Guard/Tackle – 6’4”, 330 pounds
2007 Status: Unrestricted Free Agent
2007 Age: 28
2007 Service: 6 Years
Selected in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL draft (128th overall) by the Seahawks out of Mississippi State, Floyd “Pork Chop” Womack started 29 straight games at tackle for his alma mater, which would prove ironic given his professional injury history. Active for six games in his rookie year, Womack played in five and saw time on special teams at tackle on the field goal units. In 2002, Womack started his first game at left tackle against the Raiders in place of Walter Jones, who was in the middle of what were then his annual contract disputes with the team. Womack started 10 of the 11 games in which he played that season, at both tackle positions. 2003 saw him flex more versatility, as he spelled Jones, right guard Chris Gray and right tackle Chris Terry in four starts and 10 total games. However, he missed six weeks with a toe injury.
Womack’s marquee year with Seattle was 2004. When Terry was placed on injured reserve halfway through the season, Womack stepped in and anchored that side of the line well enough. He was able to play in a career-high 15 regular season games, and started eight. It was thought at this time that the Seahawks had found their right tackle for the next few years … and while that was a correct assumption, it wouldn’t be Womack.
In 2005, Womack suffered a triceps injury in the third preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs, allowing second-year man Sean Locklear to replace him at a near-Pro Bowl level. Locklear’s ascent would prove to be the anchor in what would become the best offensive line in the league, and the finest in Seattle history. Womack was the utility man, playing all line positions but center. However, he also missed five regular-season games with that same triceps injury and a quadriceps issue.
Coming into the 2006 season, Womack was tabbed as the future at another position – Steve Hutchinson’s replacement at left guard. It never happened. He suffered a knee injury in the season’s second game against the Cardinals, and was replaced by Chris Spencer. He returned five games later against the Raiders, stayed in the lineup for the next six weeks, and then missed the games against the 49ers and Chargers in mid- and late-December with a groin injury. When he returned for the regular-season finale against the Buccaneers, rookie Rob Sims had taken his spot at left guard, and Womack played on the right side. Sims kept that spot through the playoffs.
For the second straight season, Womack’s inability to stay healthy on a consistent basis (he missed a total of seven games in 2006) brought forth a potential “keeper” on the line that wasn’t him. Racked by injury and inconsistency, the Seahawks’ offensive line plummeted as their offense did. Fairly major personnel changes are forthcoming, most notably with the retirement of stalwart center Robbie Tobeck.
The Case For: With the possible exception of the quarterback position, no part of an NFL team requires more player consistency to succeed than the offensive line. Womack has been in the system as the line has grown and changed, and he could be a valuable part of the equation if he could stay healthy. Not the most nimble fellow, he does have great earthmoving ability, which serves him well in Seattle’s system. He might be a bit lost in a more complicated zone-blocking scheme, but he does man-on-man rather well. As time goes on and his mobility decreases, expect him be thought of as more than a guard and less of a tackle…
The Case Against: …and that’s the problem. First of all, the Seahawks are still scrambling to recover from the loss of Hutchinson, the game’s best guard. Free agents Kris Dielman of San Diego and Eric Steinbach of Cincinnati will be extremely attractive options – Dielman has already been mentioned as an option for the Seahawks in one San Diego paper. Sims will start somewhere on the line, and that will probably be at right guard if Seattle acquires a pricey veteran who they’ll want to pair with Jones on the left side.
Veteran Chris Gray is a longtime Mike Holmgren favorite and also an unrestricted free agent. Gray has proven to be far more durable than Womack, and his veteran savvy would make him an exceptional backup. Factor in also that the guard position is a very deep one in the NFL draft this year. The Seahawks have proven a great ability to take young linemen, put them in the mix in spot duty, and have them succeed. Where an increasingly one-dimensional, injury-prone player fits into that equation is unknown.
Keep or Kick? Kick. The Seahawks desperately need to move forward and cement their line if they are to succeed in 2007. Injuries were a major problem in 2006, as the line trotted out eight different versions in the regular season. If Womack could be counted on to move beyond an increasingly worrisome injury trend, he’d be worth a shot, but he’s approaching the time in his career during which injuries tend to increase and effectiveness diminishes for most of your average players.
This is not a Bruce Matthews, who can play in five billion straight games, or a Walter Jones, who can play at a high level with injuries for an entire season. Floyd Womack, as good as he can be at times, has missed 12 games in the last two seasons, and only started 10. Very generally speaking, linemen that are big tend to last. Linemen that are fat don't. Unfortunately, Womack falls into the latter category. And no, Nate Newton doesn't count.
This doesn’t work for a team that doesn’t have any luxuries on the line. Chris Spencer will replace Tobeck. Sims will begin the season as a starter. Another guard will flow into the rotation. Consistency will be hard to come by as the new line comes together. Going with a known injury risk– even in a backup role – just doesn't make sense.
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET and a staff writer for Football Outsiders. He also writes the weekly "Manic Monday" feature for FoxSports.com. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.