Good stuff from Frank Hughes and the Trib. This is exactly the type of content I want from someone with ins and sources. Let's rip right into this point-by-point.
We already knew this. Later Frank posted a list of players who could be cut and it's basically a player by player recreation of this post. Now, obviously, having cap room is preferable to not having cap room, but the current class of free agents offers little Seattle can use. Seattle's primary needs: safety, running back, wide receiver, line depth and special teams are all best filled through the draft. Seattle's been big spenders in free agency the past two offseasons, it's belt tightening time.
Well...that's not encouraging. Nothing Alexander did last season would imply that he can "return to his former exploits", and if he did rebound at 31, after a brutal workload in 2005 and two very poor seasons since, he'd be a historical outlier. Oh the 24 players ahead of Alexander on the all time rushing list, only John Riggins rebounded from two consecutive down seasons to once again produce at a high level. Alexander hasn't even averaged 2 receptions a game since 2003. I hope, only, that as in 2007 when Ruskell insisted that Seattle was not shopping Darrell Jackson, this is a bluff.
Weaver's Weaver, Laury's a decent special teams player and Kirtman provides the Hawks a more traditional fullback. Not tendering Pearman is a good indication that Seattle will be drafting a running back. With what pick and of what caliber is unknowable.
What this really means is that Branch probably suffered a clean tear of the ACL without collateral damage to other structures within the knee. That's very good news. With regards to Branch returning, it depends on how look at it, and I'm not sure I can say which is correct with any sort of certainty. A player's proprioception typically is slow to return after any kind of ligament transplant or reconstruction. An ACL tear should foremost affect a player's agility. Branch's singular best tool is his agility. Now, Branch's exceptional agility might mean that he can still be an effective player at 90%, but it more likely means that should Branch suffer lost agility, he will be worse off than a receiver who can compensate with exceptional speed or height. I still think it's a real stretch to expect much from Branch in 2008.
As much as we all love Browny, it's time to let him find his payday somewhere else. Kickers define fungible. It's funny, fans grouse when a favorite is let go, but want their team to be well run. Well everyone, this is how an NFL franchise is well run.
We already knew Hacks was gone. I find it a little odd that Logan Payne received "effusive" praise but didn't see a snap last season. Payne might be your typical practice squad standout who wins hearts with hustle. Seattle needs a wide receiver that can produce now. Of that group, Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu are the most pro ready.
Unless you really expect prescience from your GM, it's not reasonable to critique Ruskell for Pearman's early exit. It's good to see Seattle with a nearly complete draft. I wouldn't be surprised if someone isn't traded away between now and the 26th to acquire an additional pick. Given the Hawks cap space, the draft is Seattle's offseason.
Interesting. Gray doesn't impact the cap much, so I don't see a big push to convince him to retire.
Excellent. Good to see that once again Ruskell and I are on the same page.
...and from the PI
"We've been willing to offer up to Champ Bailey," Ruskell said. "They're up in another hemisphere.
Hemisphere? Anyway, I don't mind that Ruskell decides to frame it that way, but referring to a contract as "Champ Bailey money" is ridiculous. A player does not get paid Champ Bailey money, they get paid a contract comparable to the contracts of similar players at a similar position of similar perceived value, at the time of their signing. As Mike Klis of the Denver Post points out,