As expected, the Seahawks are starting to make some moves.
Two days after signing tight end Chris Baker, the Seahawks cut starting safety Deon Grant, signed reserve receiver Ruvell Martin, signed defensive end Darryl Tapp to his tender and released short-lived long snapper Matt Overton.
The Baker signing was made public over the weekend and gives the Hawks some great depth at tight end, with Baker joining stud starter John Carlson, blocking specialist John Owens, and young Cameron Morrah.
Martin, meanwhile, adds some depth to the Hawks’ shallow receiving corps, which otherwise is comprised of T.J. Houshmandazdeh, Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu, and, for now, Deion Branch.
Martin was Green Bay’s No. 4-5 receiver from 2006 to 2008, when the 6-4 target converted 40 of his 52 receptions into first downs.
With offseason workouts about to begin and Tapp figuring to play a key role in Pete Carroll’s defense, Tapp apparently was satisfied enough to sign his $1.176 million tender.
Overton’s release leaves CFL vet Patrick MacDonald as the team’s lone long snapper, although that certainly doesn’t mean he’ll have the job when the season begins.
In other reports from Monday, the Hawks will host running back Quinton Ganther on Wednesday. He was Washington’s third-string running back last season, when he was coached by Sherman Smith, who is now in Seattle.
Also, the Seahawks were still waiting to hear from quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, who reportedly was leaning toward signing with Arizona. He was expected to decide today between offers from the Cardinals and Seahawks.
Derek Anderson is the fallback option for both Seattle and Arizona, but the Cardinals could be interested in signing both.
That could create an interesting situation if the Cardinals then released former first-round pick Matt Leinart. It would be easy to see the Hawks swooping in to pick up Carroll’s former Heisman winner at USC.
Meanwhile, the release of Grant and his $4 million salary leaves a big hole in an already weak secondary, and the question becomes: How are the Hawks going to fill it?
Unless the Seahawks are ready to sign a safety now, the release of Grant now is curious. There is no salary cap, so they don’t need to clear any space to sign anyone. So either they already have a safety in mind or else they just didn’t want Grant participating in their offseason program.
They could be simply waiting for the draft, where they might have a shot at Tennessee standout Eric Berry with the sixth pick overall or another safety later on.
But this also could mean the Hawks are ready to make a run at St. Louis safety O.J. Atogwe or another restricted free agent, such as Green Bay’s Atari Bigby, Baltimore’s Dawan Landry, or Indianapolis’ Melvin Bullitt.
Atogwe would be the easiest guy to acquire because he would not cost a draft pick if the Rams declined to match an offer sheet.
With Grant getting his walking papers, it makes us wonder why Deion Branch and Patrick Kerney have not been released as well. They both have higher salaries than Grant and have been even less effective over the past two years (longer in Branch’s case); they surely will not return at over $5 million each.
Perhaps the Hawks think Branch and Kerney fit their systems.
Or perhaps they are waiting to see if they can trade either one.
Or maybe they don’t want to cut them until they have replacements lined up.
Whatever the reason, it’s a good bet neither will be on the team after the draft next month.
Speaking of the draft, the Seahawks are likely to receive one seventh-round draft choice as compensation for free agents lost in 2009, according to the recently published projections of comp-pick guru AdamJT13.
The Seahawks added three players (T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Colin Cole, and Owens) and lost five (Rocky Bernard, Maurice Morris, Leonard Weaver, Bobby Engram, and Floyd Womack).
That led us to think the Hawks would get two seventh-rounders, but AdamJT13 says Engram might not count as a loss because Kansas City ended up cutting him during the season.
The comp picks will be announced at the owners meetings next week in Orlando.
At this point in this year's free agency, the Hawks are looking good for a potential fourth- or fifth-round comp pick in 2011.
They lost Nate Burleson on the first day of free agency as the receiver signed with Detroit for $5 million a year, and they have yet to sign a qualifying unrestricted free agent. Baker was released by the Patriots and Martin was an untendered restricted free agent, so neither counts under the comp rules.
Even if the Hawks end up with Whitehurst and/or Marshall, those two are restricted free agents who would likely be acquired in trade anyway.
PAY FOR PLAY: THE HEATER DOUBLES UP
While guys like Grant, Branch and Kerney are overpaid, a few Seahawks were underpaid in 2009.
The third-year linebacker is set to make $475,000 in 2010. But if Tatupu misses time in 2010, Hawthorne won’t be able to add to his take unless there is a new CBA and the performance-based pay returns.
His agent wants a new deal, but he’s Hawk property for at least the next two seasons, and Carroll must decide where Hawthorne fits.
The Hawks’ other top earners in the NFL’s “pay for play” program in 2009: OG/C Max Unger $197,000; RB Justin Forsett $188,000; DE Nick Reed $172,000; and S Lawyer Milloy $151,000.