The Seahawks indeed are not going to break their bank for Germain Ifedi beyond this year.
As expected, the team has decided to decline its fifth-year contract option for 2020 on its starting right tackle. That puts Ifedi on track to be a free agent after this coming season.
Brady Henderson of espn.com first reported the Seahawks’ decision Thursday, citing a league source.
The cost for fifth-year options on NFL offensive linemen for next year is $10.35 million. That’s a few more million than Ifedi’s play has warranted through three years.
It’s almost $9 million more than his $1.58 million base salary for 2019. This is the final year of the four-year rookie contract Ifedi signed in 2016 worth $8.3 million as Seattle’s first-round draft choice that year.
First-round picks have four-year rookie contracts that automatically include team options for a fifth season at a cost set by the NFL, per the league’s collective bargaining agreement.
The Seahawks could still bring back Ifedi for 2020, on a new contract. That would be at their cost, not the $10.35 million the fifth-year option would have mandated. Ifedi has this year to prove he’s worthy of that opportunity to return.
Ifedi struggled in his rookie season when then-Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable moved him inside to guard. In 2017, Cable moved Ifedi back out to tackle, his position in college at Texas A&M.
Ifedi was the league’s most penalized player that ‘17 season. He often got false-start penalties getting out of his stance too early trying to get a jump start on faster edge pass rushers. And when he got out to those edge rushers he often got caught holding them. Seventeen of his 20 penalties that season were for holding or false starts.
Before last season Mike Solari replaced Cable as Seattle’s line coach. Ifedi improved in Solari’s more direct, physical, man-on-man blocking system. And he cut his penalties by almost half, to 11 in 2018.
Still, $10.35 million is too much for the Seahawks to pay in 2020 for their inconsistent offensive lineman the last few seasons.
They have promising Jamarco Jones coming off a season-ending ankle injury and surgery last August. Jones was Seattle’s fifth-round pick in 2018 from Ohio State. He was briefly starting at right tackle for Ifedi in his impressive preseason practices last summer, before his severe high-ankle sprain.
The Seahawks also have recently re-signed George Fant as a future option at tackle. Fant was Seattle’s unlikely starting left tackle as an undrafted rookie in 2016, months after leaving his college basketball career at Western Kentucky to become a football player. He was going to be Seattle’s starting left tackle in 2017 but tore ligaments in a preseason game that summer and had season-ending knee surgery.
He returned in 2018 to be the Seahawks’ effective, extra third tackle lined up as a tight end to help plow for the NFL’s top rushing offense.
Fant re-signed this offseason for one year and $3,095,000.
So the Seahawks have a decision to make on him and Ifedi after 2019.