The Seahawks have gone back into what’s been risky business for them recently: signing free-agent offensive linemen.
Seattle’s latest import in an attempt to fix its biggest issue for years is D.J. Fluker. The guard and tackle, the 11th-overall choice in the 2013 draft by the Chargers, agreed on Tuesday to sign a one-year contract with the Seahawks. That is according to what his agent, Deryk Gilmore, confirmed to The News Tribune.
Gilmore said Fluker is healthy after a toe injury ended his 2017 season after six starts with the New York Giants. The agent also said the Seahawks have told Fluker they are interested in him playing right guard, at least initially.
Fluker, who turned 27 this month, played last season for the Giants and offensive line coach Mike Solari. The Seahawks hired Solari in January to replace fired line coach Tom Cable.
This time last year Fluker signed a one-year contract with New York that included a base salary of $1.5 million with another $1.5 million in roster bonus.
Gilmore declined to specify of the terms for Fluker’s deal with Seattle. They are likely to equal another prove-it contract, for around the same base salary he got for what became half a season with New York last year.
Fluker is known as a physical run blocker. He has struggled at times in pass protection but was improving there before his injury last year. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has vowed that fixing his rushing offense and getting the team back based on the run is his top priority in 2018.
Fluker played four seasons for the Chargers, the first two at right tackle and last two at right guard. He started all 59 games he appeared in from 2013-16. The Chargers initially decided to pick up his fifth-year option for 2017, as a first-round draft choice following the 2016 season. But two days before he was to get his $8.8 million salary for 2017 guaranteed, the Chargers released him, last March. That’s when he signed with the Giants, for $1.5 million guaranteed instead.
Fluker’s arrival in Seattle adds a veteran to compete with 2017 rookie starting guard Ethan Pocic, 2016 first-round pick Germain Ifedi and third-year man George Fant for possible places on the right side of the Seahawks’ iffy line.
Seattle has left guard open after it let Luke Joeckel leave in free agency this offseason after a one, failed, injury-shortened one season at $7 million guaranteed.
Pocic, a second-round pick from LSU last year, started four games at left guard then the last five games of 2017 at right guard for Seattle.
Oday Aboushi started eight games at right guard last season, then went on injured reserve. The Seahawks let his one-year contract end and sent him away into free agency this month, too. He and Joeckel remain unsigned and seemingly nowhere near Seattle’s plans for 2018.
Fant was the starting left tackle until a knee injury and reconstructive surgery ended his 2017 in August. His injury led to the Seahawks trading a third-round choice in next month’s draft and other picks last October to get left tackle Duane Brown from Houston. The Seahawks love Brown there. He is entering the final year of his contract Seattle would like to extend. Brown, 32, said soon after arriving last fall he wants to end his career with the Seahawks.
“(Brown is) a great boost to us coming back,” Carroll said this month at the NFL combine, “and to have your left tackle coming back and you know what you’ve got, got a real deal guy right there that you know what you’ve got, it’s a great value.”
So could Fant be returning to right tackle instead? That’s where Ifedi played last season.
“We’ve got to get Georgie back,” Carroll said three weeks ago. “He’s having a great offseason, seeing him almost every day as he runs through the building working out and, he’s really excited about it. And we’ll see how far he can take it. George was just on the rise and just coming and he had a tremendous start to last season and we were really excited about him.
“We’ll just see where that fits together. Can’t tell you that right now.”
Fant’s return this summer suggests Ifedi could go back to where he started as a rookie in 2016, at right guard.
“We’re wide open to all the stuff that is going on,” Carroll said, “but not that specifically, no.”
The Seahawks also like Jordan Roos, an undrafted free-agent guard from Purdue who was a rookie last season.
Fluker is now another former first-round pick who is an option there.