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Hawk Talk highlights: Russell Okung’s challenge and what’s next for Justin Britt

Left tackle Russell Okung is representing himself as a free agent after firing his agent last year. (AP)

Danny O’Neil hosted a live Seahawks chat Tuesday, as he does each week during the season. The full transcript can be found here. Highlights are below.

Tom Page said left tackle Russell Okung is being “foolish” by representing himself in contract negotiations as an unrestricted free agent after firing his agent last year.

O’Neil: Here’s the real challenge, and it might hurt Seattle specifically: A player representing himself will have to hear a team tell him why he’s not worth $9 million a year. That can engender resentment. Especially if it’s a team you’ve played for – through various injuries – for six years. … Any negotiation with Okung will come with the knowledge of all the other players Seattle extended without extending Okung. And any explanation for why Seattle is not giving him as much as he wants will be counterbalanced with his history here and all the other guys who’ve gotten what they want. Another team gets to bring roses and send valentines about how much they want Okung.

Camaro asked if the Seahawks will value continuity and try to improve their existing offensive linemen or try to look for upgrades in free agency and the draft.

O’Neil: This is probably the single biggest variable in this offseason. So far, we’ve seen Seattle reluctant to match significant offers to free-agent offensive linemen. They let Breno Giacomini and James Carpenter go for relatively modest, $4 million- to $5 million-a-year deals to the Jets. They moved on from Max Unger when he was still a starting caliber center. Does Seattle’s experience in the first half of this season change the value the Seahawks place on continuity up front?

Tom Page asked if O’Neil still has hope for right-tackle-turned-left-guard Justin Britt.

O’Neil: I do still have hope for Britt. I think that this season was a challenge, and there needs to be an honest discussion about whether he will improve at guard or is just better suited to playing offensive tackle. I think making that transition one week into training camp put him in a difficult, challenging situation and there were techniques he struggled with all year.

Tom Page mentioned the dangers of the drug “spice” – or synthetic marijuana – which fullback Derrick Coleman admitted to smoking before his Oct. 14 car crash.

O’Neil: The reaction that it has been documented to have is alarming. And people talk about it being legal, but that’s not really the case. It’s unregulated because it’s being sold as not being for human consumption. It’s sold as plant food or as incense, and labeled not being for human ingestion.

Efren Herrera made the case for the Seahawks bringing back tight end Jimmy Graham, noting that he’s more valuable with the way quarterback Russell Wilson played in the second half of last season and that Seattle “already drove him off the lot.”

O’Neil: I completely agree with everything you said here. He was better with second-half Russell, the Seahawks have already paid the sticker price. And for all the talk about exactly how much Graham will make in salary, Seattle isn’t going to get a better player for $9 million.

Tom Page said he was surprised the Seahawks blitzed less frequently under first-year defensive coordinator Kris Richard than they did under his predecessor, Dan Quinn, and wondered whether that affected Seattle’s turnover total.

O’Neil: Seattle never blitzed all that much to begin with so you’re talking about going from the mid-20s to the low 20s, high teens. That said, finding a way to generate more turnovers has to be the top priority for the defense next season. No doubt.


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