The Seahawks went into free agency with a lot of money to spend and plenty of questions to address.
Which direction to go at quarterback, youth or experience at left guard, where do the priorities lie on defense and more.
So far, Seattle has made a strong effort in acquiring guys who raise the upside of the program but has also taken decent risks in making those moves.
Overall, it's been a week of big-splash signings and mostly players that will likely start full time in 2011.
Tarvaris Jackson, QB
Heading into free agency I explored the prospects of T-Jax to Seattle and why it made sense. Not as a sure-fire plan to find the quarterback of the future but rather to create a strong competition at the position.
Jackson signed for two years, $8 million, nearly the same price as Whitehurst.
Whitehurst had the job to open camp, but just a day later, Carroll named Jackson the starter. Whitehurst still needs to learn the system, so Jackson brings more continuity to the offense.
Whitehurst will get his chance to "compete" once he's learned the offense.
Jackson has good feet, a strong arm and potential. John Schneider believes Jackson can thrive in the positive environment created by Pete Carroll, as he mentioned on Seattle radio last Friday.
Schneider mentioned he has first hand experience with young quarterbacks getting "Favred" and understands it's a tough situation for a young player to encounter.
Seattle gave up no picks and top-dollar backup compensation for what appeared to be their No. 1 choice and current starter. A low to medium risk, high reward manner to move on from Matt Hasselbeck.
Sidney Rice, WR
If healthy, Rice brings everything to the table. Catching radius, leaping ability, ball skills, strong hands.
But, he's played only one full NFL season. A history of knee injuries before his breakout 2009 and micro-fracture hip surgery shortened his 2010.
As I noted last week, Seattle didn't need to make this strong of a move at a deep position for a player with injury concerns, but, I acknowledge this is type of go big or go home, championship move Carroll will inevitably make for Seattle.
Rice also has the flash to urge a fan base to see the upside of losing Hasselbeck.
The organization's aggression is commendable, but it's a bit disconcerting their new "franchise" receiver has shown his downside more than his upside during his career.
With all of their cap room, Seattle had the chance to make a major risk/reward signing—for five years—that could pay major dividends down the road.
Robert Gallery, OG
With the connections to Tom Cable and Cable's trust in Gallery, this signing was not unexpected. The fact that it was for three years and speculated to be for a non-premier price is a plus, and Seattle has given themseleves a leader up front.
Durability has been a question, his play suffering at times the past two years as a result. When healthy, he is a powerful blocker on the left side. If not able to stay healthy, his attitude and experience should still have a positive effect on the group as a whole.
Alan Branch, DL
A monster, space eating lineman with the versatility to play across the defensive line, the addition of Branch—with the re-signing of Mebane—is a big move for Seattle, no pun intended.
Carroll on Branch, “He’s a unique body type. He’s a monster of a guy (6'5", 330). It was really difficult to find that guy in the draft, (so) all from the draft on we’ve been looking for this guy to come to us, because we thought he had the ability to give us that dual role.”
I noted heading into last week the signings on the defensive line would begin to bring clarity toward what we can expect up front in 2011. The signings could give a hint toward potential wrinkles in an evolved defensive scheme.
More on this later.
Ryan Sims, DT
A top-10 pick in 2002 by Kansas City, he signed a four-year, $8 million extension after the 2008 season with Tampa. His stint starting in '07, and he was released after six games in 2010.
Sims looks the role of more depth at the nose or 5-tech, his experience with new defensive line coach Todd Wash likely contributed to the signing. Sims looks to be an experienced camp body, for now.
He's produced marginally in the past, but can he show enough to remain with the program into the season?
Note: this signing is yet to be officially confirmed by Seattle.
Brandon Coutu, K
Coutu was drafted by the Seahawks in the 2008. A premier college kicker, he was unable to beat out Olindo Mare for the job.
Now, Mare is gone, and Seattle needs a kicker. Coutu has a strong leg and converted 79 percent or more of his kicks in all three years with more than 10 field goal attempts at Georgia. A smart, cheap pickup by Seattle.
Overall Grade: B
Update: Seattle has since signed TE Zach Miller and DE Jimmy Wilkerson. These signings raise the grade to B+/A-.