The Seattle Seahawks let center Chris Spencer walk in free agency last weekend, turning the heat up on third-year player Max Unger. Unger, who played right guard at University of Oregon and throughout the majority of his first season in Seattle, will be the pivotal cog on a line that features two rookies, a second year player and veteran left guard Robert Gallery.
Seattle is entrenched in a steady rebuild and have made the smart decision to look to the strengths of their younger players as they try to fill those holes. Unger, though, could use some solid mentoring as he continues the transition from Pac-10 guard to NFL center.
There are a handful of veteran free agent centers on the market right now, but the name that stands out is Olin Kreutz.
Kreutz was expected to re-sign with the Bears this offseason until negotiations suddenly derailed. Now Kreutz, who is entering his 14th season with the NFL, finds himself deciding between playing out his effectiveness in the league or ending his legacy as a one-team stalwart.
If Kreutz can (as his agent suggested this evening) be lured back to the NFL, Seattle would be a tidy fit.
They've just agreed to terms with tight end Zach Miller in addition to having added former Minnesota star receiver Sydney Rice and extending breakout receiver Mike Williams' contract.
The news has the blogosphere erupting with predictions for a playoff repeat.
Kreutz is not asking for the kind of money that made him the league's highest paid center just a few years ago. Reports indicate that talks broke down over a measly $500,000. Somehow, Kreutz's leadership, talents and the consistency he brings to Chicago's offensive line were only worth $4 million—and not a penny more—to the Bears.
Kreutz was looking, simply, for a salary that splits the difference between the money he made last year ($3 million) and the money his last contract averaged annually ($5.8 million).
Kreutz (36) isn't asking for a long-term contract. The Bears had only offered him a one-year deal, which he seemed fine with.
Plus, Kreutz is known for the beastliness (albeit a more subtle version) which offensive line coach Tom Cable appreciates in his players—that same quality that earned starting right tackle James Carpenter a first-round selection in April.
In regularly scheduled lockout-less league programming, Unger and the other members of Seattle's revamped O-line would have time to work out the kinks and get to know one another and the new offense that will be implemented by the Seahawks this year.
As it stands, much of their period of adjustment will take place during the preseason and is likely to bleed into regular season play as well. Seattle, who made headlines last season as the first 7-9 team to make the playoffs, cannot afford to risk losses while their players jell.
Seattle spends a lot of time—and suffers significant losses—bargain pricing their players, and could use some of their cap space to offer Kreutz the same deal he wanted in Chicago. In doing so, they'd add much needed depth to their roster, veteran leadership to a very young offense and expedite the growth of their young center of the future.