Over the weekend, Leroy Hill was arrested for the third time in roughly three years.
Eric Williams at thenewstribune.com reports:
"According to a report provided by the Atlanta Police department, Hill was arrested for marijuana possession early Saturday morning after police dogs confirmed the smell of an illegal substance emanating from his apartment while performing random floor checks."
It's hard to say how serious the Seahawks were intending to pursue Hill during free agency next month, but it certainly has the potential to shake things up.
For today the implications of this arrest for the 'Hawks are three-fold:
1. Hill is essentially done in Seattle.
2. David Hawthorne gains a ton of leverage at the bargaining table in his contract negotiations.
3. The Seahawks will probably need to give serious consideration to finding a linebacker in the early stages of the April Draft.
In looking at each a little more closely we can see that...
1. For Hill, the old baseball analogy, "Three strikes and you're out!" would probably sum up where he stands in the mind of head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider right now.
Although Hill pieced together a solid season last year, bringing him back could send the wrong message on a young team, especially for a defense still trying to form an identity.
With Hill likely gone, should the 'Hawks resign Hawthorne?
2. With Hill out of the picture, David Hawthorne just became a lot richer. With second year man KJ Wright the only starting linebacker under contract, Hawthorne has the chance to cash in if he plays his cards right. Generally speaking the linebacking corp wasn't the greatest last year, and while Hawthorne has proven himself a solid contributor through time, it would be difficult to see him as an essential piece of the puzzle long-term.
Yet leaving KJ Wright alone to fend for himself with two new starters (potentially both rookies) next season would be a glaring weak spot on an already young and talented defense.
While it is certainly possible the 'Hawks will look at ILB Free Agents next month if Hawthorne gets too expensive, the list of players available is a mixed bag of good, bad, and likely just as expensive if you want to upgrade with someone like Detroit's Stephen Tulloch.
Ultimately it would seem more plausible for the braintrust of Pete Carroll and John Schneider to save money and look to the draft to for help.
3. Which leads us to the final point in how the Seahawks will now need to draft at least one linebacker within the first 3-4 rounds of the draft. Prior to Hill's arrest, I proposed the 'Hawks find a linebacker in both mock drafts I posted (Mock 1.0 & Mock 2.0) and would expect to see a greater emphasis on this moving forward from myself and others whether Hawthorne signs with the 'Hawks or not.
One can only wonder if Pete and John kept a close watch and perhaps spoke to some of the linebackers listed here this past weekend?
Time will tell, but with Leroy Hill likely gone, chances are looking good at the moment that the 'Hawks linebacking corp will have a few new faces in 2012.