The sad truth hawk fans, no matter how much you imagine Hutch is a hall of fame player and a playmaker and a flashy player with mean streak, if he had signed an extension with this team we aren't in the position to say we'd be a good running team with him. He had attempted to negotiate during the 2005 season with John Clayton reporting that he was asking for around 8 million a year with a bonus that was hefty. The Hawks declined knowing they had some more needs.
Another reason I look at the Hawks hesitation to sign him to big money is the condition of the offensive line. Robbie's sudden retirement which was fast approaching, Walter turning 32 and Chris Gray one or two years from retirement. When you look at Hutch's game, he's clearly awesome down field, but scouts had effectively said against big tackles he tended to struggle to generate push. He struggled against Dallas and the Steelers, and the Redskins when they ran a 5 man front in the NFC championship game. He never allowed penetration much in the run, but also was rated a C- by most scouts in the league, especially against stunts or twists in pass protection Sounds like an 8 million dollar guard to you right?
The problem with the Hutchinson debate is he's always had some kind of serious talent around him that helps him do what he does best and that's charge down field and slam linebackers into safeties, but in the event he didn't or couldn't do that, the running game often stalled in Seattle, Alan Faneca or Larry Allen were better fits as crushers, guys who could open holes at the line of scrimmage consistently Hutch at the time wasn't capable of that.
So in the end, at best we franchise him and had one more year with his skill set. Then lose him, or we sign him to a big deal and let Alexander Walk, Tobeck retire, Gray get old and Walter become an injury aged tackle. I don't doubt Hutch's total skill set, I just question his skill outside of 2006 where he's clearly above everyone else in skill set and the pressure is on him to succeed.
We can argue leadership, or semantics, but in the end, The franchise tag simply adds one and done, and the 8 million dollar salary says we want to be able to keep a young team, or line together, which Seattle didn't really have.