No splash moves, but Seahawks feel they've upgraded their O-line

The Seahawks are expecting Brandon Shell to not only replace Germain Ifedi at right tackle but provide an upgrade. Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire

To understand why the Seattle Seahawks made four lower-profile additions to their offensive line as opposed to big splashes over the first two weeks of free agency -- at that position or anywhere else -- consider where they were already spending their money.

Quarterback Russell Wilson ($31 million) and linebacker Bobby Wagner ($14.75 million) combine to account for about 23% of the $198.2 million salary cap for this season, with Wilson owning the second-highest 2020 cap charge of any player in the league. In all, the Seahawks have seven players counting at least $9 million against the 2020 cap and are still hoping to re-sign defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who likely would be the eighth.

That type of roster construction is nothing new for Seattle. Before Wilson and Wagner got extensions last year that respectively made them the game's highest-paid player and highest-paid off-the-ball linebacker, they already were playing on deals near the top of the market for their positions. The same was previously true for the likes of Earl Thomas III, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and Jimmy Graham.

It's why the Seahawks are selective when it comes to free agents, usually looking for bargains and rarely splurging on top-shelf additions. So while right tackle Jack Conklin was a big name who would have filled a need for Seattle, giving him the three-year, $42 million deal he got from Cleveland would have been an incongruous move for a team that hasn't paid more than $9 million per season for an outside free agent under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.

The four offensive linemen they signed -- Brandon Shell, B.J. Finney, Chance Warmack and Cedric Ogbuehi -- were their types of additions. Here's a closer look at each.

RT Brandon Shell

He has a similar pass block win rate over the past three seasons as Germain Ifedi and fewer starts over four seasons than the guy he's replacing, but the Seahawks consider Shell to be a clear upgrade. They view Shell as a prototypical right tackle at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds. Among the traits they like about him: his strength and physicality and how he stays patient in pass protection. He doesn't quite have the mean streak of Breno Giacomini, the right tackle on the Seahawks' 2013 Super Bowl championship team, but he's got the finisher's mentality the Seahawks covet in offensive linemen.

The $4.5 million average of Shell's two-year deal is the most the Seahawks are paying to any of their four offensive-line additions. Ifedi, meanwhile, signed with Chicago more than a week into free agency after his market didn't materialize the way he'd hoped. So this wasn't a case of the Seahawks settling on Shell as a cheaper alternative. They feel they got better.

C/G B.J. Finney

Finney was a key backup during his four seasons in Pittsburgh, but the $4 million average of his two-year deal suggests he'll likely be starting somewhere in the interior of Seattle's offensive line. Per ESPN charting, he has played 427 career snaps at left guard, 381 at center -- where he drew strong reviews for his two fill-in starts last season -- and 139 at right guard. "Really smart" and "stout as s---" was how one Seahawks source described the 6-4, 318-pound Finney.

Last year's starter at left guard, Mike Iupati, is a free agent, while center Justin Britt and right guard D.J. Fluker are each entering the last year of their contracts. Britt is coming off a torn ACL. Joey Hunt filled in admirably enough for Britt last season to earn a $2.13 million tender as a restricted free agent, but his smaller frame seemed to make him susceptible to getting overpowered at times. All of that might explain why a sturdy and versatile player like Finney had appeal.

G Chance Warmack

At 6-2 and around 330 pounds, Warmack is another massive big body who can potentially fortify the interior of Seattle's offensive line. The Seahawks believe the 2013 No. 10 overall pick is still a starting-caliber player even though he hasn't been a full-time starter since 2015. They attribute that turn in his career to injuries, which led Warmack to take last season off so he could get healthy. He has been training for his comeback with offensive-line guru Duke Manyweather, who has also worked with Fluker and has strong ties to Seahawks O-line coach Mike Solari.

The upside with this move is that the Seahawks could have a top-10 talent with 51 career starts if Warmack can regain his pre-injury form. The downside is minimal, with Warmack counting only $750,000 against the cap on a one-year deal that qualifies for the minimum salary benefit. He has played way more right guard (2,909 career snaps) than left guard (256), per ESPN charting.

OT/TE Cedric Ogbuehi

Ogbuehi slides into the George Fant role as a swing tackle and extra tight end in the heavy packages that have become a staple of Seattle's offense. His one-year deal is worth about $800,000 less than what Fant made last season and about a quarter of what Fant is now making per season to be the Jets' starting left tackle.

Per ESPN charting, Ogbuehi has played 869 career snaps at left tackle, 563 at right tackle and 113 at tight end, with 56 of those tight-end snaps coming last season with the Jaguars. He hasn't started a game since 2017 and hasn’t lived up to expectations as the No. 21 overall pick in 2015. The Seahawks believe Solari's coaching style -- he's more teacher than drill sergeant -- can help Ogbuehi realize some of the potential that has so far gone unfulfilled.