Free agent spotlight: Offensive line

Free agent spotlight: Offensive line

Fifth in a series looking the players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents Tuesday, although the following information does not reflect who the Seahawks might be targeting:

Position: Offensive line

Leader of the pack: OG Carl Nicks, Saints

What he’s done: He’s only 27 and was a fifth-round draft choice in 2008, but Nicks has been voted to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons and many consider him an ascending player.

Where he ranks: No. 6 on Pro Football Weekly’s list of Top 100 free agents.

What they’re saying: “Nicks was one of the best interior offensive linemen in football a season ago. Considering the Saints gave right guard Jahri Evans a monster contract last offseason, they could be challenged to keep the powerful Nicks, who is likely to be the latest in a growing line of guards to strike it rich in free agency.” – Pro Football Weekly

Other options: Ravens OG Ben Grubbs, a Pro Bowl selection last season who is solid as a run blocker and in pass protection; Texas C Chris Myers, undersized, but athletic, he’s one of the better players in the league at his position; Packers C Scott Wells, he’s 31 which could hurt his chances to land a long-term deal; Bills OT Demetrius Bell, a still-developing player who has played 31 NFL games; Chargers OT Jared Gaither, a huge (6-9, 340) left tackle who missed the 2010 season with a back injury; Chargers C Nick Hardwick, has started 103 games and did not allow a sack last season; Eagles OG Evan Mathis, another player who did not allow a sack last season; Texans OG Mike Brisiel, Houston ran well to the right side last season and Brisiel was a key to that success; Buccaneers OG Jeremy Zuttah, has started 44 games and also can play center.

Seahawks own free agents: OG-OT Paul McQuistan; OG-C Mike Gibson.

Numbers to know: The Seahawks’ starting offensive linemen missed a combined 23 games last season and 28 games in 2010. As a result, they used eight starters last season and nine in 2010. In the past four seasons, they have had only three linemen make all 16 starts – the since-departed duo of center Chris Spencer (2010) and right tackle Ray Willis (2009) and Max Unger (at two positions in 2009).

Says coach Pete Carroll: The actions of Carroll and GM John Schneider have said it all, as they’ve used two first-round draft choices and a third-rounder in their first two draft to select left tackle Russell Okung (first round, 2010), right tackle James Carpenter (first round, 2011) and right guard John Moffitt (third round, 2011). And the most underrated transition of this offseason could be the re-signing of right tackle Breno Giacomini.

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