2011 Free Agents: QB

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With the pending issues surrounding the CBA negotiations, we have no idea when free agency is going to happen, what it is going to look like, or what the rules and stipulations governing it will be.  So until that happens, here is a list that I started looking at to pass the time until the Seahawks can actually make moves to improve the team.

We all know that the Hawks need to improve the talent level on their roster, just as we know that the front office will use any and all means necessary to make that happen.  And although the team pursued a few high-profile free agents last year (Vincent Jackson and Brandon Marshall come to mind), they won’t overpay for a free agent.  Schneider’s experience working for Green Bay taught him that lesson.  We all assumed last year that, with a new GM coming over from the Packers, that the Seahawks would never be players in free agency, but I believe we’ve seen enough to know that Schneider will pursue a free agent if there is a need and the price is right.

The following is what I hope becomes a fairly in-depth review of all the players who could possibly be available as free agents.  I will also try my best to note whether there is any hope that the front office will pursue any of them.  By keeping in mind things like scheme fit, character traits, history, and potential asking price I think we can come up with a fairly good list.  There’s no guarantee that any of this will end up being correct, but I can’t think of a better way to pass the time during the offseason.  The best place to start would be the most important position in football, the quarterback, especially since it also happens to be a position where the Hawks have the most need.

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Matt Hasselbeck (SEA)

I know there are a lot of Hasselbeck detractors out there on the blogs.  I also know that there are very few viable options out there when it comes to starting-caliber QBs.  Hasselbeck is the best option for now.  The Seahawks should sign him to a contract, but they should also make sure that he understands that he is competing for a starting role.  As soon as a rookie, free agent, or even Whitehurst gives the team a better chance of winning, then Hass should be sat down on the bench. 

I believe he could be a great mentor for a young player.  He seems to have the right temperament to ride the pine without being a distraction to whichever young QB happens to beat him out of his starting gig.  Hasselbeck has proven to Carroll and Schneider that he is “All In,” as per the team’s slogan last season.  Carroll wants players who all pull in the same direction and participate in everything the Hawks are doing in the offseason. Plus, Hasselbeck’s also shown through his performance in the playoffs that he’s got a little gas left in his tank.  He’s capable of being the team’s starter until some rookie is ready to replace him.

Besides, Hasselbeck has ties to the area.  He’s got young kids living in the Seattle area and doesn’t want to relocate unless he absolutely has to, so he may be willing to give the Seahawks a discount to continue playing for them.  Put all of the above together, and Hasselbeck really is the best and most likely starting QB option for the team.

Peyton Manning (IND)

Let’s be honest, Manning isn’t going anywhere.  He will retire a Colt.  If he doesn’t, I will choke on my tongue and die.

Michael Vick (PHI)

Vick’s been franchise tagged, which will mean something as long as there is still going to be a franchise tag after the CBA negotiations are done.  For now, I think we can assume that there will at least be something like it still around for teams to use.

Brett Favre (OLD)

Can we say, “For the love of Paul Allen, NNNOOO!”?

Seneca Wallace (CLE)

Although Wallace has the athletic ability that the current front office has been coveting in a QB, I don’t believe they traded him away last year so that they could sign him back as a free agent.

Alex Smith (SF)

Hell no.

Vince Young (TEN)

Young has so many question marks, I don’t know where to start.  I mean, the guy was fired for being immature, and I think we’re all aware of Young’s failures and drama.  But do I still want him on the team?  Yes, I do.  Carroll has always been able to see talent.  Heck, the guy coached the 33rd NFL team at USC, for crying out loud.  He’s used to having a ton of talent in his team, and he’s definitely not in that position right now.  We all want him back in that heavenly place where his third stringers would be starters for most other teams.

Carroll took a chance on Mike Williams last year as a reclamation project.  The team signed BMW to an insignificant contract and let him compete his way onto the team.  Why not let Young do the same thing?  Let him prove that he belongs; if he isn’t able to buy in, then let him go.  Just like with LenDale White, he should be cut if he shows any signs of Drama.  What do we have to lose by giving him a tryout?  The Seahawks aren’t in a position to draft any of the best QBs in this year’s draft, and if all goes well on the field next season they won’t be in a position to draft one next year either.  I am a guy who loves to see the best in people, and I hope that Young has been able to learn from the whole Tennessee fiasco and mature some.  If he has, then Seattle could be a great opportunity for him to prove everyone wrong.  “Always Compete” is a mantra for this team for a reason, and I say we should apply that mantra to Young (especially if he can be signed on the cheap).

Matt Leinart (HOU)

I would be interested to see Leinart signed as a potential backup and let him fight for a roster spot during training camp, as long as it wouldn’t take too large a contract.  A stint in Seattle would be his chance to prove his doubters wrong, especially after his former USC teammate Mike Williams did exactly that last year.  From what I’ve read, Carroll and Williams didn’t talk to each other during camp because neither wanted anyone to assume Williams was getting preferential treatment because of his past experience playing for Carroll.  I think that same model should be applied to Leinart.  If he comes in and earns a spot in camp, I wouldn’t have a problem with that.  Better yet, he should be fairly cheap to sign.

Other Notable Free Agents Who Just Shouldn’t Happen (thanks to Football’s Future for the list):

Mark Bulger (BAL)
Todd Collins (CHI)
Caleb Hanie (CHI)
Brady Quinn (DEN)
Drew Stanton (DET)
Trent Edwards (JAC)
Luke McCown (JAC)
Brodie Croyle (KC)
Chad Pennington (MIA)
Tyler Thigpen (MIA)
Tarvaris Jackson (MIN)
Jim Sorgi (NYG)
Kellen Clemens (NYJ)
Kyle Boller (OAK)
Bruce Gradkowski (OAK)
Dennis Dixon (PIT)
Billy Volek (SD)
Troy Smith (SF)
Kerry Collins (TEN)
Rex Grossman (WAS)

I would love to see the Hawks bring back Hasselbeck.  I would also like to see them add a free agent QB to compete in camp, and Vince Young or Matt Leinart would be great for that role.  I desperately want Seattle to pick up the best QB they can in the draft so that he can sit on the bench and be mentored by Hass until the rookie is able to earn the starting job. 

The Seahawks aren’t going to be able to draft the cream of the QB crop this year: Cam Newton, Jake Locker, and Blaine Gabbert.  All three have the potential to be amazing QBs, and none of them have too many concerns about their ability to win at the pro level.  However, most draft blogs, including the Seahawks Draft blog,  believe that all be off the board long before Seattle picks, which leaves them to choose from a mix of developmental QBs and Ryan Mallett.    Mallett has too many character issues, but most importantly I don’t believe he is the sort of person who will have the necessary “All-In” attitude Carroll is looking for.  At other positions you might be able to get away with a guy who hasn’t bought in completely, but a QB is supposed to be a leader.  You want someone who is going to be the first one to turn the lights on at the VMAC and the guy who turns them off at night, a player who is a model for his teammates of how the game should be played and how to prepare for games.  I don’t think Mallett will be that guy.

As for the potential of trading up, the team is already without a pick in the third round this year.  The Seahawks don’t need to trade away more picks, they need to get as much talent as they can in this draft.  I would be okay with trading up to get a franchise QB if the team was only missing one or two pieces to start making a long string of runs at multiple Super Bowls, but they haven’t been in that position since the mid-2000s. (Dang you, Tim Ruskell!)  I firmly believe Seattle will not be trading up in the first round of this draft.  The team just has too many holes and not enough talent.    If anything, I see Carroll and Schneider trading back in the draft to recoup a third round pick, even though that would mean using the draft to stock up on young talent while neglecting the QB position once again.  The team will go for the best player available in this draft (or at least the best player available in a position of need).