Seattle Seahawks Fixing Offense With Ex-Pats and Broncos?

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIMarch 7, 2010

While the controversial Brandon Marshall meet-and-greet has duly drawn the most attention this weekend, it’s nice to see the Seahawks are on the lookout for other upgrades as well.


It was somewhat surprising, however, that Aaron Kampman was not among the dozen or so players Seattle has talked to already. Coming off a torn ACL suffered in November, Kampman’s value is not as high as it would have been last year at this time.


But it’s high enough that Jacksonville reportedly has offered Kampman enough money for him to agree to sign with the Jaguars .  So scratch the idea of the Hawks adding an impact pass rusher in free agency.


They are definitely looking at upgrading their passing game, though. Marshall would be the obvious improvement, but it’s very intriguing (and encouraging) that the Hawks are interested in former New England tight ends Ben Watson and Chris Baker.


Seattle’s desire to check them out meshes with our thought that the Hawks should use more double-tight-end passing combinations in their new offense.


The Seahawks have an ace tight end in John Carlson. In just two seasons, Carlson has already established the two highest reception totals by a tight end in team history.


He broke the record with 55 catches as a rookie and had 51 in what was considered a disappointing 2009 season.


New Seattle offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates surely will make better use of Carlson in 2010, and it looks like the Hawks might want a second guy who can catch as well as block.


Right now, the No. 2 tight end is blocking specialist John Owens, but Watson and Baker, who both were underused by the Patriots, would be upgrades over Owens or second-year project Cameron Morrah.


A first-round pick by New England in 2004, the 29-year-old Watson has put up decent numbers in his six seasons, but he apparently no longer fits the Patriots’ offense. His best year was 2006, when he caught 49 passes for 643 yards.


Last season, he caught only 29 passes, but he scored five touchdowns and averaged 13.9 yards per reception (second best in his career). He’s in his prime and would be a great addition to the Hawks’ offense, both as a blocker and receiver.


Baker, 30, was a surprising cut last week, released by the Patriots after just one season of a five-year contract.


The eight-year veteran has never been a big receiving threat (he caught only 14 balls last season), but he’s a good all-around tight end who would be a definite upgrade behind Carlson.


Baker has averaged just under 20 catches per season, with his best year coming in 2007, when he caught 41 for 409 yards for the New York Jets.  If signed, Baker would probably be the Hawks’ best blocking tight end.


The Hawks’ interest in Watson and Baker jells with our previous comments that Denver tight end Tony Scheffler would fit the Hawks’ offense.


Scheffler is a restricted free agent tendered at the second round, while Watson and Baker wouldn’t cost anything in draft picks. Watson will be in Seattle on Monday, and the Hawks should try to get him signed (four years, $14 million?).


Watson doesn’t seem to have a lot of suitors yet, while Baker already has drawn the attention of Cincinnati and Miami.


Also reportedly coming Monday is running back Mike Bell, who ran for 677 yards and eight touchdowns for Denver in 2006, when Bates was an offensive assistant for the Broncos. So Bell knows Bates’ offense.


Bell, a four-year veteran, ran for 654 yards and five scores for New Orleans last season. He also reportedly has attracted interest from Cleveland and Philadelphia.


As expected, the Seahawks also are interested in former Bronco guard Ben Hamilton. Already knowing Bates’ offense, he could come in and compete immediately for a starting job on a line that was one of the worst in the league in 2009.


Although they didn’t get into the Kampman sweepstakes, the Seahawks have started looking at defensive linemen, with Dwan Edwards having visited Friday and Tyler Brayton due in Monday.


The Seahawks’ also are looking to improve their secondary, with journeyman Will James reportedly coming to visit Thursday. The Seahawks need a third corner.


More than that, though, the Hawks need help at safety, and they would be smart to contact the agent for O.J. Atogwe, a restricted free agent who would require no draft pick to sign . Of course, it’s early, and they still might be planning to pursue Atogwe.


Here are some one-line scouting reports on the players the Seahawks are bringing in or have otherwise been linked to in the first couple of days of free agency.


TE Ben Watson: Excellent all-around tight end who should be the Hawks’ first signing of 2010.


TE Chris Baker: A close second behind Watson, Baker would make a nice complement to Carlson as well.


RB Mike Bell: A prototypical committee back, Bell is a younger version of Julius Jones and has a history with Bates.


DL Dwan Edwards: The 315-pounder played end in the Ravens' 3-4 defense but would be a tackle for the Hawks.


DE Tyler Brayton: The Washington native had 9.5 sacks in the last two years for Carolina and might be a decent rotational player in Seattle.


CB Will James: After spending his first five seasons with the New York Giants, James has bounced around from Philadelphia to Jacksonville to Detroit over the past four years.


OG Ben Hamilton: Hamilton, 32, was a solid starter for the Broncos when Bates was there and would be a good addition.


WR Arnaz Battle: The seven-year veteran had a couple of decent seasons for the 49ers (109 catches, 1,286 yards and eight touchdowns in 2006 and 2007), but he would be no better than a fourth receiver in Seattle if Marshall is acquired.


WR Kelley Washington: The six-year vet had a career-high 34 catches for Baltimore last season, which would make him a No. 4 candidate in Seattle.






Is Seneca Wallace worth a third-round pick to Mike Holmgren? That seems to be the question after word surfaced that Holmgren, now president of the Cleveland Browns, might be interested in trading for the quarterback he nurtured into Seattle’s backup.


Wallace has been a disappointment, proving time and again that he simply cannot win in relief (5-9 as a starter for Matt Hasselbeck since 2006). If the Seahawks could pull a third-round pick for him, it would be worth letting him go.


The Browns have an extra third-rounder, three extra fifths, and an extra sixth. If Holmgren didn’t want to flip the third for Wallace, the Hawks certainly could pull a fifth (and maybe Brady Quinn as a throw-in).


But the Hawks really want to find a third-round pick to replace the one they used to get Deon Butler in a draft-day trade last year.


If the Hawks dealt Wallace, they would need to find a backup quarterback for Hasselbeck. That could be Mike Teel, the 2009 sixth-round draft pick. Or it could be a veteran, such as Jake Delhomme, Mark Brunell or Marc Bulger (if he’s released).






Some people are concerned that a team might swoop in and sign left guard Rob Sims to an offer sheet. Our take: Great, we’ll take the fourth-rounder.


Sims is certainly no world beater. He could easily be replaced.


That’s why signing Hamilton would be a good move. And the Hawks also need to contact guys like Chester Pitts and Bobbie Williams.


Pitts is coming off microfracture knee surgery, but Miami and Detroit are interested in the former Houston Texan. Of course, new Seattle line coach Alex Gibbs coached Pitts in Houston, so if the Hawks don’t show any interest in the eight-year vet, we’ll know why.



It would be nice to keep Sims so the Hawks have options, but getting a fourth-rounder for him wouldn’t be bad either.


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