About a month ago, when it seemed entirely plausible that the NFL lockout would stretch into the autumn months, I put together a list of Seattle Seahawks who stood to benefit from an extended work stoppage.
Now that a resolution to the league's labor disputes is reportedly right around the corner, members of the 'Hawks who appreciated and hated the extra time off are gearing up to go back to work. For some, the end of the lockout represents the uncertainty of free agency, the threat of being traded any given day or the dread of grueling practices under the hot sun. For others, it means nothing more than a return to the regular NFL offseason routine.
And then there's a third group of players, for which organized team activities and training camp are cause for celebration, something they've been looking forward to all summer. Here are five Seahawks players (and one coach) who benefit from the end of the lockout:
After months of educated and uneducated guesses, confirmed and unconfirmed rumors and best-case and worst-case scenarios—not only from fans and media, but also from himself and within his circle—Hasselbeck can finally get some answers regarding his professional future as soon as the lockout is over.
Is the 35-year-old free agent going to re-sign with Seattle, or end up with another team? Will he compete for a starting job, or be asked to backup and mentor a younger quarterback? How many teams really want him, and does that list include the franchise for which he already owns a handful of passing records?
Every one of the Seahawks' free agents is in a position similar to Hasselbeck, but his situation is a little different: Because he's the Pro Bowl QB, the spotlight is brighter. Plus, Hasselbeck's age and injuries make this one of the most complicated decisions the Seahawks will have to make before next season.
No matter the outcome, Hasselbeck surely would just like to know his status rather than sit in lockout limbo.
Curry doesn't need anybody on the Seahawks' payroll to supervise his offseason workouts. Sculpting the 6'2", 255-pound frame that racked up 73 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season hasn't been a problem.
What the third-year linebacker needs to become the star Seattle envisioned when they drafted Curry fourth overall in '09 is all the time he can to pick up the nuances of his position that linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. and defensive coordinator Casey Bradley can teach him. Curry has been good so far, but relying on his natural talents have so far left him far from great.
The end of the NFL lockout means the Seahawks can resume their efforts to unlock the beast under that No. 59 jersey.
The Seahawks are looking for a playmaking speed receiver to line up across from No. 1 target Mike Williams, and Tate is in the running.
Returning vets Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler have the edge in experience and polish, but the second-year pro Tate (21 catches, 227 yards last season) can move up the depth chart by showing the coaching staff that he's worked on his game and by developing a solid chemistry with Seattle's quarterback—whoever that will be.
On the defensive side of the ball, Sherman has the best chance of any Seahawks rookie to crack the starting lineup. But every day that he is prohibited from working with Seattle's coaching staff and practice against NFL receivers hurts his case.
Sherman has the size (6'3", 195 pounds), athleticism (track and field letter winner at Stanford) and raw skills to vie for a major role in his first pro season, but he has to overcome a lack of experience. He played wide receiver his first three years in college—meaning he's still learning the cornerback position in general, on top of having to cram for his NFL entrance exam.
The quarterbacks get all the attention (naturally) and sympathy, but remember that the centers—designated signal-caller of the offensive line—have just as much to learn about new teammates and new offensive game plans.
Unger is the favorite to win Seattle's starting center job for next season after missing all but one game last season with a toe injury. Once he's allowed to convene with his team, Unger will be working with a new offensive line coach in Tom Cable, a new offensive coordinator in Darrell Bevell and a remixed O-line that includes two rookies: tackle James Carpenter and guard John Moffitt.
The sooner that Unger can begin soaking in all this information, the better.
This is why some NFL head coaches are perfectly OK with being "only" the coach.
As the coach and executive vice president of the Seahawks (i.e. he cooks the meal and buys the groceries), Carroll is going to have more on his plate than anyone in the organization. And thanks to the lockout, now he has a shorter time in which to do it. Trades, free agents, depth charts, evaluations, playbooks, game plans, managing egos, building trust and team chemistry ... all his responsibility.
You know what it's like when your boss hands you three hours worth of work and one hour to finish? That will be Carroll's life for the next month or so. It could be Week 2 of the regular season before Carroll even begins to feel like he's caught up.