At least the sun finally came out here for T.J. Lang’s free-agent visit to Seattle.
Maybe he’s getting the T.J. seaplane treatment. That’s the uniquely Northwest arrival to the team’s Lake Washington-side headquarters that wowed wide receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh and his family before he signed here as a free agent in March 2009.
But it’s going to take a ton more than that for the Seahawks to land Lang, the Pro Bowl guard from the Green Bay Packers.
The team in search of experience and quality on its iffy offensive line was believed to be hosting the 29-year-old Lang Friday afternoon, the second day of the NFL free-agency period.
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Seahawks general manager John Schneider has recruited Lang onto an NFL team before: the 2009 Packers. Schneider was Green Bay’s director of football operations that year when it drafted Lang in the fourth round.
Schneider was part of the decision-making process that settled on Lang being a tackle for his rookie season, and again in parts of 2010, ‘11 and ‘12 for the Packers. Schneider left in 2010 to become Seattle’s first-time GM.
Schneider could be going through that same position-determining process eight years later. This free-agent class is weak -- and expensive -- at tackle. The class for next month’s draft is similarly inflated. So the Seahawks have the chance to get creative with Schneider’s background with Lang, to come up with a homemade solution to what Schneider last week called “a dearth at the position.”
Coach Pete Carroll, veteran line coach Tom Cable and Schneider last week at the NFL combine stressed how important continuity is on their young line between the 2016 and ‘17. But Carroll and Schneider also made it a goal to get more experienced that Seattle was up front leading the offense last season.
The continuity appears to be with the three interior blockers. Unless the coaches have been blowing smoke at us since October, they like Mark Glowinski starting at left guard, love Justin Britt’s emergence at center, at won’t move Germain Ifedi from starting at right guard, where he was in 2016, to right tackle, where he was at Texas A&M before Seattle drafted him in the first round last year.
Thursday’s agreement with Jacksonville free agent Luke Joeckel, 25, for a one-year deal believed to be worth up to $8 million including incentives hints the Seahawks view him as a potential replacement for either 2016 undrafted rookie college basketball player George Fant at left tackle or 2014 undrafted college tight end Garry Gilliam at right tackle. These Seahawks don’t spend $8 million per year on guards -- or least haven’t yet.
Just because the Seahawks tendered Gilliam an orignal-round, lowest-level offer of $1,797,000 for 2017 on Thursday as a restricted free agent doesn’t necessarily mean he’s locked to Seattle for this year. That tender offer is not guaranteed. Seattle tendered Patrick Lewis and its starter at center over the final half of the 2015 season signed the $1,671,000 to play in 2016. Then the Seahawks waived him before the regular season began.
The more-accomplished Lang - 16 postseason games, including a Super Bowl, since 2009 for Green Bay -- may command per year at least what the OL-needy Minnesota Vikings reportedly agreed to pay Carolina free-agent tackle Mike Remmers on Friday (NFL Network reported five years, $30 million.) Former Seahawk Russell Okung reportedly got four years and $53 million (an annual average of $13.25 million) from the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. So if the Seahawks view Lang as a potential answer at tackle, they will have to answer for the current market at that overvalued, scarce position.
Lang’s leverage is a reported visit he took Thursday with the Detroit Lions plus interest in possibly returning to Green Bay.
Denver canceled a visit with it had scheduled with Lang for Saturday, after the Broncos signed a new guard.
The Seahawks had $25.4 million of salary-cap space as of Friday, 18th-most in the league, according to overthecap.com.
Besides the always paramount issue of money, Seattle other big consideration while visiting with Lang is more black and white: Is he or is he not healthy enough to sign?
The Seahawks were almost assuredly was asking Lang to undergo a medical evaluation with team doctors during his visit. He had arthroscopic surgery on his hip soon after Green Bay lost to Atlanta in January’s NFC title game. Packers coach Mike McCarthy said at the time he didn’t expect Lang to be on the field until at least training camp in late July. Lang also broke his foot in a game last season at Tennessee. He injured it against the Falcons in the conference championship. Those injuries are why Lang did not play in the most recent Pro Bowl, for which he got selected for his first time.
If Lang convinces the Seahawks’ doctors his hip and foot are healing as planned, and if the recuperation drops his price into a range the team can embrace, we might be finding out how serious Seattle is about upgrading its offensive line with more experience.
By the way, Friday was Packers free-agent day at Seahawks headquarters. Running back Eddie Lacy was also believed to be visiting- and probably with Seahawks doctors, as well.
The 26-year-old Lacy was a Pro Bowl back with 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2013. He followed that with 1,139 yards rushing with nine scores and another Pro Bowl selection in 2014. After Lacy dipped to 758 yards and three TDs on the ground in 2015, Packers coach Mike McCarthy told Lacy he needed to lose weight. He’s listed at 234 pounds, but was thought to have gotten above 260 last year. The Packers put him on injured reserve in October with an ankle injury that needed surgery.
His representatives, Sports Trust Advisors, posted on Twitter that he will be visiting Seattle, Minnesota and Green Bay through this weekend.