From Matt Hasselbeck's point of view, does it make sense to return to Seattle? First off, his family is here and by all accounts they love it here. Secondly, for a QB like Hasselbeck, who is so revered here in Seattle, on paper it makes sense to end his career in the city in which he became a hero for leading the Hawks to the Superbowl in 2005. He's a class act - there's no doubt about that, and Seattle fans have a ton of respect for him as a leader and face of the franchise.
Now apart from those obvious reasons, why would Hasselbeck want to stay in Seattle? By most accounts, the Seahawks are in rebuild mode and have little chance of contending for any title in 2011. They're a young team trying to assemble a nucleus of talent but thus far aren't close to being elite. If I'm Matt Hasselbeck, it makes a lot more sense to go to a team with the major pieces in place like Minnesota or Tennessee. Both of those teams have established run games and a stable of effective wide receivers (sort of - depends on Kenny Britt and Sidney Rice of course) to support a player like Hass and both are lacking a starting QB for 2011. Even Matt's brother Tim said it on Brock and Salk a few months ago - Hasselbeck is a QB that can lead a team and have success as long as the pieces are in place and he has talented players around him. I have to think Matt can see himself having success with both the Vikings or Titans.
Over the last few years, when the Hawks have struggled, Matt has tried to put the team on his back but for the most part this has ended in disaster or injury, or both. He ends up forcing passes down field and giving up turnovers, exacerbating the problems with the run game and defense. The horses are simply not in place yet for the Hawks, though they are going in the right direction. Does it behoove Hasselbeck to stick around another year to see if the Hawks catch fire?
In a recent interview with the Boston Globe's Greg A. Bedard (a great read by one of the best in the business, check out the full article here), has had this to say about the situation with the Hawks:
"I'm definitely hopeful that I'll be able to stay in Seattle, but at the same time I understand the first thing's got to happen first and that's definitely reaching some kind of labor agreement.''
On whether he believes the Hawks acted sincerely when they tried to re-sign him and how he feels about continuing to play for the Hawks:
"I think it's genuine, I think it's sincere that they want me back, it's just a matter of how badly,'' he said. "I know that I would like to be there, I think I can help them keep going on what we're building there, it's just a matter if it fits into the new agreement and how they want to do things and whatever else they look at.''
"I loved playing for Pete [Carroll],'' said Hasselbeck. "I really like the group of coaches he brought with him and the staff that he assembled. The trade for Charlie was, I think in a way they felt it was necessary because the organization really hadn't invested in the quarterback position in so long. We went years without really drafting or addressing the situation. So that was not a big deal at all. The hardest thing was just all the roster turnover that we had. I think we had 284 roster moves, and for that reason, as quarterback of the team, I just felt like it was the toughest year trying to just work with a new combination of teammates seemingly every week. It was challenging. But I would also say it's probably the year that I'm most proud of in terms of just holding it all together, guys weathering the storm and coming together as a team. So, I'm really happy with how it went. We didn't have a wonderful season in terms of being 7-9 but we weathered the storm, we won the games we needed to win to win our division, and we beat the world champs at home. It could have gone even better but we were really fortunate and it was a lot of fun.''
Hasselbeck then goes on to talk about Jake Locker and explain that he wouldn't be against mentoring a young player and sort of hints at the possibility that he's at a point in his career that he may even end up playing behind them. He said:
And I understand it could be a reality with me this year, whether it's with the Seahawks or wherever that I'm with a guy like that, a young guy. I was fortunate in my career to be around some great veteran quarterbacks and just learned so much from them,'' Hasselbeck said. "I'm kind of excited for that kind of an opportunity to maybe be on a team with a really talented young guy and just get the opportunity to pay that forward just a little bit, things that I've learned along the way. If I can share that with a really talented guy that's willing to work and listen, that could be a really fun thing. And at the same time hopefully be on a really good team.''
As far as I'm concerned, this is the best attitude that Hasselbeck can have and if he were to be re-signed for another year or two with the Hawks, this mentality would go a long, long way towards the success of Pete Carroll's program. With that being said, this doesn't mean Seattle is necessarily the best fit for him professionally any more. Seattle is not teetering on the edge of being great - they're middling at best. I've got high hopes for their success in two to three years from now, but by then Hasselbeck will most likely be nearing the end of his career. If he wants another chance to win the big one, he should think long and hard about the idea of re-signing here.
And here's something that not a lot of people have brought up, and I hadn't really considered until just now: - maybe Hasselbeck is the one that's acting out of respect and politic by privately demanding way too much so both sides can move on with a sense that 'we tried to get it done, but it just didn't work out - no hard feelings and best of luck'. Maybe Hass knows his best bet is to catch on with a contender in need of a QB - and there are a lot of them out there - Minnesota and Tennessee I have already mentioned, but add San Francisco and Miami into the mix and maybe even teams like Cleveland or Cincinnati are more attractive to him than Seattle.
By entering free agency, Hasselbeck has the chance to explore those options and see what kind of interest he gets. He could well get some interest, especially after the way he played in the playoffs - and may decide he wants a change of venue for the last few years of his career. He may decide it's best for him to ride out of town into the sunset on the wave of goodwill he built up by leading the Hawks past the Saints.