Seattle Seahawks: Race to the Hall of Fame for Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIFebruary 8, 2010

Who’s going to reach the Hall of Fame first Cortez Kennedy or Walter Jones?


If Jones was serious in declaring via Twitter yesterday his intent to retire, he figures to join one-time Seahawks Jerry Rice and John Randle in the Hall of Fame in five years.


Perhaps Kennedy will be there by then as well.


Rice, who ended his career in Seattle in 2004, and Randle, who played for the Hawks for three years earlier in the decade, were among seven elected to the Hall of Fame on Saturday. However, Kennedy, who spent his entire 11-year career in Seattle, was left out again.


Rice and Randle are among a handful of Hall of Famers who had a cup of coffee with the Seahawks. Rice is like Franco Harris and Carl Eller, guys who did not contribute much and were well past their prime by the time they joined the Seahawks.


Randle is like Warren Moon: Both went to the Pro Bowl in their first season in Seattle and then faded thereafter.


Of the five, Randle spent the most time with the Hawks. After 11 star-studded years in Minnesota, he came to Seattle in 2001 at age 33. He recorded 11 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl for the seventh time. He added 12 more sacks over the next two years and really was the best defensive linemen the Hawks had last decade.


Randle got into the Hall mainly because of his sack totals (137.5 in 14 years). Kennedy was a finalist for the second straight year, and he should make it in the next few years. It helps that two of the 44 Hall of Fame voters (John Clayton and Mike Sando) covered Kennedy and are lobbying for him.


While Kennedy is facing a bit of a wait, Jones surely won’t. He’ll be in five years after he retires (the minimum), and the clock may start pretty soon as Jones apparently wrote Sunday morning that he has decided to retire.


That will make new Coach Pete Carroll’s decision on Jones much easier. In an interview with KJR-AM on Thursday, Carroll mentioned that Jones’ situation needs to be addressed.


“I talked to Walter and he’s doing everything he can, and we’ll see in time where he stands,” Carroll said Thursday, before Jones made his retirement comment on Twitter.


“But that’s an issue. And there’s a little bit of a ripple effect, moving guys around to fill that left tackle spot. It’s a skill position in the NFL, and one that’s really critical. So we have to see what we can do there.”


So it seems Carroll is in agreement that left tackle is a major need in the upcoming draft. The fact that Alex Gibbs has two assistants helping him with the line is further evidence that Carroll and company already know their biggest weakness.


Among the other personnel needs are a pass rusher, a safety and a running back, and rumors have already sprung up that Carroll might want to bring Reggie Bush, his former star USC tailback, to Seattle.


Two problems with that: (1) Bush is under contract to the Saints and (2) he is far too injury prone.


But if Bush won’t take a pay cut from the $8 million salary he is scheduled to be paid in 2010, the Saints might be forced to cut him.


If Carroll is smart – and he had better be – he’ll realize that Bush is just not durable enough to count on. He has missed 12 games with knee problems the past three seasons, and the Seahawks have had far too many injury issues to invest in a guy with that kind of injury history.


If you believe new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, the Hawks don’t need to make any moves at running back.


In an interview with KJR last week, he said the Hawks were in “great shape” at running back with Julius Jones and Justin Forsett.


“Jones is a zone runner. He’s got that body,” Bates said. “It’s four yards, four yards, four yards. That’s what we’re going to preach. And with Justin Forsett, we’ve got a good 1-2 punch.”


Of course, that doesn’t preclude the Hawks from making a change or adding another back through free agency of the draft.


But there’s no reason to chase Trojans past.


Besides, the Seahawks have enough former USC guys on their coaching staff as Carroll brought in eight guys who were with him at USC. The staff also has a big Denver connection, with Gibbs, Bates, Quarterbacks Coach Jedd Fisch and Tight-End Coach Pat McPherson all having worked for the Broncos.


Carroll also pulled a couple of guys off Jim Zorn’s old Washington staff, bringing back former Seattle running back Sherman Smith and adding Jerry Gray to coach the secondary.


With Gibbs, Bates, Fisch, McPherson and Smith, the offensive staff is full of West Coast disciples, and that bodes well for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and the rest. This crew certainly can’t do any worse than Greg Knapp and company did in 2009.


Bates made it clear that fixing the offensive line was the key to this offense.


“Our biggest hire was Alex Gibbs, the godfather of the O-line,” Bates said on KJR. “It all starts with the O-line. That’s the foundation of this team. It’s all about the offensive line.”


And that's even if Walter Jones has indeed decided to start his official countdown to Canton.