Seahawks on the Horn: Why Joe Just Makes Sense for Seattle

Bill DowSenior Analyst IAugust 19, 2008

Over the course of the last sixth offseason months, the Seattle Seahawks have lost two prominent wide receivers necessary to their success through the air: veteran Bobby Engram and possible superstar Deion Branch.

Branch, who was traded in the beginning weeks of the 2006 season from the New England Patriots for a first round pick, has had minimal success in Seattle – gaining just under 1400 yards with eight touchdowns in two mediocre, fourth round-worthy seasons. When he wasn’t catching balls, he was on the sidelines, for a whopping 11 of the 36 regular season games.

Engram, who recently returned to prominence after hauling in 94 receptions for 1147 yards as a 34-year old, too, has had his bouts with injury. Not only did he suffer from Grave’s Disease a year before which sidelined him for the majority of the year, but he is also becoming more-and-more fragile as a result of his age.

With these two players off the roster for at least the first game of the season (many predict the first month), the Seahawks are in a bind. Although they have a collection of young standouts, including indispensible players Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu, but unproven guys like Michael Bumpus, an undrafted rookie out of Washington State who has made fantastic catches (and hasn’t dropped any) this preseason.

The Seahawks, unable to put their stars on the Physically Unable to Perform list (P.U.P List) because it would sideline them for longer than they needed to be, are forced to carry the injured players on their 53-man roster for the first game of the year in Buffalo. They lack talent, experience, and leadership, as although the tenured Nate Burleson could be a starter, the young guys simply cannot.

Which begs the question: what are the ‘Hawks to do to remedy such an issue. They seem content in leaving it be, but do they really want to line Taylor against Terrance McGee, or Obomanu against Nate Clements at home?

The depth, at this pre-cut point in the preseason, is bleak at wide receiver. On the market are former Bengal Chris Henry, who doesn’t meet Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell’s mold of a character guy off the field, or at least doesn’t after his multiple arrests this past year. The best players that do: former Buffalo Bill Peerless Price and Titan Eric Moulds.

But now, thanks to Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s tiredness of Horn’s recent struggles with injury and his lack of future potential (remember: Blank signed Horn to catch with Vick, not to catch with Redman/Ryan), he is now a free agent and on-the-market for all, leaving those with receiver struggles, like the Seahawks, in contention of getting a solid slot guy who will haul in balls. He doesn’t have the speed, but he is a solid number three or four guy.

Horn, although he likely isn’t the flanker guy the ‘Hawks want opposite Burleson early in the year, could easily put more pressure in the middle than say, Logan Payne could. Have his track record will divert attention from somebody like Taylor out-wide and toward the middle of the field, which is something the team would love to exploit earlier in the year.

He fits an Engram mold, and although it is unlikely that he grab 94 balls this year, he could add one extra element to an already talented group of ball-catchers. Horn would give the Seahawks an out in the early-season before their stars are bright, and could be injury protection later on in the year.

The one thing he has against him, though, is his star-power. Horn has always been outspoken character in the league. He isn’t as bad as Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson, but stunts like the cell phone celebration won’t bode well with the Seahawks Way, as they self-centrically refer to themselves in television commercials. But, as many say, one bad apple on a team can be hidden in the team bushel. And who’s to say Horn’s apple is rotten and not just bright, anyway?

As Ryan Alberti would say, “All I’m Saying is…” the Seahawks and Joe Horn would be a nice fit. He would provide the needed push to get the air game on its feet while Branch and Engram are out, and would provide depth later on in the year as the guys came back. He’s not a star, but he is a reliable veteran with a solid punch that could scare defenses. And if the Seahawks grabbed him and he didn’t make the team or was cut mid-season, chances are the cap hit would be minimal, if any.

Horn has already reached out to the Titans who were shafted last season by Eric Moulds who turned out being a  342-yard, 32-reception flop. His motivation for contacting the teams is most likely the possibility of a starting job. Very few other NFL teams could entice a free agent like Tennessee could in that regard, as the Titans’ top receiver is none other than former Bear backup Justin Gage. Horn, although he could help the team make it to the postseason, won’t have the possibility of anything more than a first-round exit in the Music City, unlike in Seattle or New York (Jets) where reports have said interest has been garnered.  

It makes sense, for the short run, or for the rest of Holmgren’s Seahawk career.