Walter Jones' situation still unresolved as Seahawks' minicamp opens
Left tackle Walter Jones still has not broken his silence over whether he will retire, but no one expects at the Seahawks' voluntary minicamp that begins Tuesday. The team is awaiting final word on his decision.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Seahawks haven't waved farewell to Walter Jones. Not officially.
But they're not expecting to see him at a three-day minicamp that begins Tuesday afternoon at the team's headquarters, either.
Now, this minicamp isn't some make-or-break mark in a potential comeback. It is a trio of voluntary practices held more than three months before training camp. But Jones' participation — or lack thereof — isn't entirely insignificant, either. While Seattle has not closed the book on one of the best careers in franchise history, the franchise is operating under the assumption that Jones won't be back next season.
That's not exactly a shock considering Jones' last public statement on his future was that he intended to retire. He said that via his Twitter account just before the Super Bowl began.
Jones' agent has not returned repeated messages about his client's status, and attempts to contact Jones have not drawn a response. The Seahawks have acknowledged Jones is considering retirement, but were awaiting a firm, final conclusion from Jones.
Seattle's approach to prepare for life after Jones is the only pragmatic one at this point. Jones is 36, and he has undergone two knee surgeries and missed 20 regular-season games since last suiting up. The Seahawks banked on his ability to come back and play left tackle last season, and when he couldn't, the offensive line never recovered.
A year later, neither Seattle nor Jones are operating under any such illusions.
Whom the Seahawks will turn to if Jones isn't in that cornerstone position, however, remains an open question.
Sean Locklear moved from the right side last year, but Seattle has a new offensive-line coach in Alex Gibbs, two first-round picks and a chance to pick a new cornerstone at that position during next week's draft.
What Seattle will do remains one of the hotly debated topics heading into the draft.
On one hand, people around the NFL point to Gibbs' history. In more than 20 years as an NFL line coach, his team has chosen an offensive tackle in the first round just twice while Gibbs was on staff.
But there is a growing consensus that is the position Seattle will opt for. Oklahoma State's Russell Okung has been considered the top tackle prospect, but Trent Williams of Oklahoma and Bryan Bulaga of Iowa are also considered prospects likely to be chosen in the top 10.
But that's next week.
For now, Seattle has three days worth of practice at a minicamp granted NFL teams with a new coach. The camp is voluntary for veterans.
General manager John Schneider said at the scouting combine that Jones' body of work and skill level made him worth waiting for if he decides on a comeback.
The lack of a salary cap also eliminates any urgency on the franchise's part. Jones' contract calls for him to make $7.3 million next season, but he's not taking up space that could otherwise be spent and Seattle isn't obligated to pay any of that base salary should he not make the team for Week 1.
Last week, Jones broke the radio silence he maintained on Twitter for more than a month. On Thursday, he made his first post in more than a month: "Hey twitter world, what's going on."
The same could be asked of Jones because while many expect him to retire at this point, there has been no final conclusion or formal announcement in that regard.
Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or email@example.com
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