Ethan Pocic

Browns Not Seeking OL, DL Additions?

At this point in the offseason, teams use the remaining free agent market to address depth needs on their rosters. As a result, some view offensive and defensive line as two positions the Browns could use to make additions between now and training camp. However, May Kay Cabot of cleveland.com observes that the team is confident in its current options in both position groups. 

The Browns cut veteran center J.C. Tretter in March, saving the team significant cap space but creating a hole in the middle of the 0-line. They have signed former Seahawk Ethan Pocic, but the top candidate for Tretter’s vacated role is Nick Harris, who has made one start in each of his first two NFL seasons. If healthy, the team will also be able to return one of the league’s top tandems at both tackle (Jedrick Wills and Jack Conklin) and guard (Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller).

In terms of depth, 2021 fourth-rounder James Hudson is in line to remain the team’s top swingman. He played over 300 snaps as a rookie, making four starts along the way. While he struggled during his initial season, earning a PFF grade of 57.3, Cabot notes how confident the Browns are that he will take a step forward after gaining experience at the NFL level.

The situation is similar on the other side of the ball. The Browns are high on the potential shown in spring practices by Jordan ElliottThe 2020 third-rounder has only made four starts so far in his career, but he took on a significantly larger workload last season, setting himself up to do the same this year. He could be joined as a starter by former first-rounder Taven Bryan, who signed a one-year deal in free agency. Cabot also names rookie Perrion Winfrey as a candidate for at least a significant depth role.

Given their cap situation, the Browns could easily afford another signing along either the offensive or defensive fronts. Aside from any difficulty which could arise from convincing remaining free agents to come on a short-term deal (given the lengthy suspension expected to be handed down to Deshaun Watsonwhich could very well take the team out of 2022 contention), Cleveland already appears content with their in-house depth.

OL Notes: Browns, Bakhtiari, Pats, Bears

Although the Browns signed the Seahawks’ primary center of the past two years (Ethan Pocic), they are first attempting to see if one of their recent backups can claim J.C. Tretter‘s old job. Nick Harris is working as Cleveland’s first-string center during OTAs, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes. A fifth-round pick out of Washington in 2020, Harris made one start in each of the past two seasons — the late-2021 outing came when Tretter contracted COVID-19 — but he practiced extensively with the Browns’ first-unit O-line last season. Tretter dealt with injuries, and while the veteran played through them, he often sat out practices or worked in a limited capacity. This gave Harris a runway to full-fledged starter action and gave the Browns enough confidence to make Tretter a March cap casualty. The NFLPA president remains a free agent.

Ditching Tretter, 30, remains a gamble for the Browns, who still hold the NFL’s most cap space. Tretter graded as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best center in 2021, started all but one game in five Cleveland seasons and provided a solid pivot on one of the league’s best lines. Here is the latest from the O-line scene:

  • The ACL tear David Bakhtiari suffered on New Year’s Eve 2020 wrecked his 2021 season, limiting him to just one game (Week 18). The Packers are proceeding cautiously with their two-time All-Pro left tackle this offseason. Matt LaFleur confirmed the team is holding Bakhtiari out of OTAs, via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky (on Twitter), for conservation purposes. The expectation is the 10th-year veteran returns for training camp. Still, the lengthy recovery Bakhtiari required from his injury makes his status worth monitoring ahead of an age-31 season.
  • New England picked up Isaiah Wynn‘s fifth-year option in 2021, guaranteeing the injury-prone left tackle $10.4MM this season. But he has missed OTA time, leaving recently re-signed right tackle Trent Brown — the left tackle on the Patriots’ 2018 Super Bowl-winning team — to fill in on the left side. The Pats have made a few trades involving contract-year talent under Bill Belichick — Sony Michel, Brandin Cooks and Jamie Collins being recent examples. If New England was to dangle Wynn, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes teams would be willing to fork over a reasonable return (subscription required). That might be a bridge too far, considering the Pats already traded a veteran blocker (Shaq Mason) and saw Brown’s run of absences continue with eight more last season.
  • The Bears have 2021 second-rounder Teven Jenkins pegged as their right tackle starter. Jenkins returned from preseason back surgery to start two games as a rookie, but he was close to 350 pounds last year. The Chicago blocker is back near his listed 320-pound weight, with Adam Jahns of The Athletic noting Jenkins is checking in around 325. Larry Borom is penciled in to take over for Jason Peters at left tackle.

Browns To Sign C Ethan Pocic

Not long after parting ways with J.C. Tretter, the Browns are set to add to the interior of their offensive line. The team is signing center Ethan Pocic, as first reported by NFL insider Jordan Schultz (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Browns To Cut Tretter]

Pocic, 26, played five seasons in Seattle after being drafted in the second round by the Seahawks in 2017. Over that time, he played at both guard and center. In total, he registered 57 appearances and 40 starts with the team.

Pocic’s heaviest workloads in terms of snaps percentage have come in the past two campaigns. In 2020, he was on the field for every offensive play in the 14 contests he suited up for, and last season, that figure was 79%. The 2021 campaign was the first in which the LSU alum didn’t commit any accepted penalties. That helped him earn a PFF grade of 67.3, the highest of his career.

Pocic’s days in Seattle were likely numbered when the team signed Austin Blythe at the start of free agency. The former Ram returned to the NFC West after one season as a backup in Kansas City. Given the absence of Tretter in Cleveland, though, Pocic has an opportunity to compete for the starting center job with Nick Harris. The latter has played sparingly in two seasons with the Browns.

With Pocic, the Browns have gotten younger in the middle of their offensive front while adding accomplished depth at a minimum. If the deal is similar in value to his career earnings, it also shouldn’t use up too much of the Browns’ roughly $21MM in cap space.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/16/21

The Week 6 Saturday minor move blitz:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Pittsburgh Steelers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

Seahawks Place Ethan Pocic On IR

The Seahawks have placed center Ethan Pocic on the injured reserve list. His spot will be filled by the promotion of linebacker Jon Rhattigan from the 16-man practice squad.

[RELATED: Raiders Poach OL Jordan Simmons From Seahawks]

Pocic left the season opener with a knee sprain, ending his day after just 14 snaps. Kyle Fuller, his mid-game replacement, figures to start in the middle when the Seahawks face the Titans this week.

A former second-round pick, Pocic has seen action at both guard and center as a pro. He opened the 2019 season as a Seattle starter but saw a back injury derail his season. The veteran blocker bounced back in 2020 and re-upped with the team to stay in 2021.

Last year, Pocic started in 14 games at center for a career high 932 snaps. He also notched an improved 62.4 grade from Pro Football Focus, the best of his career.

Seahawks To Re-Sign OL Ethan Pocic

The Seahawks reached an agreement to retain their starting center. Ethan Pocic will stay in Seattle on a one-year deal worth $3MM, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

A former second-round pick, Pocic has seen action at both guard and center as a pro. He opened the 2019 season as a Seattle starter but saw a back injury derail his season. The veteran blocker bounced back in 2020 and now has a deal to return in 2021.

Pocic started 14 games at center for the Seahawks last season. This re-signing is bringing Seattle’s 2021 O-line picture into focus. They have acquired experienced guard Gabe Jackson via trade from the Raiders and now have Pocic back. Tackles Duane Brown and Brandon Shell are under contract for 2021, and Jackson guard mate Damien Lewis is entrenched as a starter after a solid rookie season.

Pocic’s return, after a season in which Pro Football Focus graded him 26th overall among centers, may not move the needle for Russell Wilson. But it remains to be seen if the quarterback, who let it be known he wanted the Seahawks to do better to bolster their O-line, will be satisfied with Jackson being added to the mix.

Seahawks Activate Ethan Pocic From IR

The Seahawks are getting a boost as they gear up for their playoff push. The team is activating offensive lineman Ethan Pocic off injured reserve, they announced in a release.

To make room for him on the roster they officially placed running Rashaad Penny, who tore an ACL last week, on injured reserve. Pocic was placed on injured reserve after Week 6, and is now returning when first eligible after missing the requisite eight games. He had been dealing with a back issue. Pocic started the team’s opener at left guard and played 100 percent of the snaps, but injuries have limited him to just two games in his third season as a pro.

Seattle drafted him in the second round back in 2017, and he started 11 games as a rookie while appearing in all 16. An LSU product, injuries limited him to only ten appearances last year with four starts. Pocic has played all along the offensive line during his college and pro days, so he brings some valuable versatility to the unit. Normal starting center Justin Britt is on injured reserve with an ACL tear of his own, and Joey Hunt has been filling in. Now that Pocic is back, he could push Hunt for that gig soon. Either way, he’ll be a nice depth piece for the stretch run.

Seahawks Designate Ethan Pocic To Return

The Seahawks announced that they have designated Ethan Pocic to return from injured reserve. The offensive lineman will aim to take the field for the first time since his back injury sidelined him. 

Per league rules, the move will kickstart a two-week practice window for Pocic, who will be eligible to return in Week 15 against the Panthers. The move also means that the Seahawks cannot bring another player back from IR in 2019. The Seahawks used their other IR-DTR slot to bring Ed Dickson back into the fold last week, but the tight end quickly reverted to IR after his knee troubles re-emerged.

Pocic has served as a swiss army knife of an offensive lineman for the Seahawks, but he’ll likely be deployed at center to hold down the role previously filled by Justin Britt. Since Britt tore his ACL, Joey Hunt has been the starter, with Jordan Roos as his backup.

Pocic, a 2017 second-round pick, has started in 16 games as a pro. Between now and Week 15, the 9-2 Seahawks will have to keep fighting without him as they face the Vikings and Rams.

Seahawks Place Ethan Pocic On IR

The Seahawks have placed offensive lineman Ethan Pocic on injured reserve, according to a team announcement. In related moves, the club also waived safety Adrian Colbert and promoted tight end Jacob Hollister and guard Jordan Roos from the practice squad.

Pocic started in the team’s season opener against the Bengals and played on every possible snap. He also saw time in the Week 2 contest against the Steelers, but he’s been out for the last three games with a back injury. Now, he’ll miss at least eight more weeks of action, and possibly the rest of the season.

Roos, 26, appeared in seven games after joining the club as a UDFA. He’ll provide some much needed offensive line depth as right guard D.J. Fluker and left tackle Duane Brown deal with injuries. In the meantime, George Fant is expected to start at left tackle when the Seahawks face the Browns on Sunday.

The Seahawks are 4-1 through five weeks. After the Cleveland game, they’ll round out the month with games against the Ravens and Falcons.