4 Reasons the Seattle Seahawks Are Better off Without Matt Hasselbeck
There is no doubt some fans are thinking; what could have been with Matt?
A new offensive line, a bunch of weapons and an improved defense may have been the formula for Hasselbeck to succeed in Seattle.
Instead the organization chose the unknown, but not without reason.
The Quarterback Spot Has a Smaller Cap Number and Competition
The Seahawks ultimately came to the conclusion that it was worth moving on from Hasselbeck, finding a cheaper option and creating a competition at the position.
Signing Hasselbeck to a sizable, long term contract was not a move conducive to the competition philosophy.
Before the lockout, the Seahawks offered Hasselbeck a one year, seven million dollar offer; he declined.
Hasselbeck is making nine million this season alone, part of the three year deal he signed with Tennessee. Regardless of whether or not Seattle offered him a contract after the lockout, it appears terms truly were far apart.
They chose to invest eight million total in their top two quarterbacks for 2011. Seattle remained disciplined in their pursuit of the quarterback spot, as the organization said they would; they also proved to have a plan, as they stated after the draft.
And while there is no immediate competition for the quarterback spot, Carroll's is aimed at creating one down the road; we are still too early in camp to know what will happen going forward, but there is reason to believe they will follow through.
Seattle had a plan all along; signing Hasselbeck for three years simply wasn't a move that complemented their desired path.
Seattle Had Cap and Roster Flexibility, and They've Used It Well
One of the most enticing reasons to move on from Hasselbeck was the change would create full flexibility in revamping the roster.
As we have seen through free agency, Seattle felt the risk was worth the potential reward; it's hard to argue with the results.
Jackson may or may not be the quarterback of the future. However, the organization now has flexibility in addressing the position in the future; they are not tied to Whitehurst and Jackson is in Seattle for two years, as of now. Furthermore, undrafted rookie Josh Portis is a low impact project.
Whoever is at the helm in 2012 and beyond will presumably have two premier weapons to throw to in Sidney Rice and Zach Miller; not to mention a young, emerging offensive line in front of him, led by a hopefully healthy Robert Gallery--for at least a year or two.
On defense, Seattle used the money they didn't use on Hasselbeck to re-sign Brandon Mebane and rebuild the defensive line. They still have room to sign a veteran linebacker or safety if need be.
The organization felt they weren't ready to draft a plug and play quarterback--Andy Dalton-- and they weren't ready to plug and play an aging veteran either.
Instead they chose flexibility and are focused on creating a sound process, leading to the end result; either by flier in 2011 or via a big acquisition in the near future.
A Young, Athletic, Explosive Quarterback Fits the New Offense
The Seahawks proved in free agency that even though they are willing to spend big, they are spending big for younger, athletic players.
And while quarterback isn't necessarily associated with athleticism, explosiveness or even youth, teams will not shy away from acquiring players with that profile—especially if he is a quarterback to mold for the future.
I offered previously that if the goal is to "start the transition to a team that consistently moves the pocket and the quarterback, with the hope of creating a vertical passing attack to complement the running game, an aging Hasselbeck is not an ideal fit in their plan."
Matt Hasselbeck was not a mobile quarterback; savvy and capable of scrambling yes, but mobility is not a term often associated with him. One of the main pluses Schneider has associated with Jackson in describing his upside; quick feet.
Plus, both Jackson and Whitehurst are more capable at escaping the pressure that will be caused by the inevitable breakdowns of a young offensive line. Until the line gels, the quarterbacks may be more exposed than desired.
Which brings us to the potential for injuries, which have effected Hasselbeck's arm strength in recent seasons. Though he was apparently healthier this offseason, "big arm" is a term used to describe both Jackson and Whitehurst; they both are physically equipped to engineer the vertical passing game.
Hasselbeck did hold the advantage against youth, in terms of leadership. However, 13 games missed in the past three seasons certainly was a check against the leadership versus youth argument.
And it's not as if Seattle is taking a leap of faith with a quarterback in a new system; they found a player who has spent his entire career in this system.
Jackson offers youth, athleticism, a big arm, good feet, immediate comfort within Bevell's system and long term potential; most of those traits are not part of the package offered by Hasselbeck.
They Can Begin the Future...More Than Once
The Seahawks could have gone two directions at quarterback; continue the "transition" in place and roll with Matt Hasselbeck, or accept the results and begin the future.
The situation in Tennessee is different than in Seattle; the Titans have their guy for the future in Jake Locker, they just needed a veteran to usher the transition.
Locker is not ready to compete as a starter; Whitehurst learned last year and is on the verge of competing this year. Unless Hasselbeck signed a short-term deal and was forced to face a competition in the coming months, his presence would hinder Whitehurst.
As mentioned previously, Mike Williams believes Hasselbeck's offseason presence shortened Whitehursts' command. The Seahawks will have to live with the consequences of having Matt Hasselbeck lead offseason workouts, either way.
Obviously, Pete Carroll's "always compete" mantra isn't one conducive to building a losing organization; if they were to move on from Hasselbeck, presumably the new quarterback would give the team a chance to compete.
In acquiring Jackson, who has been "groomed" to be a starting quarterback in Bevell's system, Seattle is taking a "stab at stability."
Seattle smartly found a player who can gain trust from the players by commanding the huddle in this system; a player who wants to be a franchise quarterback.
And at the same time; instead of forcing Charlie Whitehurst to be the guy, they constructed a floor for the position to stand on. There is a good chance he will have to win a competition to be named starter.
Not many pundits initially believed Jackson was the answer for the future; but signing him was only the first part of the plan. As the signings have piled up and the organization has proven they are willing to compete, the Jackson signing has begun to gain a little luster.
But, the beauty of this move is that it gives Seattle the leeway to make a mistake; the moves made this offseason are focused on the short and long term.
Seattle has the chance to fail during their stab at stability, without devastating consequences—2011 is a wild-card season because they won the division last year, but in 2013 and beyond they want to be contending for a championship.
Not often does an organization get the opportunity to move on from a former Pro-Bowl, playoff-veteran quarterback by choice; and at the same time craft a scenario where they get two chances to find their next franchise quarterback early in the team building process; all while believing they can be competitive enough to win the division, the weakest division in the NFL in 2010.
A unique opportunity that was too enticing for a rebuilding, yet always competing program to pass up.