Nothing to Show for First Week, but Seattle Seahawks About to Get Busy

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIMarch 13, 2010

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 27:  Chris Baker #86 of the New England Patriots makes a catch and runs it in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons on September 27, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Falcons 26-10.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

The Seahawks don’t have much to show for the first week of free agency, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy. And they’re about to get busier.

Even though they chose not to pursue Julius Peppers, Aaron Kampman, Antrel Rolle or Chester Taylor, they actually have been quite active.

From the meet-and-greet with Brandon Marshall, to visits with secondary role players, to their multi-pronged quarterback search, the Hawks have taken a measured approach.

Since the Marshall meeting last weekend, their biggest moves have been conceding to Mike Holmgren’s Cleveland Browns in two deals: trading QB Seneca Wallace for a paltry seventh-round pick in 2011 and letting the Browns win a bidding war for tight end Ben Watson at $4 million per year.

Watson would have been a great complement to John Carlson, but the Hawks obviously didn’t want to pay their No. 2 tight end that much money, especially considering Carlson is scheduled to make $522,000 in 2010.

With Watson off the market, though, the Seahawks reportedly are putting the full-court press on tight end Chris Baker, who played with Watson in New England last year and is basically the Seahawks’ Option 1A for a second tight end to pair with Carlson.

The Hawks are going to have to pony up some cash if they want a solid No. 2 pass-catching tight end. (Excellent breakdown at Scout.com on the importance of two tight ends in Jeremy Bates’ offense.)

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On the quarterback front, the Seahawks reportedly are focusing on San Diego restricted QB Charlie Whitehurst, with former Browns QB Derek Anderson the apparent fallback.

ESPN’s John Clayton confirms our suspicion that the Hawks have no interest in trading for longtime Philadelphia QB Donovan McNabb

“There is no McNabb scenario for Seattle. That’s ridiculous,” Clayton said on KIRO radio Thursday, essentially echoing what we wrote that day. “They’ve already got a quarterback [Matt Hasselbeck] that’s heading into his mid-30s. They’re not going to trade for a QB in his mid-30s. It doesn’t make any sense.

“It would be a backward move,” Clayton added. “If you’re going to pick up McNabb, you’re going to give away one of the pieces that can fix another position on your offense.”

Although the Broncos are posturing for a first-rounder in return for the mercurial Marshall, Clayton reports what we suspected: The Hawks will not give up one of their first-round picks but will consider offering their second-rounder and other considerations.

And, as Clayton said, that means the Seahawks would not want to surrender their second-rounder for McNabb.

Not that the Eagles would even take a second for McNabb. Like the Broncos, the Eagles apparently are asking for a first-rounder or more for McNabb. They reportedly would want two first-rounders for 25-year-old Kevin Kolb, which the Seahawks certainly would not do.

So scratch the Eagles’ quarterbacks from any connection to the Hawks, who are ostensibly happy with Hasselbeck as their starter (they reportedly paid his $1 million roster bonus Thursday) and are focusing on bringing in Whitehurst or Anderson.

Whitehurst was the Chargers’ third-round pick in 2006, but he has been stuck behind Philip Rivers and Billy Volek. The 27-year-old could be another Hasselbeck: a guy who learned the NFL from the sideline before getting his shot elsewhere.

At 6-4, Whitehurst has perfect size, a strong arm, excellent mobility and good pocket presence. He lasted until the third round in 2006 because he was too inconsistent in college; the scouting report on him says he tried to force too many throws downfield.

Having been coached by Norv Turner for the past three years and watching Rivers evolve into one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Whitehurst surely has learned what it takes to play in the NFL. And it looks like it might just about be his time to do it.

If the Hawks want him, though, they will have to work out a trade, because they don’t have the third-rounder that would be required to sign him to an offer sheet.

That’s where Arizona has the advantage. The Cardinals are interested in Whitehurst, too, and they have a third-rounder.

The Hawks would need to offer something more appealing. As mentioned above, they probably want to hold on to their second-round pick. But the Hawks might be able to get the Chargers to swap seconds.

According to the NFL draft trade chart, that would be a pretty equitable deal: the 40th pick (500 points) for the 60th (300 points) and a guy who was drafted 81st (185 points).

Otherwise, the Hawks probably would have to dip into next year’s draft, perhaps a second-rounder in 2011. Or a fifth this year and third next year.

Of course, Anderson wouldn’t cost any draft picks. At 26, he is 10 months younger than Whitehurst and has a lot more experience (39 games to two). But he also does not seem to have the same potential, which is why he is a second-tier option for both Arizona and Seattle.

Elsewhere on offense, the Seahawks have not been very active in trying to upgrade their offensive line. But it is becoming clear why they might not be interested in Ryan Lilja or Chester Pitts: health issues.

Although the initial reason for his release by the Colts was lack of size (he’s 6-2, 290), Lilja reportedly failed a physical just before he was cut. He missed 2008 with a knee injury and had shoulder and back issues last season. Kansas City reportedly will meet with him Monday, but he doesn’t seem to be in high demand.  

Pitts is, despite the fact that he is recovering from microfracture knee surgery. He is visiting Detroit and San Francisco, and Miami and Cincinnati also have expressed interest. So if the Hawks are interested in him, they will have company.

One guard the Hawks probably have the inside track on is Ben Hamilton, who played in Denver when new Seattle offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was there.

The Seahawks reportedly plan to bring Hamilton in for a visit soon, and as Clayton said, “You can almost count on Ben Hamilton being a Seahawk, assuming he’s healthy.”

Among the players the Seahawks have brought in, running back Mike Bell, cornerback William James, and defensive linemen Dwan Edwards and Tyler Brayton are all still unsigned. Of course, that’s because they are all second-rate players.

The other intriguing player out there is safety O.J. Atogwe, a restricted free agent who would not require draft-pick compensation if the Hawks could sign him to a deal the St. Louis Rams would not match.

Atogwe is rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder, but he is certainly worth a look. Dallas reportedly is interested.

Now that most of the desirable unrestricted free agents have been signed, the restricted market figures to start heating up. Whitehurst and Atogwe are just two of those players who figure to be pursued.

The offer-sheet signing period ends April 15, although players can always be traded after that.

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