Russell Okung is an unrestricted free agent, and it’s looking more and more likely that his days in Seattle may be over.
He was the very first draft pick for the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime; a top ten selection at one of the most pivotal positions in football. When the Seahawks selected left tackle Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State University with the sixth pick in 2010, they thought they had locked down their quarterback’s blind side for a decade or more.
But Okung’s days as a Seahawk may be over. As an unrestricted free agent at a premium position, he’ll be expecting top dollar, yet his play on the field hasn’t always matched his lofty draft status or salary (over $7 million in 2015). And then there’s the question of his durability. Okung has missed 24 games due to various injuries over his six year career, and now he’s facing major shoulder surgery which will force him to miss all of the offseason workouts.
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With all the other questions facing Seattle brass in regards to the porous and under-performing offensive line, can they afford to bring back an injured player, at such a key position, knowing he won’t be ready until after training camp starts?
This week Okung (who’s representing himself this time without an agent) took it upon himself to email every team in the league to let them know about his surgery and expected recovery time. It’s an odd move, considering he’s still under contract with Seattle until the official end of the league year in March. Any team answering his email could be guilty of tampering. But it may signal Okung’s mindset as we get closer to the free agency period. As might this tweet sent out earlier today:
Is he sending us a signal, a hint of his intentions?
Even before the surgery news, I thought it would be most prudent for the Seahawks to allow Okung to walk and use that money elsewhere. They can then re-sign fellow free agent G J.R. Sweezy and pursue a veteran free agent such as C Alex Mack or G Kelechi Osemele. Okung could be replaced in the lineup next year either with a high draft pick rookie, or by moving Garry Gilliam over from the right side.
Whatever the case, it’s looks more clear now than ever that Russell Okung may have played his last game as a Seattle Seahawk.