Forget 4-12: Seattle Seahawks Have Turned Luck Around

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIMay 1, 2009

SEATTLE - DECEMBER 11:  LeRoy Hill #56 of the Seattle Seahawks stands on the field during the game with the San Francisco 49ers on December 11, 2005 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won 41-3. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

During the 2008 season, just about everything that could go wrong for the Seahawks did. Since then, just about everything has gone right.

The latest stroke of luck was being able to re-sign linebacker Leroy Hill, even after the Seahawks removed the franchise tag from him last weekend.

The deal—reportedly for six years and $38 million—means the Seahawks will have a stud trio of linebackers, perhaps through 2014. Lofa Tatupu is entering the second year of an eight-year deal, and rookie Aaron Curry is expected to sign a six-year deal as well.

The linebacker position has been on quite a roller-coaster ride this offseason. The Seahawks put the franchise tag on Hill on Feb. 19, and it looked like the Seahawks would keep the band of 'backers—Hill, Tatupu, and Julian Peterson—who had played together for the past three seasons.

But then Seattle traded Peterson to Detroit on March 14, and all of a sudden the position looked pretty precarious, with Hill still unsigned.

Things looked up again last weekend, when the Seahawks were fortunate enough to find Curry available at No. 4 in the draft. Then the team turned around and rescinded the franchise tag, making Hill a free agent eligible to sign with any team.

When they pulled the tag off Hill, coach Jim Mora and president Tim Ruskell expressed confidence that they still might be able to sign him.

They reasoned that the $8.3 million franchise tender had been a detriment to negotiations, and they were concerned that Hill, who was not under contract, was missing valuable time to learn Mora's defense this offseason.

It seemed likely that a handful of teams would have jumped at the chance to sign Hill, who immediately became the best free agent available. But either no one pursued him or he simply didn't want to play for anyone else.

Mora said Hill had been "a little shook up and maybe disappointed" to hear Sunday that the Seahawks had taken away the guaranteed $8.3 million tender. However, Mora said, "He's very motivated to be a Seattle Seahawk. He told me this morning that this is where he wants to finish his career."

And then Thursday morning, Mora predicted that Hill would re-sign by no later than Friday and be present for the weekend minicamp. A few hours later, it was done, and Hill was on his way back to Seattle.

Hill reportedly turned down a six-year, $36 million deal early in the offseason. This deal is worth just $2 million more, but the snag was probably the guaranteed money and the question of whether he might have to return any of it if he is suspended at some point for his recent arrest on charges of marijuana possession. The Seahawks reportedly included a stipulation that they would not try to reclaim bonus money if Hill is suspended.

With that, the Seahawks once again achieved the improbable this offseason.

Two months ago, if someone had said the Seahawks would get steady veteran receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency, acquire the best player in the draft, and keep Hill even after taking away the franchise tender, no one would have believed it.

Those lucky strikes are almost enough to make you forget the Seahawks' miserable 4-12 record last season.

Add to that the signing of space-eating, 330-pound defensive tackle Colin Cole in the first weekend of free agency, the re-signing of key right-side lineman Ray Willis, and the return of cornerback Ken Lucas, and the Seahawks sure seem poised to take back the division title they had owned for four straight years until Arizona won it last season.

Are the Seattle Mariners an April mirage? Go Outside The Press Box to find out.