RENTON — When the Seattle Seahawks lost their starting right tackle in free agency during the offseason, the contingency plan seemed straightforward.
After seeing significant playing time as a rookie, Michael Bowie would get first crack at stepping in for Breno Giacomini.
To add depth, Seattle spent a second-round draft pick on Justin Britt out of Missouri with the intent on having him compete with Bowie for the starting job.
That still might be the final scenario. But the signing of veteran right tackle Eric Winston on Tuesday would indicate the situation is unsettled.
“Just looking for depth and a competitive guy to come in that spot,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “We like the fact he’s got background and experience.”
And there might be a need at that position as well. Bowie has been slowed by a shoulder injury suffered on the first day of camp, although he’s expected to practice later this week. Britt has looked like a rookie and struggled on Tuesday as he was matched up against starting defensive end Cliff Avril.
Enter Winston, the current NFLPA president. Entering his ninth season, Winston has started 119 consecutive games and has the experience advantage over Bowie and Britt. He’s also played in zone-blocking systems in the past and is familiar with what the Seahawks are trying to teach.
“I’ve been searching for the right situation and I wanted to go somewhere that you can win,” Winston said. “When they called I know they’re definitely capable of winning here and winning big so it was very exciting to think that I would get a chance to play in some games I’ve never played in before and have a chance of doing that.”
Winston played last season for Arizona so he saw the Seahawks up close twice. He was part of the only team to beat the Seahawks in Seattle in the past two seasons when Arizona won 17-13 in Week 16 last December.
“They fly around, they have a lot of fun, they play hard and they play together. They’re a tough team to beat,” Winston said. “We played them a couple of times last year and caught them early in Carroll’s tenure, but they’re as tough as it gets. A lot athletes and a lot of speed and you have to be ready to deal with it. It will be a lot more fun playing with them than against them.”
The upside for Seattle if either Britt or Winston can prove capable of starting at the position is the versatility of Bowie.
Last season, Bowie started at both guard and tackle at various times and along with second-year lineman Alvin Bailey gives the Seahawks pieces to mix and match across the line whether for matchups or because of injury.
Britt might be the future at the position, and he’s getting an opportunity to work with the No. 1 offense with Bowie being sidelined. That also means going against the starting defense and in those settings, Britt’s had moments of still learning the difference in speed between college and the pros.
“For him (it’s) a big bonus. I don’t know if it helps our team, but maybe in the long run it will if he ends up being the guy,” offensive line coach Tom Cable said. “He is certainly getting a lot of extra work.”
NOTES: Seattle’s practice was aired live on ESPN. A helicopter flew over the practice facility throughout the TV event and cameras were stationed around the practice fields. “They were very open to how we would allow it to happen and we worked together to figure out a way. I don’t know how it came off. … It didn’t bother us at all,” Carroll said. … RB Marshawn Lynch continued his holdout on Tuesday and could be facing additional fines from the team related to his signing bonus for the holdout reaching six days. “It’s one of those deals you can never get inside somebody’s head,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said in an interview with ESPN during its broadcast. “We’re just going with our plan and it’s cliche-ish but next man up. We’ve had a plan in place here for a number of years and we can’t veer from that plan just for one person because it’s the ultimate team sport.”