NFL doors are opened and players are allowed into team facilities, but are unable to do any conditioning or weight-lifting- except two NFL teams.
The Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills remain locking their players out of their buildings.
Seahawks RB Justin Forsett tweeted: “Just tried getting in the facility #Fail“.
WR Deon Butler and CB Roy Lewis also were not allowed past the parking lot in Seattle.
Currently the NFL is appealing the ruling of Judge Nelson’s in regards of lifting the lockout which came, Monday.
The NFL Draft kicks-off 8 p.m., Thursday, April 28 on ESPN and NFL Network.
Judge Nelson ruled today that the NFL Owners need to lift the Lockout and allow business to continue. This is a big win for Players and fans in the short term. The NFL will likely appeal the ruling.
If it holds up it gives the players a bit of power in the new CBA negotiations. This could be bad for both players and fans long term. How can it be bad for players to make more money you ask?
If the new CBA creates an economic atmosphere that fails to produce adequate profit margins for the owners they will invest their money elsewhere. Yes, they make a lot of money. But it’s important to remember how much money they have tied up in these franchises and the financial risks involved with having nearly 1 Billion Dollars invested in a single endeavor. There are a few owners like Jerry Jones for whom football is everything, but for the most part these are business men who have made billions making smart investments. If they are unable to make enough profit to make it viable as an honest investment, many will simply sell their franchise.
New ownership groups will be hard to find because even though players like to say they are the product, and they are irreplaceable, imagine how hard it will be to find people willing to invest a large fortune in an organization where they can’t turn a meaningful profit. What you will end up with will be the equivalent of slum lords who buy teams at a wholesale price and run them into the ground. New facility construction will halt, and overall conditions will decline. With that revenue will decrease, and ultimately that will lead to the players getting a larger percentage of a much smaller pie.
The first week of pre-season football will host a nationally televised game for the defending NFC West Division Champions, Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks will travel to San Diego where they meet-up with the Chargers on Thursday, Aug. 11th.
With the lockout still being resolved there very well may not be a pre-season, but if there it is it could be a match-up of Charlie Whiterhust taking on the team that traded him to Seattle.
Matt Hasselbeck is currently a free agent as well as 3rd-string quarterback JP Losman. Nate Davis was signed back in January, but shortly was released. With those moves currently Whitehurst is the only quarterback on the Seahawks roster.
Remaining of the Seahawks Pre-Season Schedule:
Thurs. Aug. 11- at San Diego Chargers (ESPN)
Sat. Aug. 20- vs. Minnesota Vikings (a team that could be interested in Hasselbeck once free agency starts)
Sat. Aug. 27- at Denver Broncos
Thurs. Sept. 1- vs. Oakland Raiders (Tom Cable returns to Oakland since being fired after the 2010 season)
The regular season schedule most likely will be released the week of the NFL Draft.
The Mariners farm system had a terrific year last year, and it was actually the best year by the Mariners minor league affiliates in Franchise history. Only one affiliate did not make it to the postseason and two of the affiliates, the Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) and the Everett Aqua Sox (Short Season), each won their league’s title. This year’s minor league teams have some big shoes to fill but there is still a lot of great talent remaining and even more has been added to the system.
The reigning Pacific Coast League Champions kick of their season on the road against the Sacramento River Cats. Luke French will be pitching for the Rainiers tomorrow. The Rainiers don’t make their home opener until Friday, the 15th in the brand new Cheney Stadium. The biggest name to watch for on this team is Dustin Ackley who shouldn’t stick around at AAA for long. Once June comes around, Mr. Ackley should be manning second base on the big league roster.
The Jackson Generals, formerly the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, will be kicking off the season with a brand new name, logo, and everything else that comes with. Anthony Vasquez will be on the mound for the Generals as they start the season on the road against the Mississippi Braves. The Generals will be going up against one of the top pitching prospects in the league in Randall Delgado. Their first home game is on Wednesday, the 13th.
As we head down to the desert, the High A Desert Mavericks kick their season off on the road against the Lancaster Jethawks. The opening day starter has yet to be announced but I’m making a guess and saying that it will be right-hander Yoervis Medina. This league is known for its huge offensive numbers and we often see a lot of players really break out while playing here. Watch for the toolsy outfielder James Jones to really take off this year. The Mavericks first home game is Thursday, the 14th.
The Clinton Lumberkings won the Midwest League West division title, but they fell short of bringing home the MWL Championship Title as they lost in the final series to the Lake County Captains. Forrest Snow will be on the mound for the Lumberkings as they kick off the season at home against Burlington Bees. I did an interview with Snow this offseason and he is a great guy. http://www.swinginginseattle.com/2011/01/interview-with-forrest-snow.html
He spent last year as a reliever in which he was very dominant but he has been stretched out and will now be working as a starter. This is a talented group of players and they should compete again for the division and league championship.
Make sure you follow me on twitter @Mike_Schwartze for updates on all of the Mariners Minor League Affiliates throughout the season.
The wait is finally over! The Mariners kick off the 2011 Major League season against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland. The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 PT and we will see a great pitching matchup between the reining AL Cy Young Award Winner, Felix Hernandez, and right-handed pitcher Trevor Cahill.
The active 25-man roster heading into the season look as follows:
Pitchers: Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, Brandon League, Chris Ray, Aaron Laffey, David Pauley, Jamey Wright, Josh Lueke, Tom Wilhelmsen.
Catchers: Miguel Olivo and Adam Moore
Infielders: Justin Smoak, Jack Wilson, Chone Figgins, Brendan Ryan, Luis Rodriguez, Adam Kennedy
Outfielders: Ichiro Suzuki, Milton Bradley, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders
Designated Hitters: Jack Cust
The rotation will be Hernandez, Vargas, Fister, Bedard, and Pineda.
Tomorrow’s opening day lineup will be as follows:
- Ichiro Suzuki, RF
- Chone Figgins, 3B
- Milton Bradley, LF
- Jack Cust, DH
- Justin Smoak, 1B
- Miguel Olivo, C
- Ryan Langerhans, CF
- Brendan Ryan, SS
- Jack Wilson, 2B
P. Felix Hernandez
Some more Opening Day Notes:
The Mariners have a few notable players starting the season on the DL, Franklin Gutierrez and David Aardsma. Both should be back by mid-April so we shouldn’t worry too much. Brandon League has been named the closer in Aardsma’s absence. Another thing to watch for is that Ichiro needs only 3 hits to tie Edgar Martinez for the franchise record in hits.
This is what we have all been waiting for, baseball season is finally here. Let us enjoy tomorrow’s game and hope for progress to be made this year.
Last year Seattle went after Charlie Whitehurst- the quarterback they felt would be the future when Matt Hasselbeck was ready to retire or leave in free agency.
Despite Whitehurst never having any true NFL experience the Seahawks gave up quite a bit in draft picks for the unproven Whitehurst. To acquire Whitehurst the Seahawks had to swap second-round picks and send the Chargers a 3rd-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Whitehurst would appear in six games for the Seahawks starting two- including a Week 17 match-up with the St. Louis Rams. Winner takes home the NFC West Division crown and would earn the chance to host a home play-off game against defending Super Bowl Champions the New Orleans Saints.
Whitehurst would go 22-for-36 with 192-yards and a touchdown defeating the Rams 16-6 and giving the Seahawks their seventh all-time division title and fifth in the past seven-years.
Despite Whitehurs’s success the Seahawks still have their doubts as to whether or not Whitehurst is their future at quarterback. In only six-years in the NFL he’s appeared in eight games- starting two of them completing 57 passes for 507-yards and two touchdowns.
Now the Philadelphia Eagles are shopping former 2nd-round pick Kevin Kolb and according to Sports Illustrated Don Banks the Seahawks could turn out to be the top suitor for Kolb.
Unlike Whitehurst, Kolb has proven himself he’s played in 19-games- starting seven of them and passed for 2,082-yards and 11 touchdowns, but has also thrown 14 interceptions.
If Seattle were to trade for Kolb they most likely would have to give up more to the Eagles than they did for Whitehurst- a 2nd-round pick in 2010 and a 3rd-round pick in 2011.
It might cost them a 1st-round pick in this year’s draft (25th overall) and a conditional pick in 2012, but is that worth it?
Kolb could be a product of a system and he has yet to truly show his potential with the Eagles. He lost the starting job to Michael Vick after an injury, but prior to the injury he had thrown for six touchdowns and only four interceptions. Maybe all Kolb needs is a chance to prove himself.
I’m a strong believer in competition at the quarterback position and he would get that with Whitehurst, but is it worth giving up more picks to get him?
The biggest issue might be if no one is on the board come Seattle’s pick in the 2011 Draft than you make the trade, but if there is a player who will fill a hole or improve your team do you pull the trigger for Kolb?
It will be a question that will have to be answered fairly sooner than later, but two things are for sure- Kolb has proven himself and that is way more than Whitehurst had done when Seattle acquired him.
Finally Carroll is all about competition at any position and willing to take risks.
The uncertainty will be if Kolb is the next risk Carroll and GM John Schneider take on.
The NFL issued the compensatory picks and the Seattle Seahawks were awarded the 241st pick. That is a late seventh round pick and as it stands now will be the Seahawks final pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams considered to have a net loss during the previous seasons Free Agency period. No one knows the formula used to determine what a team will receive but after losing Nate Burelson in the opening hours of free agency last year most would have expected Seattle to receive a better pick.
Notable players drafted with the 241st pick since the 2000 draft are:
•Rob Meier DT Washington State drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2000. 215 Tackles 21.5 Sacks and played for them until being released in February of 2010
•Ken Dorsey QB drafted in 2003 by the 49ers was a backup for them 2003-2005 and then joined the Browns from 2006-2008. He threw 8TD’s 18INT for 2,082 yards and a 55.2 career passer rating.
•Sean McHugh TE Penn State drafted in 2004 by the Titans but was cut during training camp but signed with the Packers for the 04′ season. He then joined the Lions (2005-2007). After being released at the end of training camp 2008 he signed with the Steelers and was released before the Season started last year. 2007 was his best season with 17 receptions for 252 yards.
•Geoff Schwartz OT Oregon drafted by the Panthers in 2008 started all 16 games for the team last season.
We haven’t seen any stars develop from the 241st draft pick but there have been players who contribute and continue to contribute. The last two 241st picks are still in the league but there is insufficient data to make a decision on them yet.
One of the biggest questions heading into spring training was where Dustin Ackley would start the year. Many projected that he would begin the year at AAA Tacoma (including myself) so that he could fine tune his defense at second and avoid Super Two arbitration status. Well the decision is final as the Mariners assigned him to AAA today. This will be a great opportunity for fans to see Ackley at the brand new Cheney Stadium to open the year. He should make his major league debut sometime in June.
The Mariners made a lot more moves today regarding non-roster invitees.
The Mariners announced that Gabe Gross will be assigned to minor league camp. He has had a very rough spring, hitting .077 in 26 at-bats. He could end up at AAA Tacoma or possibly be released.
Ryan Langerhans has been hitting .333 in 36 at-bats and has earned the role of reserve outfielder on the opening day roster. He was brought in to compete with Gross, and Jody Gerut for the job.
The Mariners assigned catching prospect Steven Baron to minor league camp as well. Baron had zero chance of making the opening day roster but he was brought up to provide some catching depth and work with the veterans. Baron is great defensively but he will need to greatly improve his offensive game if he hopes to one day reach the majors.
Fabio Castro gave up 5 runs in 7 innings this spring which wasn’t enough to keep him around. The very small, 5’7” 185lb lefty should stick around at AAA for some left-handed relief depth.
Sean Kazmar came into camp with an outside shot to compete for a bench utility role. He hasn’t helped his cause, hitting .130 in 23 at-bats. He may end up in Tacoma to serve as a utility player but we will have to wait and see.
The Seattle Seahawks entered the 2011 Free Agency period with many needs. Unfortunately for Seattle, the only free agents they’ve had an opportunity to negotiate with have been their own.
Seattle did re-sign a few of their players, squeezing them in just under the wire before the labor issues began to be felt in earnest. The biggest move was giving return specialist and backup RB Leon Washington a new four-year deal.
Washington is slated to earn $12.5 million over the term of the contract, and could reach $16 million if he hit undisclosed incentives. The all-important guaranteed money is $3.5 million.
To be fair, when the deal was inked the last thing either side was concerned with was the guaranteed part of the contract. Washington is second only to Devin Hester as a kick returner, and offers some value as a change of pace RB.
But today the NFL owners approved a rule change that calls the value of Washington’s contract into question. The NFL will move kickoffs back up to the 35 Yard Line, following 15 years of being placed at the 30.
Washington might have just become a very expensive kickoff shag man, and Seattle fans might have reasons to wonder why Pete Carroll and John Schneider inked this kind of a deal for a return man with the rule changes that were on the table. To be fair, the recommendation wasn’t made until after Washington’s contract was signed, but there were signs that the NFL would make another change to kickoff rules (they adjusted what was a legal “wedge” on kick returns during the 2010 offseason).
The owners’ vote was 26-6 in favor of the change. Coaches didn’t seem to echo their employers’ feelings, and some players are very upset. While the owners do respect that there could be a change to the game (there will be), they claim they were more concerned with improving player safety (it WON’T be). Both of those assertions validate analysis, but this review won’t be discussing the impact on special teams in fantasy football leagues.
Changes in the Game
The NFL moved kicks from the 35 to the 30 in 1994 to liven up the game. Touchbacks were on the rise, and return yards were decreasing. The change worked. Touchbacks dropped, and average return yards and TDs both increased.
Most everyone agreed the change improved the game—kick returns are very exciting and can change momentum. Whereas touchbacks…they’re just boring.
As kickers became stronger, touchback percentages started to rise. In fact, they have increased each of the last 6 years—from 9.1% in 2005 to 16.4% in 2010. Billy Cundiff (K, Baltimore Ravens) punched over 70% of his kicks into the end zone in 2010, with 40 of 79 (52.6%) being downed for a touchback. With the move to the 35 his new goal may be to just split the uprights.
Not surprisingly, several return specialists and their coaches are speaking out against the change.
Bottom of Form
“I don’t like the rule,” Washington said on the Brock & Salk Show (710 ESPN Seattle). “And I’m sure Brad Smith and Devin Hester and Joshua Cribbs and the rest of the guys that do a really good job of returning the ball don’t like the rule.”
Washington continued “It’s a part of the game that’s really exciting. I think fans look forward to it because it’s an instant momentum-changer.” Washington proved that time and again for Seattle in 2010, including two TDs vs. the Chargers that led to Seattle’s victory.
Cribbs didn’t let Washington down, stating via Twitter: “Essentially taking returners out of the game…injuries will still take place, then what move it up again, or eliminate it all together.”
Devin Hester’s coach also sounded off. Before the rule was passed, Lovie Smith said “You just wonder how did we get to this point? First off, I can’t believe we’re really talking about it, the most exciting play in football. You would think we would want to keep that in.
“We would work as hard as we could to try to make it safer, but to eliminate that to me is just kind of tearing up the fiber of the game a little bit. Yeah, we have a great returner. But that’s a big part of the game. Our fans are probably more interested in coming there to see Devin Hester running a ball back as opposed to seeing a kicker kick it out of the end zone with no action.”
Improvement to Player Safety
Concerns over player safety on kickoffs are important to consider, and is what reportedly prompted the change.
Bottom of Form
When asked about the six no votes, Atlanta Falcon’s president and competition committee chairman Rich McKay said: “The objections were, ’Hey, you’re affecting my team.’ Clearly, some teams have good kick returners and they said, ’What if there’s 10 percent less returns?’
However, some of those comments also stated that the change won’t improve safety. Aforementioned Chicago Bear head coach Lovie Smith noted that in two year, they have only seen one injury in the kicking game…a twisted ankle that would have happened anyway.
While anecdotal information is only a small part of the story, coaches had solid rationale that this is not a safety issue. When pushed on this point McKay added “We have no answer, but player safety will always trump any other consideration.”
When making a rule change such as this, it would seem prudent to have a better feel for what the current impact is. The NFL has speculation, and some data to support that kickoffs hold some added risk. However, they lack conviction on if the change will actually meet the desired end. It is almost as if there is something else at play (more on that in a moment).
One point the competition committee may have failed to give adequate consideration to is that player safety could actually be sacrificed with this change.
Kickers are more adept at reaching the end zone than they were in 1994, and members of the kicking team are certainly faster. Yes, the new rule requires them to be within five yards of the ball, but this will not make them any slower at the point of impact, and will only save a half-stride in them getting down the field.
Bottom of Form
Some kickers, such as Jay Feely of the Arizona Cardinals, thrive on obtaining hang time and dropping the ball in front of the goal line. Pay attention during the summer exhibition games, as kickers will be experimenting with dropping the ball inside the 10 and giving gunners an opportunity to stop returners in their tracks.
The ongoing labor issues can’t be ignored as this issue is discussed. The owners claim to be taking a stance in favor of player safety, and undoubtedly will use this in their bargaining positions. One thing that likely won’t get mentioned, though, is they just reduced a chunk of their payroll. There is no reason to pay a return man Washington’s money, and Hester’s current deal (worth between $5 and $10 million a year over four years) certainly wouldn’t have been signed.
This vote is quite likely all about the owners and labor negotiations. Once again, fans of the NFL are an afterthought and the players are being used as pawns.
On another note, a rule was also passed prohibiting teams from changing the color of their grass. McKay noted with a smile, “We don’t want any red fields like at Eastern Washington.” To that end, anyone associated with the Falcons has little room to talk about the aesthetic qualities of a football team. It should be noted…the Eagles won the FCS championship and are likely not at all concerned with McKay casting aspersions.
Originally posted on Bleacher Report on March 11, 2011 Written by Darin Pike
Seattle’s Draft / Free Agency Expectations for QB
Now up on my weekly position reports: Quarterback.
The Seattle Seahawks’ 2011 offseason has quickly revealed an urgency at the quarterback position. A few weeks ago, Seattle had a proven veteran on the roster, albeit with some questions surrounding his abilities going forward. They also had a solid backup with some potential to be a starter, and a young project with a cannon for an arm and good legs.
As the NFL works through a second extension of the current CBA, Seattle finds itself with just one quarterback on the roster. Matt Hasselbeck appears headed to test the free-agent waters, and Nate Davis was released without comment from the Seahawks.
Seattle appeared to have perhaps one more season before they needed to find additional options at quarterback. Now, the position joins both lines in needing immediate attention.
Seattle needs to sign at least two quarterbacks. One will likely come via April’s draft, with the remaining spot being filled via free agency or trade. Many still expect the free agent signing to be Matt Hasselbeck, while others are hoping to see Seattle make a big trade for a QB.
By now some readers are fixed on the current inability to sign or trade players. For current purposes, I’m going to continue with the expectations I laid out in a labor article last week. The owners and NFLPA will agree on another extension at some point today. In the very near future the two sides will be close enough on terms that they will sign a final extension, taking us through spring and a final agreement. The last extension will allow free agency to start prior to the NFL draft.Editor’s Note: Obviously I missed on that one…BIG TIME. Seattle will have to draft a QB, albeit likely in a later round, and attempt to add a third option once free agency and trades resume.
NFL Draft: The Seattle Seahawks Need a QB with Starter or Solid Backup Potential
The release of Nate Davis seems to erase the question of “if” Seattle will grab a QB in the draft. Now the question is “in what round will they make their move?”
The answer likely has a lot more to do with who is available than what round Seattle would prefer to dedicate a pick to the position. There are anywhere from three to six QBs being talked about as late first- to second-round picks. If the Seattle front office is interested in any of them, they will need to use their pick at 25 to get into position to snag one.
If Jake Locker is available at 25, it isn’t a stretch to imagine him being a Seahawk this fall. Any other available QB would be just that (a stretch) with that pick.
Cameron Newton, Auburn
Newton figures to be either a huge bust or a huge success. Regardless, the cost for Seattle to trade into position to draft him would be too great. I’d rather roll the dice with Whitehurst this season and acquire picks for 2012 and go after Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley.
Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
Gabbert has been called the most NFL-ready QB, and will be a top 10 selection. I’m not sold on his value, particularly for Seattle. There is no reason to believe he’ll be available, nor is he worth giving up the needed draft capital to move up the board to draft him. That, and I really don’t see Gabbert as being an NFL QB, but that is a different story.
Jake Locker, Washington
Locker is definitely this season’s wild card at the QB position. He’s been pegged everywhere from the 10th pick to the third round. The 2010 draft held several QBs in this position (Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen, and to a lesser extent, Colt McCoy). This year, Locker is joined by Ryan Mallett as draft day wild cards.
Locker’s positive qualities (arm strength, athleticism, character, work ethic and intelligence) definitely put him as a top five selection. His negatives (accuracy and decision making) makes him a third or fourth-round talent.
Most NFL scouts and coaches will need to rely on film and interviews with Locker to balance the pros and cons. They will need to determine how much of his problems were mechanics-related or attributable to lesser talent on the Husky offense and if the deficiencies are teachable areas or not.
Carroll has one obvious advantage over the 15 or so other teams that might be tempted to draft Locker. The closeness Carroll shares with Locker’s coach, Steve Sarkisian, allows enhanced insight on what actually plagued Locker during his senior season. While Sarkisian will likely be cautious with other teams in interviews, candor is expected in conversations with the coach that helped cultivate his career.
I’ve gone back and forth with Locker being a fit for Seattle. I watched him at the combine and thought he put in a very strong performance. His footwork looked improved, he threw a very solid deep ball and his timing routes were spot-on. It prompted me to go back and watch his snaps in the Senior Bowl and several of his college games.
There was a footwork issue, and my concern with him looking to run way too soon was also reaffirmed. At times, there were outlet options with room, but he tucked and ran before making it through his progressions.
What I have concluded is that much of Locker’s issues dealt with a poor offensive line and inexperienced receiver options. A lack of faith in his targets catching the ball, and even less faith in his offensive line giving him time to go through progressions, led him to take the game on his shoulders. In the first Nebraska game, he tried to force the ball to receivers that weren’t open. Later in the season, he chose to run instead of forcing passes.
If Locker happens to be available at 25, I firmly believe he’ll be drafted by Carroll. Even if his accuracy issues continue, he’ll be a better option than Whitehurst. If he can elevate his game, he’ll be a much better QB than Kolb and could become an elite QB in several years.
I have my doubts on other teams letting him get that far, though. If they do, Locker is worth the risk.
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas
Leading up to declaration day for the 2010 draft, some mock drafts had Mallett going in the first 15 picks of the first round. The financial cost tied to Locker’s decision to stay for his senior year has received a lot of attention. Mallett stands to lose almost as much as Locker.
There is little question regarding Mallett’s ability to throw the ball. He has a very strong arm and is accurate as well. There have been some that question his accuracy, citing his Sugar Bowl game performance. I watched that game in large part just to watch Mallett, and he threw very well. If not for about 18 dropped balls, his stats would have been through the roof.
Mallet made the most of postseason workouts. He was as good as anyone in combine passing drills. He also performed very well at his pro day when throwing the ball. His 5.36 40 time should give some pause, as he’s been called a bit statuesque in the pocket—this could explain why. Still, the NFL Network analysts said he has worked himself back into opening day consideration.
Then there is the other side of Mallett. He might not be smart enough to read NFL defenses. He may have an issue with drug use. He also has a bit of an attitude. Check that—he’s a raving narcissist. This is my biggest issue with Mallett, and something that can’t be overlooked.
It is one thing to lead a huddle of college kids. They are your friends and you run the campus with them. You are all playing for school pride. Many of them have similar attitudes, and those that don’t are apt to overlook the arrogance for a player that is performing.
However, his antics simply won’t fly in the NFL. His dismissive attitude towards the press at the combine is just another example of why he will struggle gaining the respect a QB has to have in an NFL huddle. The QB must be the leader of the offense and Mallett is a long way from being able to command the needed respect. He may grow out of it, but he has Ryan Leaf potential.
I can’t see using a first round selection on Mallett. Seattle may decide to pass on selecting a QB in round one and gamble on him still being available in round two—and then gamble that Carroll and Bevell can turn him around. With his talent, Seattle’s pick in round two would be worth the risk.
Christian Ponder, Florida State
Ponder has been ranked from third to sixth on the QB charts, depending on what review one wants to rely on. He has an accurate arm and good athleticism, making him a good fit for a West Coast offense.
Given the huge need at the QB position, it would not be surprising to see Seattle grab him with their first pick (albeit after some maneuvering, discussed below). Seven of the first 10 teams to pick in the second round have a need at QB; Ponder won’t last until Seattle’s second pick.
One of Ponder’s strengths is his ability to extend plays with his legs. Unlike Locker, when Ponder tucks and scrambles he has shown the ability to keep his eyes downfield and get a pass off. Also unlike Locker, he lacks zip in intermediate range passes, and doesn’t have a strong arm on deep passes.
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
Kaepernick is every bit as intriguing as Ponder. Coming out of a pistol offense, he will likely need a few years to adjust to a professional offense and the speed of the NFL. This may be enough to discount him as a viable option for Seattle. Still, Kaepernick has a strong arm, is a hard, intelligent worker and is athletic. His legs will help him gain yards when scrambling and help him extend plays outside the pocket.
He figures to be a second-round pick, and grabbing him at 25 would be a stretch. Depending on who else is available on the draft board, Seattle may be able to acquire a few picks by trading down from 25. They have the “advantage” of having so many needs that teams behind them won’t know what direction they plan to go.
The Ravens need WR and CB help, and could be tempted to trade spots with Seattle to avoid losing their guy. That move would equate to the Ravens’ sixth-round selection. While not much, they might be able to parlay that with an additional trade.
The Bears and Steelers need help at OG—Chicago has to worry about Seattle drafting the top option at the position, and Pittsburgh has to recognize they are at risk with Chicago as well. A trade with one of those teams should yield a valuable third-round pick.
The Packers and Jets will likely be looking at DE, and might have minimal concerns about Seattle getting their player. However, both of them should be concerned with the Patriots, as they need help at the position, too. Green Bay would need to part with their third- and sixth-round picks to trade places with Seattle. If a move happens with the Jets, they would need to send their third-round selection and receive the aforementioned sixth-round pick hypothetically received from Baltimore.
Pat Devlin, Delaware
Devlin is also an intriguing option, and one that could be considered with Seattle’s fourth-round pick. He appears to be a well-rounded QB, but hasn’t played top competition.
It is hard to know if he’ll be able to make the big step to the NFL. He was impressive against Eastern Washington University in the FCS National Championship Game, but he’ll need to make quicker decisions in the NFL. Devlin can’t be ignored, and Joe Flacco has shown that Deleware QBs can step up and perform in the NFL.Editor’s Note: Devlin showed up to his Pro Day 30 minutes late and was terribly erratic with his throws. He is now likely a 7th round pick, but may be waiting until the CBA is settled to know where he will have a shot to play next season…after all—isn’t that when undrafted free agents can sign?
Andrew Dalton, TCU
Dalton is projected as a fourth- or fifth-round pick. He was considered a possible second- or third-round option earlier, but accuracy issues have made that less likely. There is a sharp concern that his performance was centered more on the system at TCU and talented players surrounding him. Seattle is better off using their fourth-round pick on a fullback.
The Rest of the Field
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa, Nathan Enderle, Idaho and Greg McElroy, Alabama: These QBs have potential to be starters in the NFL down the road, but don’t seem to meet Seattle’s need of a passer that can step up sooner as opposed to later. Should Seattle grab one of these options in a later round, we can expect that they are looking at someone in free agency and have their eye on one of the elite passers expected in the 2012 draft.
Trade: Is There an Available QB That Won’t Cost Too Much Draft Capital
Seattle could find someone to step in and fill the QB position immediately. That person may or may not be the long-term solution, though. A lot of names have been floated in recent weeks—here is a summary on some of the options.
Seattle showed an interest in trading for Kolb prior to the 2010 season. However, the Eagles weren’t quite ready to part with him. The expected contribution from Mike Vick was unclear at the time and Kolb was slated as their starter.
Entering the 2011 season, Philadelphia has made it clear that Kolb is available. Trading Kolb makes sense for the Eagles, provided they pull in the right compensation. Vick’s style of play leads to injury concerns and having a proven backup is important for their offense. They have that in Kolb, but with only one more season left in his contract, the long-term value of a few high draft picks makes him expendable.
Many see Kolb as following Aaron Rogers as the next breakout QB. His on-field performance to date doesn’t quite support the comparisons, though. He looks to be a solid starter, but expectations of being a star are premature.
In five starts last season, Kolb had a record of 2-3 with seven TDs and seven INTs. He averaged 235 yards per game.
Yes, he looked great against ATL and good vs. a SF team that was then torched for over 300 yards by such powerhouses as Carolina. But he looked terrible against Washington, Dallas and Tennessee. He had three TDs and six INTs in those three games—and isn’t that type of inconsistency the rationale some Seattle fans use for dumping Hasselbeck?
There has been a lot of speculation on where, if at all, Palmer will play the 2011 season. He has stated he will retire prior to playing another game in Paul Brown Stadium. This does give Seattle an advantage over most teams, as the Seahawks aren’t scheduled to play in Cincinnati until the 2015 season.
The Bengals have stated they won’t part with Palmer, but as they are faced with losing him with no compensation, their tune may change. Palmer’s stats were impressive in 2010, despite matching his career-worst interception total of 20. He struggled through a power struggle between Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
If Mike Brown changes his stance, the anticipated asking price for Palmer could make him an attractive option. He seems to have come back well from his injuries and should have several good seasons left. Seattle would likely be looking at surrendering their second-round pick in 2011 and a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft.
The advantage of acquiring Palmer is it would give Seattle several more seasons with a quality starter, and allow them to target one of the projected top prospects in the 2012 draft.
I’ll readily admit bringing Young in isn’t the most appealing option for Seattle. His style of play isn’t ideally suited for a West Coast system, and his passing performance hasn’t exactly set him apart. He has shown the ability to get wins, but that has more to do with his surrounding talent and ground game than his passing prowess. He won’t have that luxury in Seattle.
I’ve included Young because the price will be right. He is clearly not going to be back with the Titans—a team willing to part with a sixth-round pick will likely be able to garner his services.
Free Agency: Seattle Must Sign Someone That Can Challenge Whitehurst
There are few free agents that have shown the ability to control a passing game. Seattle has offered very little along the lines of a running game in recent years, which makes life problematic for most QBs. There is hope that the ground game will improve with Tom Cable taking over the offensive line and Darrell Bevell stepping in as the new offensive coordinator.
A rejuvenated run game will offer significant help for Seattle’s starting QB. Hasselbeck had the majority of the offense strapped to his shoulders in 2010. It worked well at times, but had disastrous effects at others. As for free-agent opportunities Seattle may pursue:
Hasselbeck has to be the first name on a list of potential free-agent signings. Despite concerns over his health and inconsistent production, he has the most familiarity with the skill position players that will be in the huddle during the 2011 season. He is also a proven winner and is coming off two spectacular playoff games.
Seahawk fans looking for a change from Hasselbeck point to the 17 INTs during the 2010 season as rationale for letting him move on. As brutal as the stats look, many of those turnovers were in desperation time and as a result of Hasselbeck pushing to make something happen. Regardless, at this point the Seahawks don’t have a better alternative.
While widely considered a bust for not playing up to his draft status, Smith can’t be blamed for all of his issues. He’s been playing for a 49er franchise that has had its share of issues in the front office and on the sidelines.
There has been little continuity, impacting the opportunity for Smith to succeed. I won’t go so far as to say an elite QB wouldn’t have been able to be productive in the turnover-riddled 49er organization—had they drafted Aaron Rodgers I believe he would have elevated the franchise.
The biggest issue for Smith in Seattle would be his injury history. Despite comments about Hasselbeck being frail and breaking down, Smith has missed more time to injury in his five seasons than Hasselbeck has in his career.
Leinart’s name has been mentioned repeatedly given his collegiate history with Pete Carroll. While a possibility, and one that is a little more likely following Seattle’s release of Davis, I don’t give much weight to this signing.
If Carroll saw Leinart as a potential starting QB in Seattle, I would have expected him to sign him when Arizona released him last season. Seattle’s lack of interest then is an indicator of what to expect in 2011.
If Leinart is going to attempt a resurrection of his career in 2011, Seattle sans Hasselbeck is a good place to do it. While he’s been criticized for a lack of a deep passing game and his proclivity to check down to short patterns, that approach will likely be a good fit with the offense Bevell will run.
There will be some expectations for a vertical passing game, but Seattle will look to exploit the size of Mike Williams in an intermediate passing game. Ben Obomanu and Golden Tate will be used across the field, and Seattle should look to exploit Tate’s athleticism in bubble screens, short post patterns and in the deep passing game. This approach would actually fit well with Leinart’s skill set.
Jackson hasn’t done much to garner extended attention in free agency. His time in Minnesota was so underwhelming that they failed to offer a tender offer prior to the end of the CBA. As such, Jackson is free to sign with any team once free agency begins.
Seattle would be in dire straits if they were relying on Jackson to step in and start. However, Jackson’s familiarity with Bevell makes him a possibility to challenge Whitehurst for backup duties. He has shown some signs of proficiency, and it is possible that a few years under Brett Favre allowed him to grow.
Summary: Projecting What Steps the 2011 Seahawks Take with Their QB Position
Despite performance challenges over the past few seasons, Hasselbeck still remains as the Seahawks’ best option for the 2011 season. With an emergence of a ground game, development at the receiver positions and some improvements on the offensive line, he can still be an effective QB. We saw that with two postseason games following the 2010 season.
Re-signing Hasselbeck would also provide some flexibility with drafting the future QB this April vs. next year.
It is possible, even likely, that a team will be willing to put up $25M over two years for Hasselbeck’s services. Should that happen, the likelihood of Seattle matching the offer seems low. Comments from the negotiations have been that the two teams are far apart on contract terms. If the Seahawks were willing to part with the kind of money it will take to re-sign Hasselbeck, I have a feeling it would have already happened.
I do not see Seattle making a move for Kolb at anywhere near the current asking price. They would likely pull the trigger in exchange for their first-round pick in 2011. Much beyond that is too much, though, as Kolb is not under contract beyond the 2011 season. That is too much risk for a QB that hasn’t shown himself to be much beyond an average starting QB.
There are significant concerns with Seattle giving up an early pick in 2012. The Seahawks face a brutal schedule in the 2011 season, and a poor finish would not be a big surprise. They could be picking early in each round, which could put them in position to make a play for one of the top picks in the first round. I doubt any Seahawk fans would want to see the team pass up an opportunity to draft Luck or Barkley because they gave up too much for Kolb.
Should Palmer become available, he would provide a solid starter for several years, and put Seattle in position to draft their future QB in 2012 or 2013. If he isn’t an option, look for Carroll to open up competition at the QB position. Names such as Young and Leinart could join Whitehurst and a draft pick in competition to lead the offense in the coming season.
Fans should brace for Hasselbeck wearing different colors next season. If Locker is available at pick 25 I’d expect Carroll to give him an opportunity to show he can be an NFL QB. If Locker is gone, Mallett could be the next-best option in round two.
Seattle may very well be looking at stop-gap efforts to fill the QB position in the 2011 season; it could be a rocky one for the Seahawks. Carroll and Schneider will continue their roster overhaul, but a step-back this year may be necessary to set the team up for long term success. The QB position looks to be a manifestation of this approach.