Mike Sando is reporting that Seahawks GM John Schneider is releasing this as the team’s official statement regarding Leroy Hill’s latest arrest:
“While we are still in the process of gathering information, we are aware of the situation involving Leroy Hill and take these issues very seriously. We will wait to receive all the facts before commenting further.”
Pretty standard stuff as far as the immediate PR-friendly responses are concerned, but what is this going to mean for Leroy Hill’s future with the team?
For one thing, the team’s depth at linebacker is definitely the strongest asset of the Seahawks’ defense. Aaron Curry should see a monster year under the tutelage of new linebackers coach Ken Norton, Jr., and Lofa Tatupu will hopefully come back strong after missing most of the 2009 season due to injury. But what I find most intriguing about this group is the rising talent.
David Hawthorne came out of nowhere to fill in for Lofa last year, bringing in three interceptions, two forced fumbles and 117 total tackles. With a performance like that, Hawthorne’s value is unquestionably high, and he’s only 24 years old. Meanwhile, LB Will Herring also had some flashes of excellence last year, coming up big in some clutch situations. His stats aren’t as impressive on paper, but his on-field presence made a difference on a generally weak defense.
Combine these two up-and-comers with Tatupu and Curry, and you have a quartet of linebackers to be reckoned with (as long as Jim Mora isn’t handling the defensive playcalls.) With Leroy Hill seemingly unable to clean up his act and stay out of trouble, the team’s depth at the position makes him a liability. His future with the team is certainly in jeopardy, pending the results of his domestic violence investigation. But also, keep in mind that this charge is coming only ten days after he received 12 months’ probation for pleading guilty to a marijuana possession charge.
With Hill still under a lucrative, multi-year contract, accumulating unimpressive on-field stats last year and unable to stay off police blotter, he’s not doing himself any favors. He’s looking to repeat last year’s instance of not playing until after Week 4, if he plays at all.
[Additonally, Hill's contract is set up so that only the first two years' salary ($11 million total) is guaranteed by his contract. If cut, Seattle would still be on the hook for his 2011 salary ($4.5 million), but without a salary cap in place that doesn't hurt quite so much. -Ed.]