This is the first edition of our ongoing offseason checklist. It will be updated as goals are met. I prefer this to a "plan" because it accepts that I, as a blogger, do not know all the factors in play, and therefore can not endorse a team signing nor chide a team for not signing a specific player. At the same time, I think it's a solid analysis of the team's needs, and potential ways of filling those needs. I have grouped this list in three tiers of importance, from priorities at top, to considerations at bottom. Stuff at the bottom is exactly what it's listed as, Considerations, things that could benefit the team and therefore should be considered. Let's start.
Draft a Long Term Replacement for Walter Jones
For most priorities I do not define exactly how the team should fill a need, but left tackle is an obvious exception. Top left tackles rarely see free agency, and when they do, are frightfully expensive. Further, this is a gangbusters draft for offensive tackle talent. If Seattle does not acquire a young offensive tackle this offseas on, it will be hard to rate this offseason as anything but a failure.
Re-sign or Franchise Marcus Trufant
Tru is among the very best talents on this roster, add to that his age, his progression and the time it takes to develop a young corner, and this is a slamdunk no-brainer. The team needs to retain Trufant or suffer an extreme drop-off at both corner positions.
Draft, Sign, Develop or Trade For a Starting Left Guard
This is not a key -> keyhole situation. Seattle has a definite need, but no one way of filling it. If 2007 draftee Mansfield Wrotto has shown enough on the practice squad, then Seattle may only be thinking depth. Wrotto certainly has the tools, but late as the 2007 NFL draft, none of the polish. If Seattle wishes to draft a left guard, Duke Robinson is one of the better guard talents to come around in a number of years. Behind him is a deep class, with some top-tier talent. It would not be inconceivable, nor inadvisable, for Seattle to draft two offensive linemen in the first 3 rounds.
Ensure Stability at Head Coach
I'm not going to participate further in the speculation of whether Holmgren will retire or not. I've picked my horse, made it clear months back that I thought that this was Holmgren's last season with the team, and am not going to junior psycho-analyze his recent press conference. Be it Holmgren, Jim Mora Jr, Jon Gruden or Coach X, the Seattle Seahawks are a veteran club that needs stability in its coaching staff. All things considered, Mora would likely be preferable. One thing I definitely wish to avoid is Holmgren coaching one more season, and therefore being the proverbial "lame duck". If Holmgren wishes to stick around, I hope he signs an extension and recommits himself to the craft. When Holmgren says that Stump Mitchell is making the decision as to which running back receives carries, I question his commitment to fielding a winning team.
Draft, Sign, Develop or Trade for a Starting Caliber Quarterback
Another move that should be done now, and not when the team is so destitute that it must look to the first round of the NFL draft to fill this need. Colt Brennan, John David Booty and/or Erik Ainge may all slip into the third round. Each, to my eyes, have what it takes to make it in the pros.
Permanently Covert Seneca Wallace to Wide Receiver
Wallace has the skills to be a Pro Bowl receiver, but nothing more than an adequate quarterback. Seattle needs a quarterback in place who can eventually supplant Matt Hasselbeck, they need a #1 wide receiver right now. The offseason is the perfect time to commit to turning the 27 y/o old Wallace into a fulltime wide receiver. At the same time, Wallace could still be the emergency, third string quarterback.
Extend a Long Term Contract to Mike Clark and Darren Krein
The Seahawks strength and conditioning coaches are clearly doing a bangup job. Taking care of this little stuff can pay huge dividends in team health.
Clear Up the Running Back Mess
It's not necessary that Seattle use an early round draft pick on a running back. A late round pick, or a low cost castoff like Julius Jones or Mewelde Moore would more than suffice - that is, if Seattle needs to add another running back at all. What is for certain, though, is that Seattle must at the very least drop Shaun Alexander down the depth chart. Way down. Even considering the cap penalty, it is justifiable to outright cut Alexander, ideally after June 1st, so that it would be split over the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Alexander, at his very best as a rusher, is still a liability for his extremely poor play as a receiver. The Seahawks cannot hope to be the best team in football with Shaun Alexander as their starting tailback.
Offer DJ Hackett a 1-Year, Incentive Laden Contract
No team in its right mind would offer Hackett a long term contract after a career wracked with injuries. At the same time, any and every team could use Hackett's talent. For Hackett, his goal is clearly long term security, and that's all about getting paid. He must know that his most recent season is not going to give him the leverage to demand much in free agency. The obvious solution is to offer Hackett an incentive laden one-year offer that will net him some scratch this season, and free him up to get paid next season - Should he earn it.
Draft, Sign, Develop or Trade for a Starting Caliber Safety
Whatever you think of Brian Russell, Seattle needs depth at safety. A run stopper who could hold his own in coverage could vault Seattle's already stout run D into exclusive company. For 2 years, Seattle has struggled allowing long runs. Deon Grant is a fine tackler for a free safety, but that statement speaks for itself. A starting caliber strong safety, who might be a little worse in coverage than Russell, but loads better at run stopping, would ameliorate Seattle's worst run weakness (long runs), plus improve the coverage and run stopping play of the free safety (by moving Deon Grant back to his natural position). No other single move could do more to improve Seattle's already very good defense.
Begin Negotiations to Re-Sign Leroy Hill
Hill looks primed for a breakout next season. Incidentally, the season before he enters free agency. Seattle can lock this guy up on the sly now, or battle the market and its inflated rates next offseason.
Draft, Sign...a Replacement for Rocky Bernard
Big Rock has been plagued by injuries each of the last two seasons, and nearing 28, steep decline is a real possibility as early as next season. Seattle should look to gifted one-gap tackles, with good size, that may fall to the later rounds of the draft. That's how they got Big Rock, and that's the best way to replace him.
Draft, Sign...a Tight End
Tight end is simply not the priority it was when Mike Holmgren first joined the Seahawks. Having a tight end on roster that could block and provide a Marcus Pollard (not counting this last contest) level of production in the passing game would be sufficient. That might be Joe Newton, a free agent or a draftee. One way or another, it should not cost Seattle a major outlay of resources.
Attempt to Re-Sign Josh Brown, Ellis Wyms, Niko Koutouvides and Kevin Bentley
In that order of priority, though I might put Wyms ahead of Brown. Don't break the bank for any of them.
Explore Trading Patrick Kerney
Kerney's value is very high, and he stands atop that precipice that has claimed better defensive ends than him: his early 30s. This is the classic Billy Beane, move-'em-while-they're-hot strategy. Not very likely, by any means, but worth exploring.
Explore Trading for Julius Peppers
Don't let one season fool you, Peppers is still a freakish talent in the prime of his career. His 16 million dollar cap number and recent poor performance make him potentially available. Let Randy Moss be an exemplar, when a one of a kind talent is available, every team in its right mind should attempt to get their hands on him.
Feel free to add anything you think I've missed. We'll update this as the offseason progresses.