NFL Free Agency: Seattle Seahawks Poised to Pluck Kevin Kolb or Re-Sign Matt Hasselbeck

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NFL Free Agency: Seattle Seahawks Poised to Pluck Kevin Kolb or Re-Sign Matt Hasselbeck
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Seahawks might not have run their draft the way most of us would have, but one thing they did right was not pick a quarterback from this very questionable class.

As we predicted before the draft, they have other plans, and general manager John Schneider told reporters exactly that Saturday: “We had a plan going in, and we still have our plan. We just can’t execute that plan right now.”

If the lockout is lifted by court order early this week, they could be able to execute their plan very soon.

It surely starts with trying to procure Kevin Kolb from Philadelphia. Plan B is re-signing Matt Hasselbeck (even if Trent Dilfer apparently doesn’t think that will happen), and Plan C could be trading for Carson Palmer or Kyle Orton.

The Seahawks figure to be in competition with as many as seven teams as they try to secure a starting quarterback. Arizona and Washington need starters, deciding after one year that Derek Anderson and Donovan McNabb, respectively, were not their guys.

McNabb appears likely bound for Minnesota, which would take the Vikings off the list of competitors. Like Tennessee and Cincinnati, the Vikings drafted a quarterback but want to sign a veteran to start for now. Also, Miami and Buffalo might look to upgrade over Chad Henne and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

What would you give up for Kevin Kolb?

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Arizona is thought to be Seattle’s top competition for both Kolb and Hasselbeck, although Miami could be in the mix. Washington might jump into the Kolb sweepstakes, while Tennessee might look at Hasselbeck as a bridge to Jake Locker. Cincinnati and Buffalo don’t seem like they will pursue a trade for Kolb or signing Hasselbeck.

So what will it take to get Kolb? And what should the Seahawks be willing to give up for him?

It starts with a first-rounder, and it’s just a matter of who adds the higher pick beyond that.

Before the lockout, the Hawks reportedly had offered the 25th overall pick to the Eagles for Kolb, which would have been a better way to spend it than the way they did (reaching for a right tackle). But trades involving veteran players were not allowed in this draft.

Now, the Hawks will be dealing with 2012 draft currency, and they probably will be bidding against Arizona (the same team they wrangled with in contract negotiations with Charlie Whitehurst last year). The Cardinals are in an even worse spot than the Seahawks, with no viable veteran starter. The Hawks at least could fall back on Whitehurst if they had to.

Some fans argue that the Hawks should not give up their 2012 first-rounder because they might have a shot at Stanford stud Andrew Luck. That’s preposterous, of course. No team should ever go into a year hoping they suck so bad that they are in position to get the top pick in the draft.

Short of tanking a season to get there, like the San Antonio Spurs did to get Tim Duncan in 1997, there’s no way to know if you’ll end up with that pick. Better to use it now if you think you can get a guy who is worth it.

Of course, some people don’t think Kolb is worth it, because he has started only seven games over the last two seasons and has had mixed results.

But he also has not been given the reins completely. They were yanked from him last year, as the Eagles went to Michael Vick after Kolb was knocked out of the opener. Kolb had mixed success in four October games when Vick was hurt, but in limited time he certainly has shown he has the makings to be the next Matt Schaub—top-flight backup turned franchise QB.

Kolb would step right into new Seattle coordinator Darrell Bevell’s offense, which is a carbon copy of the offense Kolb learned from Eagles coach Andy Reid. As coach Pete Carroll said, a veteran QB out of Reid’s system is better than any rookie.

Ten years ago, Mike Holmgren took a chance on Hasselbeck, who had never started a game. So why not take a chance on Kolb, who does have some experience, if the price is right?

Of course, even if the Hawks come to trade terms with the Eagles, they will have to come to contract terms with Kolb. Like Hasselbeck, Kolb will want a deal worth $8 million a year. That’s not out of line; the average salary-cap figure for starting QBs in 2009 was $8.6 million. The Seahawks would be more likely to give that kind of money to a young QB who might be around for 10 years as opposed to one who is toward the end of his career.

Which quarterback would you rather have?

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If the Hawks can’t consummate a deal for Kolb, they will need to look at bringing back Hasselbeck. They actually will need to be working both angles at once, because once free agency opens, it will be hectic.

The multimillion-dollar question is, what will the financial market be for the 35-year-old QB? We have said previously that he is worth $6 million a year (with incentives that could pay him among the top five), but he reportedly wants to be paid more than the $7 million the older Kerry Collins averaged the last couple of seasons as a part-time starter for Tennessee.

If someone is willing to offer Hasselbeck $8 million a year and give him a three- or four-year deal, that’s where he’ll likely go. However, if other teams think like the Seahawks, he certainly would be more apt to return to Seattle under like offers.

A couple of weeks ago, Hasselbeck told the Boston Globe, “I’m definitely hopeful that I’ll be able to stay in Seattle. ... I think it’s sincere that they want me back. It’s just a matter of how badly.”

Translation: Will they pay me $8 million a year?

If they don’t get Kolb or Hasselbeck, the Hawks will be forced to look elsewhere.

Plenty of people have tried to tie Palmer, the disgruntled Bengals QB, to Seattle based on his USC connection to Carroll. But the 31-year-old is probably a distant third choice for the Hawks, who would have to surrender a fairly high draft pick (probably a second) to Cincinnati and pay Palmer even more than Kolb or Hasselbeck (he is scheduled to be paid $11.5 million in each of the next two seasons and $13 million in 2013).

Orton is a dark horse in this race, but he’s a guy the Hawks could consider if they miss out on both Kolb and Hasselbeck. He also would be cheaper.

Orton, 28, had a great 2010 season and really has been good for three straight years (in two offensive systems), so the five-year veteran seems to have come into his own. As misguided as it is, 2010 first-rounder Tim Tebow is obviously the Broncos’ choice at quarterback. The Broncos probably would give up Orton for a second-rounder, which the Hawks might have to consider if they are trumped in bidding wars for their top two choices.

 

A PICK AND A PLAYER?

Some would suggest that the Hawks add a player to the Kolb deal rather than a pick. They don’t have many players with value or many they can afford to trade, but they might consider sending Marcus Trufant away or dealing one of their three starting linebackers.

Trufant has not played well the last two seasons, but he is still capable of it and would be able to step right in opposite Asante Samuel for the Eagles. Of course, they probably would still want Seattle’s 2012 first-rounder as well.

The Seahawks might have been setting themselves up to get rid of Trufant when they drafted three defensive backs Saturday. The Hawks still have second-year man Walter Thurmond and third-year player Roy Lewis, and they could add a corner in free agency (they are unlikely to re-sign the feather-light Kelly Jennings) to offset trading Trufant.

The Eagles also need a middle linebacker, and the Seahawks have three who could play there. Lofa Tatupu is the nominal man in the middle, but he has struggled with injuries the past two seasons, and the Hawks might be willing to send him to Philly because David Hawthorne could then assume his more natural position. Of course, Tatupu’s value is not as high as it was three years ago, and the Eagles probably would still want a first-rounder rather than Tatupu and a second-rounder.

But they might go for a second if they got Hawthorne, who has led the Seahawks in tackles the last two years and has the best value among the players in this discussion. Or maybe the Eagles would send Kolb and a second for Hawthorne and a first.

The Hawks also could dangle Aaron Curry, who has had a rough transition under Jim Mora and Pete Carroll in his first two years. Maybe the Eagles would like to try him at middle linebacker.

The Hawks don’t have a lot of depth at linebacker, but they drafted promising K.J. Wright in the fourth round and nickel linebacker Malcolm Smith in the seventh, and they certainly could re-sign Will Herring to start outside.

If they want Kolb, they’re going to have to come up with the capital to pay for him. Maybe it’s a pick and a player.

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