With the lockout now officially at an end (‘excellent‘ – Mr. Burns) excitement is starting to mount as to who will be the Seahawks quarterback next season. Free agency is essentially open for business, although strangely with camp starting on Wednesday and with widespread negotiations allowed nobody can officially sign for a new team until Friday. Expect a lot of leaks and speculation until the truth is uncovered. Let’s look at the candidates…
Teams can sign their own free agents from tomorrow, which means if Hasselbeck is staying in Seattle there’s no reason to believe it won’t be concluded before training camp begins on Wednesday. He has the opportunity to test the water and see what alternatives are out there. If the Seahawks maintain interest in re-signing the quarterback (as I understand they do even if he isn’t necessarily the first choice at this stage) then it should be sorted swiftly.
Hasselbeck has a lot of history with the team and the city. He’s respected in the dressing room and the organisation in general. He’s a spirited leader who still has the spark to compete at this stage of his career, as emphasised in a strong playoff victory over New Orleans in the post season. A case can be made that Hasselbeck has familiarity within the team, particularly the receivers, and would maintain a status quo as the offense rebuilds.
At the same time we’re talking about a soon-to-be 36-year-old who would be the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL. Can you build an offense around a quarterback that essentially won’t be there when it peaks? As ESPN’s Mike Sando pointed out recently, Hasselbeck has the lowest passer rating since 2008 among quarterbacks with at least 35 starts. He’s thrown 34 interceptions during the last two years of regular season play and suffered a spate of injuries in the process.
Would re-signing Hasselbeck simply delay the inevitable parting of ways? And can you justify a new contract beyond 2011 considering his age and injury record?
New Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is a protege of Andy Reid in Philadelphia and the scheme used by both he and Brad Childress in Minnesota was very similar to that used by the Eagles. The Seahawks likewise want to utilise a mobile quarterback who can get the ball downfield and extend plays. Philly have used Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb. Minnesota used Tavaris Jackson and Joe Webb. The Vikings adapted slightly for Brett Favre, but that’s understandable.
Kolb would have a very good grasp of what the Seahawks want to do going forward in what remains a Pete Carroll ideology for the offense, with Bevell calling the plays. He fits the mantra physically for what Carroll wants in his quarterback and he’s taken time to learn the pro-game. If the Seahawks traded for Kolb, they’d be making a much needed long term commitment at the quarterback position.
The question is – can Kolb justify the commitment? Look at this footage from the NFL Network’s playbook series. Mike Mayock didn’t necessarily agree with the critique and made this defense the following week. However, there are legitimate concerns. He has a slingy action, he’s been inconsistent as a starter - with turnovers and performance – and he’s suffered injuries. Trading for Kolb would likely be expensive in terms of compensation and then a big contract extension. Not to mention, if he fails the Seahawks are left with an costly bust that could define the Pete Carroll era.
It seems like Kolb is destined for Arizona, but the Seahawks have maintained interest throughout and could still make a late move. After all, they fought Arizona for Charlie Whitehurst.
Seahawks Draft Blog has been reporting trade talks between Seattle and Cincinnati for a long time now. The parties talked through a deal and we’ve received information that a trade could be forthcoming. We also understand that Palmer is Pete Carroll’s preferred option at quarterback. We’re not the only ones who aren’t ruling out a trade either – Sam Farmer at the LA Times suggested it could happen, Pat Kirwan reported only this week that he’d spoken to a Bengals source that suggested Mike Brown was not totally against a trade, former Bengals receiver and current NFL analyst Chris Collinsworth suggested Brown will trade Palmer and Shawn Zobel reported earlier this month that league insiders were assuming Palmer would be dealt.
It could be an ideal bridge option if the Seahawks intend to draft a quarterback in the next two years. He’s four years younger than Matt Hasselbeck and has previous history with Pete Carroll and leading receiver Mike Williams at USC. His stats were admirable last year despite the Bengals record and brutal schedule which included games against Baltimore (x2), Pittsburgh (x2), New England, Indianapolis, the New York Jets, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, San Diego, New Orleans and Miami. In 2009, he went 6-0 in the formidable AFC North and won the division.
He’s also suffered injuries like Matt Hasselbeck in recent years and never truly maxed out his potential in Cincinnati as a former #1 overall pick. For every person suggesting a trade is possible, there are ten people willing to tell you there’s no chance Mike Brown cuts a deal.
If the Seahawks can acquire Palmer for the price we reported – a 5th round pick and a conditional 3rd – then it’s an ideal bridge option to the future. The question is, will the Bengals make the deal?
Bring up Charlie Whitehurst and the over reactions can be heard all the way on the Moon. The Seahawks made a bold move to trade for the former Clemson Tiger last year, trading a cumulative third round pick to keep him out of Arizona. They held a press conference to announce the trade and it seemed, at least in essence, that a quarterback competition was beginning. Instead, Whitehurst never really came close to unseating a struggling Matt Hasselbeck at any point during the regular season.
Our sources report that the Seahawks top brass maintain a level of faith in Whitehurst. In certain circumstances, they’d be prepared to enter the 2011 season with him as the starter. Whether that actually happens or not is anyone’s guess at the moment, but the front office is faced with a situation where they traded and paid a quarterback for two years work and received very little for the investment.
Although he’s faced a lot of criticism, in neither of his stints in the NFL has he received the opportunity to take starting reps and really lead a team as the bona fide starter. Some will suggest there has to be a reason for that, others will question whether he was ever realistically going to beat out Billy Volek in San Diego or Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle.
The worst case scenario if Whitehurst fails as a starter is the knowledge of that in itself and a high draft pick. The benefit of him succeeding could be a medium or long term starter at quarterback. It’s not a crazy option.
The rumor mill exploded last week when John Clayton suggested Jackson could be the team’s starter in 2011. He reiterated that point today on 710 ESPN Radio, even going as far to suggest signing him would be at the expense of Matt Hasselbeck on a handsome $6m per year contract for the next two seasons.
It’s an easy association to make because Jackson previously worked with Darrell Bevell and has the physical and athletic attributes the Seahawks are looking for in a quarterback.
Even so, his name has never come up in any conversation I’ve had with our sources and it just seems a bit too much like connecting the dots. Could he be signed as competition and a potential replacement for JP Losman? Sure, that makes a lot of sense. Will the Seahawks be investing $12m in Jackson to be their starter for the next two years? I find that very unlikely indeed, even as a bridge option and a low-risk gamble. If they’re going to go in this direction, I suspect Whitehurst will be given every opportunity to win the starting job during training camp.