It's that time of year again for the Seattle Seahawks and their fans. The playoff run has ended and the team is in its offseason mode. They have a lot of questions, a lot of holes and the decisions they make this offseason will determine if they take the next step towards Super Bowl contender or slip down into the lowly ranks of the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills of the world.
At his year-end press conference Wednesday, coach Pete Carroll said that re-signing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was the "top priority in our program." This statement will surely fuel local sports radio and the blog-o-sphere for the coming months.
The merits of bringing Hasselbeck back are certainly debatable, but what isn't debatable is that the Seahawks absolutely need to draft a quarterback with their first round draft pick this year.
Carroll and general manager John Schneider are serious about rebuilding while contending as witnessed this past season. With that in mind, bringing back Hasselbeck makes sense, however, he is aging, injury-prone and more mistake-prone than he's ever been. A long-term solution to the quarterback position is needed.
Last season, the Seahawks gave up a surprisingly high draft pick and sum of money to bring in veteran third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst. Whitehurst was given a chance to compete with Hasselbeck in training camp and was soundly defeated and regulated to the backup role again.
In his limited game time this season Whitehurst failed to impress and while he might make a solid backup who can spot start, he is not the long term answer in Seattle.
The list of free agent quarterbacks hitting the market this offseason fail to impress as well. Alex Smith? Matt Leinart? Matt Moore? This is the quality of quarterbacks that are available and nobody is going to be planning their Super Bowl parade with the likes of these guys under center.
There has been talk that Kevin Kolb of the Eagles might be available since the emergence of Michael Vick this season. The Seahawks could try to trade for Kolb, but it will most likely cost a couple of first round picks. Seattle has too many holes to bring in Kolb without a team around him.
They need to draft a quarterback. They need to do it in the first round. This year's quarterback pool was weakened when Stanford's Andrew Luck opted to return to The Farm for one more year but there are still good prospects available.
The Seahawks will be drafting 25th and most projections would put Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett and maybe Cam Newton still on the board when they pick. All three of these players have potential, but probably aren't able to step in and start from day one.
Seattle won't need them to. Seattle struggled last year with their offensive line and on defense. All of their free agent money and later draft picks will need to go to helping put those pieces together. They will not want to throw a raw Jake Locker or Mallett out there without a solid running attack or defense.
They won't have to. By re-signing Hasselbeck, they will have a veteran quarterback who will be able to hold a young team together for a couple of seasons while the new quarterback learns the ropes. This then would allow them to transition to the younger guy in the next year or two. Hasselbeck could even stay on as a back up. There are worse backup options than a three time pro-bowler who has a wealth of playoff experience.
Drafting a quarterback is always a crap shoot and there are endless tales of draft day busts out there. One of the major sins of former general manager Tim Ruskell's reign is the lack of a young quarterback being developed. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have an opportunity to correct all that this year. They need to roll the dice and they need to do it now.