CNN-SI journalist Peter King revealed early last Wednesday morning via Twitter he does not believe Matt Hasselbeck will be returning to Seattle next season.
The fact that offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell called Hasselbeck to express the team’s interest during the one day of lockout lifted business is a clear sign that as of draft weekend, Hasselbeck was still in play; a recent twist to the offseason saga line being he played a primary role in helping facilitate disciplined unofficial workouts at the University of Washington less than two weeks ago.
Despite those facts, King believes the opening day quarterback for Seattle may be Charlie Whitehurst, but most likely not Hasselbeck; Arizona, Tennessee, Miami and Minnesota listed as his top four to sign Hasselbeck.
Interestingly enough, the tweets came shortly after he attended a U2 concert in Seattle and spent some time with Seahawks GM John Schneider and Schneider’s father to celebrate the second year GM’s 40th birthday.
King is one of the most connected and respected journalists in the industry, as evidenced by his rendezvous with Schneider; the opinion King revealed on Twitter last week is consistent with his previous thoughts that Hasselbeck and the team will split ways, thus implying the meeting and tweets could merely be a coincidence.
Beyond the tweet, King revealed during a ESPN 710 radio interview that his opinion about Hasselbeck originated after the team failed to re-sign him before the lockout. King also cited a lack of connection prior to 2010 being a reason the team may be willing to move forward. But he admitted, “is that 100 percent? No.”
Given King’s recent visit with Schneider, the tweets grabbed the attention of those interested in where Hasselbeck will be next season and for good reason. However, King didn’t “report” anything; he divulged his opinion on Twitter and re-stated his thoughts via the interview.
On April 17 we learned Hasselbeck wants to return to Seattle, but it depended on how badly Seattle wanted the veteran to return; on May 18 Hasselbeck stated nothing had changed for him on the contract front—is it possible the Seahawks and Hasselbeck may have been making 11th hour progress in contract talks before the collective bargaining agreement expired?
Other than the initial decline of the Seahawks contract offer, Hasselbeck hasn’t appeared to be in favor of being anywhere other than Seattle. In this Seattle PI article from April 19, Hasselbeck revealed the following; he simply believes the two sides ran out of time, his family is strongly in favor of staying in Seattle—“the decision will be made more on what’s good for the kids, what's good for my wife”—and he wants a two-year deal.
During the ESPN 710 interview, King offered he doesn’t know how much Hasselbeck turned down; but theorized that if he turned down $7 million a year, “it’s ridiculous.” Radio co-host Brock Huard offered the one-year contract length was the issue.
Did King already know that information and more, but off the record?
Maybe Schneider told King the organization is willing to offer a two-year deal, but with the same amount of guaranteed money that was offered in the one-year deal. If they did, in fact, run out of time, maybe the framework for a two-year deal with incentives to up the value closer to Hasselbeck’s desired level was being drafted.
The ideal scenario, if the team wants him back, is a deal that fairly rewards Hasselbeck if he indeed proves to have gas left in the tank, but doesn’t bind Seattle into paying him starting quarterback guaranteed money for more than one year.
There is no way to know if a 40th birthday celebration at a U2 concert led to Schneider divulging a crucial piece of the organization’s offseason plan, or if King is simply basing his opinion from his previous comments and no new information from Schneider.
In my opinion, Schneider has remained somewhat vague and cagey during his offseason comments regarding the quarterback situation. When asked about preferred quarterback attributes during the pre-draft presser, Schneider responded saying competitively, “it’s just not right” to give that information; he also declined to divulge where “chunks” of talent were available in the draft.
The Seahawks believe in maintaining a competitive advantage in their day to day operations, and Schneider has publicly shown this offseason he is intent on upholding that principal.
And as shown by the draft, the organization is willing to make personnel moves that go against the grain of some of the media’s most respected names—King forecasted Marvin Austin to the Seahawks at No. 25 in the 2011 draft and a portion of the mainstream media ripped the Seahawks 2011 draft approach, notably ESPN’s Trent Dilfer.
As noted above, King is not “100 percent” on that the Seahawks will not re-sign Hasselbeck; he actually noted a “shotgun wedding” type scenario could become possible; where neither is the other party’s first choice, but the team doesn’t have a better option and Hasselbeck didn’t receive any more favorable offers; if Seattle’s attempt to sign or trade for someone else fails, they may have to give him a guaranteed second year.
In my opinion, King’s tweets further fortify his stance on the Seattle quarterback situation; we have no way of knowing if the tweets were based on founded evidence or are just coincidental.
Given the organizations competitive nature, presumably they want to prevent Hasselbeck’s price from being driven up as much as they can if they do want to re-sign him; fully publicizing their need for his return could do just that—King sure didn’t leave the impression the Seahawks were gung ho about re-signing Hasselbeck.
In the days prior, Hasselbeck led the team in seven-on-seven drills, helped distribute a position specific workout regimen, showed an understanding of the new playbook and according to Mike Williams during post-workout interviews, Hasselbeck was able to make throws he could not make last season.
Was King merely trying to re-kindle the speculation by re-opening the conversation, at what would appear to be an ideal time given the gathering at the concert?
As we have no definitive answer as to why King tweeted what he did, I’ll offer this: Did John Schneider feel the Seahawks lost part of their competitive advantage in re-signing Hasselbeck due to the value he showed at the workouts?
Maybe, maybe not; But if the Seahawks really do want to re-sign Hasselbeck, the competitive John Schneider would be hard pressed to give himself a better 40th birthday present than re-gaining the competitive advantage in the Hasselbeck situation; giving a chunk of the NFL world the impression the Seahawks don’t want their “top priority” back in 2011.