When Max Unger was coming out of the University of Oregon in 2009, Tom Cable had a feeling that Unger would develop into what he labels a “terrific center.”
Unger will remain in the center of the Seahawks’ offensive line after signing a multiyear contract extension on Wednesday.
“I am very happy about this new deal,” Unger said. “We have a developing young line that had some success last year that we can build upon this season. It’s a good deal for both of us and I couldn’t be happier to be in Seattle.”
When the Seahawks selected Unger in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Cable was head coach of the Oakland Raiders. But he got to renew his appreciation for Unger’s talents last season after joining the Seahawks as assistant head coach/offensive line coach.
“When I got here, we made some decisions – in terms of people that were here; those who weren’t going to be; and those that were, but were they in the right spot,” Cable said recently. “I kind of just drew on my past with Max.
“I thought three years ago when he came out that he’d be a terrific center. So we put him there from Day One and his development has been second to none on this team.”
That is why the club is so glad to have Unger signed beyond the rookie contract he signed after being the 49th player selected in the ’09 draft.
“Pete (Carroll) and I are excited to lock up a young core leader on our offense,” general manager John Schneider said in the release announcing the signing. “Max’s consistent and professional approach to his job transcends the locker room and the huddle.”
Last season, Unger was a vital part of an injury-ravaged line that helped Marshawn Lynch put up career-best totals in rushing yards (1,204) and touchdowns (13) – including a league-high 941 rushing yards over the last nine games.
Unger started 15 games at center, but season-ending injuries to right guard John Moffitt, right tackle James Carpenter and left tackle Russell Okung forced Cable to use three players at right guard and two each at the tackle spots.
It took Unger a while to settle in at center, however. In 2009, he became the first rookie to start 16 games for the Seahawks since Ray Roberts in 1992. But Unger started the first 13 games at right guard, before taking over at center for the final three after since-departed Chris Spencer broke a hand. In 2010, Unger got a season-ending toe injury in the opener, also while playing right guard.
But when Cable arrived last year, Unger returned to the spot he played in college on a fulltime basis.
“He’s a fine, fine player now,” Cable said.
When the Seahawks open training-camp practices on Saturday, Unger is expected to be flanked on the No. 1 line by the left side of Okung and guard Paul McQuistan and tackle Breno Giacomini and Moffitt on the right side.