a position group already featuring Phil Haynes, Jamarco Jones, Ethan Pocic, and Jordan Roos.
Playing in an offensive scheme that caters well to his strengths, however, Warmack couldn't ask for a better situation to rectify his career under the tutelage of Solari, who proved instrumental in helping Fluker thrive in Seattle after bouncing around with multiple teams.
Along with being an excellent style fit as a mauling road grader, the fact Warmack has started 51 games in the NFL will be extra beneficial this year. As the Seahawks try to put together a quality offensive line in quick order, that experience should give him a major advantage over most of his competitors.
While Warmack's chances of earning a starting role may seem slim, asking a rookie such as Lewis to start right away under such difficult circumstances may not be the wisest move. If he's healthy and quickly shakes off the rust from not playing at all last year, he should have a legitimate opportunity to compete for playing time at either guard spot.