With the sixth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks chose Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung.
"We're going to throw him right in," Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs said. "He'll be our starting left tackle, 'Day One, Hour One', and we'll live with him through whatever the pain is."
The Seahawks referred to Okung as "Walter's replacement" at left tackle, though in 12 of the Seahawks' last 20 games, Sean Locklear has been Seattle's left tackle.
A third-round pick (84th overall) out of North Carolina State in 2004, Locklear entered the starting lineup his second season, makings 51 starts at right tackle between 2005 and 2008.
After the 2007 season, Locklear signed a 5-year, $32 million dollar contract extension that included $12 million dollars in guaranteed money, and contained an escalator clause that would increase his base salary if he played a certain amount of snaps at the left tackle position. Locklear logged 113 snaps on the left side when Walter Jones was injured in 2008. Last season, the 6-4, 308-pound Locklear protected the quarterback's blindside on 601 of the team's 1,043 offensive snaps.
As a result, Locklear's base salary has increased from $4.85 million dollars to $5.45 million dollars for the 2010 season, according to NFL Players Association records.
Locklear's base salaries in 2011 ($5.6M) and 2012 ($7.295M) were unchanged.
In terms of base salary, Locklear is now the NFL's fourth-highest paid offensive tackle, behind 2009 Pro Bowlers Jason Peters (Philadelphia) and Jake Long (Miami), and Seahawks teammate Walter Jones. With Okung locked in at left tackle, and Ben Hamilton at left guard, Locklear will move back to the right tackle position in 2010.
While $5.45 million dollars is a lot of money to pay a right tackle, Locklear played the position at a fairly high level between 2005-08, and provides veteran depth at left tackle behind Okung.
Considering how quality depth at tackle was one of the reasons for the offensive line's struggles in recent seasons, in an uncapped year, a $5.45M base salary for a solid right tackle is not an exorbitant sum for a team that's apparently eager to pay Deion Branch's $5.47 million dollars base salary in 2010.
Ben Hamilton's contract with the Seahawks is for one-year, and the left guard/on-field offensive line coach will earn $2 million dollars in base salary.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you’d like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here.