As NFL teams continue to scramble to create cap space before the start of free agency, another proven veteran guard has officially hit the market. Based on their positional needs, the Seahawks should be one of the front runners to land him.
Per Josina Anderson, Gabe Jackson has been informed of his release by the Raiders. The move has been speculated for weeks given the franchise's current financial situation, as cutting him creates more than $9 million in instant cap space and puts them under the cap with an estimated $1.74 million in cap room.
It's no secret Seattle needs to upgrade its offensive line, especially after Russell Wilson went public venting his frustrations about getting hit too much last month. These comments coupled with numerous reports about a growing rift with coach Pete Carroll have fueled rumors that the star quarterback could be traded this offseason, but the organization remains committed to building around him.
If the Seahawks want to appease Wilson and help fix the relationship between signal caller and franchise, moving quickly to sign Jackson would be a positive start, particularly from a pass protection standpoint.
An instant starter for the Raiders after being selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Jackson has consistently received stellar grades as a pass blocker from Pro Football Focus. As a rookie, he received an 85.6 grade, which ranked eighth out of 66 qualified guards. He finished eighth again in 2015 and has never finished lower than 19th in seven NFL seasons.
Last season, while Jackson received his lowest pass blocking grade of his career (69.9) and tied a career-high with 26 total pressures allowed, he wasn't charged with a single sack and only yielded two quarterback hits against Derek Carr. It was the fifth season in his career where he surrendered one or fewer sacks and two or fewer quarterback hits, further illustrating his reliability as a protector.
If there are question marks regarding Jackson's fit in Seattle, it would be in regard to his run blocking and potential scheme fit issues.
In seven NFL seasons, Jackson has received a 62.0 grade or lower from Pro Football Focus in the run blocking department four times. This includes each of the past two seasons when he received 58.5 and 53.6 grades - the two lowest grades of his career - which ranked 47th and 46th among qualified guards in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
In the three years since line coach Tom Cable arrived, Jackson has struggled in an outside zone-heavy scheme due to his limited mobility and lateral quickness along with nagging injuries. At 335 pounds, he has performed better in a power blocking scheme where he can use his strength and physicality to bully defenders off the snap.
It remains to be seen how the Seahawks' offense will look under new coordinator Shane Waldron, but if he implements a scheme similar to the one he helped coordinate with the Rams, there will be greater emphasis on wide zone and stretch runs. On the flip side, line coach Mike Solari was retained and has preferred bigger "body movers" at the guard spots during his tenure, so there may be a blend of the two approaches.
Regardless, Seattle has a huge hole to fill at left guard following the retirement of Mike Iupati and lacks desirable in-house options to replace him. Given Wilson's recent comments and the chaos that has ensued as a result, it would be wise for general manager John Schneider to prioritize landing a successor who is proficient as a pass protector.
Over the past decade, few guards have been more dependable keeping quarterbacks clean than Jackson. While limited cap space may prevent a signing from happening, before the ink dries on his pink slip, the Seahawks best have a flight booked for him to visit the Pacific Northwest to see how much it will cost to acquire his services and see if they can strike a deal.