02/12/2010 Signed LS Patrick MacDonald and LS Matt Overton.
Why this is good: Kevin Houser suffered a collapsed lung and adding depth at long snapper is practical.
Why this is bad: It is not bad. Whatever Seattle's recent history, long snapper should be an easy enough position to fill and adding freely available talent is the right way to ensure depth.
02/23/2010 Signed DE Ricky Foley and P Tom Malone.
Why this is good: Foley is a semi-accomplished situational pass rusher. He is Clemons, but cheaper and acquired without trading a resource. Malone seems to be similar in style and ability to Jon Ryan.
Why this is bad: There is nothing wrong with signing Foley, but he has limited value. Ryan's $1.6 million signing bonus likely precludes Seattle cutting him, meaning Malone is not likely to make the Seahawks. Neither move is bad, but neither move is likely to add much value.
02/24/2010 Placed franchise tag on K Olindo Mare.
Why this is good: Olindo Mare is very good at kickoffs.
Why this is bad: Kickoff ability is undervalued, and it is possible to likely that capable kickers are freely available. Using the franchise tag on Mare stopped Seattle from applying the tag to either Cory Redding or Nate Burleson. Burleson had obvious value on the open market. He was the very first player signed in free agency, and he signed to a five-year, $25 million contract. Even if Seattle had no interest in Burleson, applying a tag would have allowed Seattle to trade him.
03/08/2010 Traded QB Seneca Wallace to Cleveland for a 2011 undisclosed draft pick.
Why this is good: Wallace had little chance of contributing to the Seahawks as a quarterback and trading him for anything is more valuable than cutting him.
Why this is bad: As a semi-accomplished backup quarterback, Wallace would have retained value up to and through the preseason. Seattle had no pressing reason to ship him off, and seemingly moved him when his value was its absolute lowest. Had Seattle waited for an inevitable injury, it could likely have gotten more in trade. If the ceiling for Seneca was a conditional sixth or seventh round pick in 2011, Seattle would have wrung more value from Wallace by keeping him as a wildcat quarterback. However you want to look at it, Seattle traded an asset for as little as possible.
03/15/2010 Released S Deon Grant, LS Matt Overton and RB Tyler Roehl.
Why this is good: Grant was due quite a bit over the final few seasons of his contract, he was not an irreplaceable player, and he turned 31 March 14.
Why this is bad: Seattle had no pressing need to release Grant. Releasing him opens a hole in an already thin unit. In light of recent moves, Seattle truly does seem committed to making a run this season, and Grant is likely better than a rookie. Seattle is now obligated to add a starter-capable safety. This removes flexibility. Had Seattle retained Grant, it could have added a developmental safety in almost any round. Instead, Seattle must add a week one starter.
03/15/2010 Signed WR Ruvell Martin.
Why this is good: Martin has moderate upside and fits Carroll's preference for larger receivers.
Why this is bad: It isn't. Nothing spent but money.
03/15/2010 Signed TE Chris Baker
Why this is good: Baker fills a need at tight end without costing draft picks.
Why this is bad: Baker is 30 and probably pretty close to washed up. He is on his third team in three seasons, his production as a receiver has plummeted, and his contract should ensure he makes the team, whatever his actual value. Not a terrible move, but also not one that helps a rebuilding franchise. Adding a young tight end adds potential, and a blocking tight should be available late in the draft or even as an undrafted free agent. Classic blunder of assuming veteran stability now, while ignoring impending decline and sacrificing development time and upside.
03/16/2010 Traded Darryl Tapp for Chris Clemons and a Fourth Round Selection
Why this is good: A fourth round selection is decently valuable, and this is a good draft.
Why this is bad: As the Foley signing indicates, Clemons is probably worse than a freely available situational pass rusher. The list of situational pass rushers that can squeeze out a few sacks is long and undistinguished. Clemons matches the profile, but adds sizable injury risk. If Seattle was locked into adding a situational pass rusher, it could have done it the same way the Skins acquired Clemons, by inviting an undrafted linebacker to training camp. Linebacker sized players with some speed and some agility are relatively plentiful. A young player gives a young, rebuilding team upside without adding financial risk. Clemons adds downside and a free agent contract.
In an average draft, the pick Seattle received for Tapp, a fourth round selection, is likely to produce a single-year starter of undetermined but presumably poor quality. Not only is this pick unlikely to produce an impact player or even a regular, but that player is unlikely to produce until many years down the road. For a team that is getting older, and has invested in an older quarterback it hopes to quickly develop, it turned a player on the brink of his prime into a draft pick unlikely to contribute for years.
The greatest damage done is losing Tapp. Tapp is a young player with good potential, but beyond that, was already one of the very best players on the Seahawks defense. However bad Seattle's defense was, and I know many think it was very bad, it was not tainted. Every part of the defense was not equally responsible for the overall failure, and seeing Tapp as a bad player because the defense on the whole was bad is a foolish oversimplification. Philly recognized Tapp's potential, cutting Darren Howard and immediately locking Tapp up through 2013. His contract is dirt cheap and easy to escape. Finally, there is no indication that Tapp simply refused to play in Seattle. He described the transaction as bittersweet. In fact, Tapp recently married a local Seattle woman.
03/16/2010 Bar Rob Sims from Offseason Workouts
Why this is good: It's not. There is no reason this is good.
Why this is bad: Seattle put a cap on Sims trade value by placing an original round tender on the former fourth round pick. Not only is locking him out of offseason workouts disruptive and bad PR, but it removes leverage. Seattle is now locked into trading Sims, and whatever was formerly offered may now be reduced. If Seattle would have controlled their leaks, they could have done what a smart franchise does, announce trades when they are complete rather than putting their players in limbo.
03/17/2010 Traded for Charlie Whitehurst
Why this is good: Adding a quarterback is very encouraging step for a team that just a couple months ago was throwing its support behind Matt Hasselbeck. Whitehurst has a good set of tools and some pro ready skills. His potential is decent, even if his floor is bottomless.
Why this is bad: Seattle became the first team I can remember that signed a tendered player and agreed to trade more than the original tender in exchange. Multiple quarterbacks changed hands before the Seahawks signed Whitehurst, and there is no reason to assume Whitehurst has much more potential than Brady Quinn or Derek Anderson. He is older and less experienced than either. Some are awarding him credit for having not screwed up in a regular season game, but his preseason stats are markedly worse than Quinn or Anderson's regular season stats.
It is very had to reconcile Whitehurst's value with what Seattle spent to sign him. After Arizona signed Anderson, the Seahawks were the lone suitors for Whitehurst. At that point, and now knowing the Chargers terms, Seattle should have walked away. Whenever it became clear that Whitehurst would cost 20 spots in the second round and a third-round pick in 2011, Seattle should have walked away. Whitehurst has to first beat out Matt Hasselbeck, and assuming Hasselbeck will stay healthy through the preseason, that should be difficult. Then he has to prove his career to date does not reflect his actual value. If he does neither, proves his high sack percentage and low completion percentage accurately reflect his potential, Seattle will have exchanged a quite a bit of value for nothing.
If Whitehurst does develop, how long will it take? Hasselbeck needed about one and a half seasons to become respectable, but he was younger, groomed by a quarterback guru, and hand picked to play in Mike Holmgren's offense. Trent Green, another late in life starter, needed three seasons. He was not a good quarterback until his age 32 season, and that breakout occurred on a Chiefs offense Seattle has little hope of replicating. Seattle signed Whitehurst to a two-year contract. When it has expired, will Seattle be able to accurately judge his ability? Probably not. If he doesn't beat out Hasselbeck, should Seattle count on him in 2011 and beyond? No, and so Seattle would be back at square one. Quarterback is the most valuable position on the field, and finding a good one is worth almost any cost, but Whitehurst is tantalizing at best, and still faces a long journey to becoming a starter, much less a good one.