The Seattle Seahawks have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent offensive lineman, Chester Pitts.
Seattle had been openly pursuing Pitts over the last couple weeks, but after passing up the opportunity to watch his workout in Arizona on July 20, it appeared the team’s interest had faded.
Not so, apparently, as the eight-year veteran signed on with the Seahawks in a deal worth $2 million.
Seattle released linebacker Anthony Heygood to make room on the roster. The more baffling move is that they also released Robert Henderson, the defensive end Seattle acquired in a trade that sent offensive lineman Rob Sims to Detroit, along with a draft pick.
Pitts, 31, worked under Seahawks’ offensive line coach Alex Gibbs when he held the same title for the Houston Texans. Beginning in his 2002 rookie season, Pitts started 114 consecutive games before a knee injury sidelined him after week two of 2009.
Pitts appears to have recovered from the micro-fracture surgery which kept him out for the remainder of the season. Whether he can return to his old form is yet to be seen. Even if he doesn’t, he still has a good shot at starting on a Seattle team that needs all the help it can get up front.
Pitts, of course, also brings an ever-so-valuable veteran presence to an offensive line featuring rookie left tackle, Russell Okung, and second year center/guard, Max Unger. Ben Hamilton was brought in from Denver to fill the hole at left guard and guide Okung into maturity. Now, Pitts can play that role on the right side with Unger, as well as use his 6’4” 308-pound frame to protect Matt Hasselbeck and Seattle’s running backs.
Pitts started his career as the franchise left tackle, protecting David Carr’s blind side, after being drafted 50th overall in 2002. He moved to left guard in 2006 where he remained until his week-two injury last season.
The Seahawks need a solid offensive line if they have any hope of success in the upcoming season. They have taken some healthy steps in the right direction and hopefully Pitts is another instrumental tool in an offense which badly needs revival. Last season the offensive line may as well have been made of popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue, as ten players started on the O-line at different times in 2009.
Newcomers Okung and Hamilton will start on the left side. Incumbent right tackle, Ray Willis, will presumably hold a spot in the starting lineup as he is the only Seahawks offensive lineman to start all 16 games in 2009. Pitts is not yet a lock for a starting job but, he has an excellent shot at right guard. He is a smart player who has experience with the zone-blocking scheme of Alex Gibbs.
That leaves one spot on the front line and Max Unger is the assumed starter. Chris Spencer has battled with injuries over the last couple seasons and commits an inordinate number of false starts for a center.
Chris Spencer and Sean Locklear will provide decent depth for an O-line pool that could not have been any shallower last year.
In 2010 the Seahawks may actually be able to start the same five players in all 16 games.