With the NFL trading deadline approaching on Nov. 1, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have 16 days to upgrade the Seahawks most obvious deficiency, their cheaply assembled offensive line.
Because few college players understand pro-style blocking techniques these days, there aren’t an abundance of options. Veteran tackle Branden Albert, who this past summer retired from Jacksonville before deciding he wasn’t ready to retire, met with the Seahawks last week. He’s had some trouble staying healthy, but Albert is a two-time Pro Bowl selection who could provide immediate help.
So, too, could Houston tackle Duane Brown. A three-time Pro Bowler and first-team All Pro in 2012, Brown has spent 2017 as a holdout. Feel free to suspect he’s available.
As the Hawks are deliberating about solutions for what’s become an annual quandary, another candidate comes to mind: Future Hall of Fame left tackle Joe Thomas.
Thomas recently participated in his 10,000th consecutive snap. Think about this: 10,000 plays without missing a down. It’s an NFL record more impressive than Cal Ripken Jr.’s iron-man achievements in baseball.
Two obstacles impede the possibility of Thomas concluding his career in Seattle. The first relates to the salary cap: He’s earning $11.5-million this season, and is set to make $10-million in 2018, the final year of his contract. Lots of numbers would have to be crunched.
The other obstacle is primal. Since the Browns drafted him out of Wisconsin in 2008, Thomas has come to love Cleveland in a way only Cleveland residents, and those who are friends or relatives of Cleveland residents, can understand.
The Browns are terrible — a 33-17 defeat at Houston on Sunday was their 21st loss in 22 games — and figure to remain terrible for the next few years. No matter to Thomas, whose loyalty has been reciprocated by management.
Trading an all-time great player still at the top of his game — a well-regarded pro football analytics site ranks Thomas as the league’s most effective left tackle — would infuriate already infuriated Browns fans.
The odds of the Hawks swinging a deal for Thomas are as long as the odds were of Buster Douglas knocking out the supposedly invincible Mike Tyson.
So I’m telling you there’s a chance.
There’s a chance because Schneider and Carroll crave the adrenaline rush of pulling off blockbuster trades, the results of which have been mixed.
All-purpose Vikings receiver Percy Harvin to Seattle for the first and seventh-round picks of the 2013 draft, along with a third rounder in 2014? A failure. Harvin was rarely healthy enough to contribute on the field, and he didn’t mesh well with teammates off of it.
Saints tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick to Seattle for center Max Unger and a 2015 first-round pick? The jury’s still out on that one. Developing consistent chemistry between quarterback Russell Wilson an Graham has been a problem, and the last commodity the Hawks could afford to trade was a Pro Bowl-caliber offensive lineman.
But the fact Harvin was a bust, and assimilating Graham into the scheme continues to be a work in progress, shouldn’t discourage Carroll and Schneider from rolling the dice a third time.
Trading for a premier left tackle who never misses a snap would cost at least one first-round draft choice and several valuable other picks negotiated on an installment plan. A hefty price, by any measure, for a 32-year old whose decade-long run of good fortune is bound to end sooner or later.
Go for it. Offer Cleveland a deal too sweet to refuse. The Seahawks are looking at a schedule resembling that of a pool shark about to run the table, and gaining home-field advantage throughout the playoffs is plausible.
But in order to get back to the Super Bowl, and win the Super Bowl, then some holes must be plugged.
Thomas is not a miracle worker (although those 10,000 consecutive plays puts him in the conversation). Installing him as the Seahawks left tackle won’t transform a bewildered offensive line into a dominant offensive line.
What Thomas could do is give Wilson some assurance his clock won’t be cleaned every time he drops back in the pocket.
Speaking of clocks, there’s 16 days left for Carroll and Schneider to prove they’ve still got the magic touch that presaged a Super Bowl parade in Seattle.
Obtaining Joe Thomas for some prized draft picks complicates the future.
To hell with the future.