Does ‘win forever’ include a rookie quarterback?

Who will quarterback for Pete Carroll in 2011 and beyond?

Could the Seahawks really ignore the quarterback position completely in the 2011 draft?

I touched on it briefly yesterday but felt this was a topic worthy of a little more focus. My own personal view is that quarterback is the team’s #1 need and it’s not even close. I suspect the team’s front office will share that sentiment, particularly given Charlie Whitehurst is currently the only quarterback contracted for 2011. His expensive deal expires in 12 months time.

It’s an issue that is going to be solved one way or another this off season. The question is – how?

In Pete Carroll’s end of season press conference he talked about re-signing Matt Hasselbeck as a priority. A deal never materialised and Seattle’s most successful quarterback will test free agency whenever that takes place. There are two things that instantly came to mind when Hasselbeck wasn’t re-signed before the CBA expired:

1.) If the team were completely committed to Hasselbeck, how did it ever get this far? Was he really that much of a priority, or was he a priority signing on much reduced terms? He hasn’t enjoyed a great deal of success in the last three years and will be 36 in September. Will a team stump up an attractive offer when free agency does eventually kick into gear? Are the Seahawks still considered favorites to complete something with Hasselbeck regardless of what happens in the draft?

2.) Was it always the team’s intentions to go into the draft and test the water? If a quarterback fell to them at #25 that they weren’t expecting or if they worked on a deal to trade up, would that ultimately make Hasselbeck expendable? Likewise if they weren’t able to draft the guy they wanted, do they feel comfortable enough to re-sign Hasselbeck later in the year?

Whatever you think about Hasselbeck it certainly was a significant moment when the CBA expired without a freshly signed contract. Despite all the positive talk of mutual respect and priorities, for the first time it seemed like the Seahawks were actually preparing themselves to move on.

This situation will be resolved one way or another, that absolutely is the case. Either it’s one year or multiple years of Hasselbeck (with or without a logical replacement in the background) or they’re moving on. I suspect we’re closer to moving on at this stage.

This brings me back to my view of Carroll’s regime. We’ve heard the slogans – ‘compete’… ‘all in’… ‘win forever’…

If I could ask Carroll any question knowing I’d get a definitive answer, as of the 5th April it would be, “can win forever include a rookie or at least an unproven quarterback?”

I’m not convinced it can, but then what do we really know?

Pete Carroll wouldn’t be the first Head Coach to carry such a view. Jon Gruden was vehemently opposed to rookie quarterbacks in Tampa Bay and in part it may have contributed to his departure. What happened as soon as Gruden left? Weeks later they drafted Josh Freeman in the first round.

The thing with Gruden was he just preferred to have the experienced head running the show. He’d rather pluck Jeff Garcia from free agency than draft a first round QB. I’m not sure Carroll would act in the same way, but I think he might be leaning towards experience in the early years of this latest project. Win forever is more than just the name of a book and competition isn’t something restricted to the players during training camp. Carroll wants to win – it’s what he’s become used to after years of USC dominance in the PAC 10.

When he arrived in Seattle the team almost immediately traded for Charlie Whitehurst – a 28-year-old veteran coming from the Norv Turner school of quarterbacking. Even though Whitehurst didn’t have much game experience, he had been coached by one of the best in the business and associated with a top NFL quarterback (Philip Rivers) and one of the best backups (Billy Volek).

The Seahawks didn’t dip into a patchy class of quarterbacks, passing on Jimmy Clausen, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy et al to go in different directions in every round. Instead they brought in JP Losman to compete as the third stringer.

If you believe media reports Seattle were aggressive in their pursuit of Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb and it’s a rumor that has extended into this off season. Several reports have also surfaced suggesting the Seahawks have at least held talks with Cincinnati to discuss a potential move for former Carroll protigee Carson Palmer.

Perhaps this is just a case of leaving no stone unturned in the perpetual race to find that one guy who can lead this team to sustained success? Perhaps the 2011 draft is the next part of the puzzle and could provide the answer? Or maybe it really is all about the veterans?

Think about it – Seattle brings in another veteran who has at least some experience and grounding in the league. Someone Carroll thinks he can trust to start immediately. There’s no reason why the Seahawks cannot win in the NFC West with better quarterback play and Carroll must know that? If he’s looking to prepare the programme for the long term, maybe he will think short term at QB?

Once the win forever system is up and running and the team has some sustained success, he makes the splash on a rookie QB. Is it illogical? Is it really that far fetched to think Carroll believes Kevin Kolb is a safer bet than Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker? Absolutely not.

But again I will state how opposed to that suggestion I truly am. For starters, if you trade for a Kolb or a Palmer and it does cost you a first round pick or a combination of picks you have to get that instant success to justify the move. People will ask questions sooner of a player that is considered the finished article. Even if one of those two players offered an improved statistical performance to Matt Hasselbeck, if the offense doesn’t function or the team isn’t winning people will say, “was it worth it?” Yes the Seahawks can win in the NFC West with better quarterback play, but so can the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.

Signing Carson Palmer could be nothing more than a stop gap and a delaying of the inevitable. Kevin Kolb is a different matter in that he could legitimately start for many years – but how much are you willing to spend on a player who has earned a reputation actually based on very little other than sporadic form?

Even with a lockout injuction it appears impossible that free agency will take place before the 2011 draft. Do you really trade unknown 2012 draft stock for Kevin Kolb? If you’re willing to spend a top 5-10 pick on Kolb then it’s a non-issue. That is the worst case scenario. Again though, I’m not sure people would stomach a trade that saw the team bring in Kolb, struggle and then be left with the prospect of losing a top-ten pick.

If there is any concern about handing over the new era of Seahawks football to a rookie quarterback, at least people will expect growing pains. There won’t be the pressure to start the player immediately. Go back and sign Matt Hasselbeck if you have to, or trust in the big trade of 12 months ago and give Charlie Whitehurst his moment to show it was all worth it. If the rookie isn’t ready, c’est la vie.

At least then you’re geting a guy you can mould how you wish. Someone who can grow with what is going to be a younger team. Someone you can build around – highlight the strengths and mask the weaknesses. Whether you’re drafting a prospect or signing Kevin Kolb – you know you need a better offensive line and more playmakers. Doesn’t drafting a rookie just buy you an extra year to further improve those positions?

Of course the argument I’ve missed so far is the one that states the lack of options early in the draft. If the top four quarterbacks are long gone by #25 and this front office feels the same way about Ponder, Dalton etc as I do, then Kolb and Palmer suddenly become merely alternatives to Hasselbeck and not the rookies.

That is of course, unless you’re willing to move up.

Things will become clearer after the draft and even more so whenever football re-starts and we see who it is that leads the offense into battle. The simple fact is we just don’t know enough about this regime at the moment to accurately guess what the plan is. All we know is they’ve had strong attendance at both Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett’s pro-days and that the Arkansas QB is today completing a two-day visit to Seattle.

There’s the facts. If only we had more to work off?


  1. Bret L

    What if the Hawks don’t have the opportunity to draft one of the top four QB’s and after the draft they trade for Palmer and next year they draft their future QB? That would make it possible for them to develop the young QB and while he develops Palmer can be the starter. I agree with you that their biggest need is to find their future QB but with the lockout it could make it harder for them to make it happen this year.

    • Rob

      Palmer will cost a first round pick or at least multiple second rounders. I’m not even sure there’s a deal to be done, Cincinnati are pretty clear they won’t be dictated to and appear ready to let Palmer retire to make a statement to anyone else on that roster.

      The second issue there is you’re trading blind picks for ageing players. That pick on Palmer could be a top ten pick or at least a 2012 second rounder in the 33-45 range. Adding a late round flier won’t offer any guarantees if Palmer doesn’t work out, so what do you do? It’s a plan that only really works if Palmer succeeds, which in itself is a gamble.

  2. Misfit74


    Surely we’ll strike for one of those QBs to solve this position for awhile.

    • Rob

      Only the first two are logical options IMO to solve the position for a while.

  3. diehard82

    I want to see Whitehurst start and get the entire 2011-12 season to mature. If he’s a flop, we’ll be picking high and can draft Luck, Barkley, Jones, Foles or whomever and go the route of St. Louis. However, Whitehurst might play well, the lightbulb might go on, the experience might develop. I can’t imagine paying him $8MM and not giving him 12-16 starts to either prove himself or fail. I do not want Hasselbeck back. Terrific guy, but not willing to play the backup role yet and not worthy of starting another year. Last year, the last 3 years, have been terrible with a handful of good games scattered in.

    That said, I’d like to see them draft Kaepernick in the late 2nd or 3rd round. Trade down from 57 or up from 99, but don’t panic like the media suggests QB needy teams will, and let him develope for 2 years. Buy low and sell high. If QB needy teams are panicking and drafting QB’s early, take advantage of the other talent that is dropping. We have plenty of holes to fill.

    • ChavaC

      I agree with Kaepernick, physically and mentally he looks like he can be exactly the QB the PC has been looking for. If nothing can be done in the first, I say draft him and give Charlie a year to show how bad he is.

  4. Ben H

    This doesn’t really jive with Win Forever but I figure Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, and Landry Jones must be at least somewhere within John Schneider’s head and he obviously has Pete’s ear. The most logical path toward one of them would be to continue trying to sign Matt to a one or two year deal.

    If that falls through then then it wouldn’t surprise me if Charlie got the inside track to the job over whatever unturned stone we can find. He at least showed enough to get by the Rams. Add another playmaker at receiver and I’ll be almost legitimately intrigued to see what Charlie could do with our offense.

    • Rob

      Landry Jones is vastly over rated if we’re putting him in the same bracket as the other two. He’s from a pass-friendly offense which helps statistically, but we shouldn’t be talking about him as a first round pick at this stage. Not yet.

      Luck will go first overall, no question about it – and no GM is planning on their team being the worst in the NFL and possibly winning 0-2 games. Barkley I suspect won’t declare because if he stays until his senior year, he can play in a major bowl game for USC when the sanctions are lifted. So I doubt the Seahawks are looking ahead to next year’s class as a solution.

      • Ben H

        Hmmmm alright. I’m just wondering if it’s really so essential for us to find a solution THIS off-season.

        • Rob

          I would say so, just because right now Whitehurst is the only contracted QB. If you’re going to rebuild (and Seattle is in a rebuild) it makes sense to build around the quarterback. There are logical options available in this draft, even if it means a bold move. The grass will not always be greener for the Seahawks or any other team. If they simply are not convinced by the prospects on offer then it’s understandable that they’ll wait or search out veteran options, but one day they’ll have to take a risk on someone, it’s unavoidable.

          • Ben H

            I’m all for taking the risk on a rookie QB but I’m wondering about the wisdom in forcing the situation. Couldn’t an argument be made that Pete bought himself some breathing room with the win over the Saints? Pick 25 is not exactly a position of strength. It will be expensive to move up as far as we’ll have to for one of the top QBs. It’s obviously unclear whether there will be a QB worth taking next year but we’ll most likely be in a much stronger position to do so if there is, especially if we start Whitehurst.

            The 2012 QB class has one guaranteed star, which is more than most classes can say prior to the season. I’m curious what you think is overrated about Jones?

          • Ben H

            Jones passes the eye-ball test so far as I can tell. Is there anything specific about his play that’s discouraging apart from being in a QB friendly system?

  5. Kip

    Here is what we know:

    -Pete Carroll said in a recent interview that he and John Schneider already have formulated a plan and that they are currently working through that plan to address the QB issue.

    -Matt Hasselbeck was supposedly seeking money similar to what Jeff Garcia got from the Buccaneers a few years ago (5+ mil per). Seattle instead made a much smaller series of offers which Hasselbeck flatly rejected. Hasselbeck later said he “expected” a deal to happen, indicating some degree of surprise that a compromise was not reach.

    -From this you could speculate that the first part of PC/JS’s plan was to see if they could get back Hasselbeck on the cheap. This would allow them the flexibility to trade or release Hasselbeck with more ease should he fail, and give him less entitlement for the job. The less he’s paid, the less it hurts to bench him.

    -Its only rumors, but rumors have been flying that Seattle has reached out to the Bengals for Palmer and the Eagles for Kolb. It would almost be surprising if they hadn’t, since the motto of this young administration is “due diligence.” They did this only AFTER failing to sign Hasselbeck cheap, which causes me to suspect that they see Hasselbeck as being roughly in the same role as Palmer- a veteran who can temporarily hold down the fort. If they really wanted Kolb/Palmer all along, they wouldn’t have given Hasselbeck any offers at all.

    -When we look at this upcoming draft, we have to remember that John Schneider isn’t the kind of guy who “wings it” with decisions. He has a system in place that he learned from Ted Thompson and he follows it meticulously. That system generally stresses not trading up and being patient on draft day. Will Seattle consider a QB in round 1? I think they would, but only if QB represents great value at the #25 pick (Mallett, possibly Locker).

    -Would Seattle draft a “project” with a later pick? Absolutely. Seattle has two QB spots open to fill, and my hunch says that this admin would prefer acquiring a veteran to start. If the plan is to trade for Palmer, then drafting a guy like Colin Kaepernick makes a lot of sense in rounds 2-4. That is, a QB who could be great but needs 2-3 years to sit and learn.

    Anyway, this is just me thinking aloud, but I’m guessing this “plan” PC spoke of probably isn’t far off from that.

  6. Dave

    If starting Barkley as a true freshman falls under ‘Win Forever’ surely a rookie in the NFL can too.

    • Dave

      But at the same time, he did win that job and Carroll seems committed to letting the best man play

      • Rob

        I’d say it’s less of an issue at USC where you can fill a roster with 5-star recruits. Carroll was also very disappointed when Mark Sanchez chose to declare, leaving a big hole at the QB position. Obviously in the NFL you don’t plan one guy to be a starter (Sanchez) and then find he’s gone. So I suspect Carroll’s hand was forced a bit there.

  7. andy

    I too am also ready to let Matt go and give Charlie a chance to see what he’s got next year. If one of the top QBs drops to #25 pull the trigger otherwise draft one of the projects in a later round.
    Kapernick is very intriguing at #57 or later. Nathan Enderle could be had in a late round…….

  8. Matt Q.

    I looked at the Walter football mock draft (im sure you know about it) and he has jake locker and ryan mallett in the second round. If they bith fall that far, who do you think the seahawks would rather take at the 25th pick?

    • Matt

      Walter Football also has Ponder and Dalton before Locker and Mallett…that’s scary, especially considering he has Shanahan passing on Locker twice including the second time for Andy Dalton.

      I am not sure as to who the Seahawks would prefer in all honesty. I could see them being intrigued by both guys for different reasons. I think if they were seeking instant gratification, they would take Mallett. But, if they wanted to build a specific system and didn’t mind taking a year or 2, then Locker would make the most sense, as I feel he is still very much a moldable project.

  9. Norm M

    I watched the NFL Networks Path to the Draft yesterday. They had a segment where Steve Mariucci interviewed and ran Ponder through drills. It seemed to me like he was very impressed with Ponder. If Ponder, Locker, or Mallet were to drop past the 2nd round, what are the chances that Seattle would try to trade down for additional picks and still pick up one of the mentioned QB’s in the second? Picks 26-32 all have franchise QB’s and most likely Carolina will have one as well by that time? If we could pick up one of those QB’s, gain a pick, possibly a 3rd, and still address the OL or DL with our #56 I feel that would be a win win.

    I know you have not been a hudge Ponder fan but with his recovery from injuries and a good fit for a WCO he seems to be a possible choice.

    Thanks again for the great site, I appreciate all your work.

    • Rob

      I cannot stress enough how limited Christian Ponder really is. I’m not surprised he’s managed to repair some of the major damage he did to his stock, but none of it is relevant to me. The injury red flags should put teams off in a big way, but not as much as the serious issues I have with his on the field game. Locker or Mallett I can buy in to, but they won’t fall out of round one.

      • Matt

        How is Ponder any different than Sam Bradford last year in terms of injury problems? If he’s cleared by the medical guys, I would prefer Ponder over Locker or Mallett. The front office has shown that they won’t necessarily shy away from guys that have had past injuries – Walter Thurmond, Leon, Chester Pitts to name a few. If Ponder falls to us in the 2nd, I’d be thrilled.

      • kevin mullen

        Not to mention his decline for a medical “recheck” of his shoulder, that’s got to hurt his stock in the long run…

        • Rob

          Sam Bradford missed a year and didn’t play. Ponder played and struggled having been cleared to return from injury. We never saw any physical impact of Braford’s injury in terms of poor performance. He came back too soon against Texas in 2009, got injured again and then did the sensible thing to get the shoulder fixed. Ponder had surgery, was cleared and looked awful.

          Then you also take into account how vastly superior in every way Bradford is to Ponder…

  10. Billy Showbiz

    I think I’m ready to move on from Hasselbeck too. Above Kip mentions that he was only offered 5 Million per year which leads me to believe that the Hawks are done with him too considering they gave Charlie 4 Mil per year. Everyone likes to call Charlie Capt. Checkdown which was fair after that Rams game but my guess is that Bates and Carroll told him to be extra careful with the football. Given more freedom to use that big arm we may see something better than what he put out there last year. If we keep Hasselbeck we’re just prolonging the inevitable and probably resigning ourselves to an average season at best. Matt is not going to be Kurt Warner. He does not have the arm or the receivers. Of course we also do have to draft a QB early if we run with Charlie. The last thing we want is to end up like the Cardinals did this year.

  11. Brandon Adams

    Rob, I did just think of one reason Seattle’s front office might be working so hard on free-agent QB’s. They may very much prefer to draft long-term talent for the spot and may very much be interested in Locker or Mallett..BUT they may realistically be expecting, as we are, that neither will fall anywhere close to #25 and that free agency is the only option we have this year.

    • kevin mullen

      If we look back to last year with AZ and how they prepared for their season with the current QBs they have, I think we are in much better shape with Charlie at the helm. Not saying that Charlie’s the answer but I’d take his abilities over anyone else’s in this division. AZ had 2 rookies and Derek Anderson, enough said. They too will have to look at other options this offseason, but in my mind, we’re far better shape (QB wise) then they are. At least we know that Matt’s still in play and highly doubtful that he’d play for anyone else in our division.

      That said, draft for the trenches and hope we have a few guys drop to us in the first two rounds! Locker to Titus Young/Leonard Hankerson does have a nice ring to it…

      • Brandon Adams

        I would also take Whitehurst over any QB in the division, but that says more about the other QB’s in the division than it does about Whitehurst.

        • jfox

          I don’t know about you but I would gladly have Sam Bradford over Whitehurst any Sunday…

          • kevin mullen

            Well, yeah if the ‘Hawks had the 1st pick in 2010, sure, I’ll take Bradford too. Bradford is on another level, wasn’t really in the convo with the other three teams in division with “veteran” QBs.

  12. kevin mullen


    What’s your opinion on the ‘Hawks being the only team at Greg McElroy’s Pro Day? I know there’s probably not much substance to them drafting him as of now but in the event they do, what’s his potential on being with the ‘Hawks and does he fit the “Bevell” philosophy?

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