John Clayton is now on record saying that he's not optimistic that the Seahawks will re-sign Matt Hasselbeck. This isn't really a big surprise - I think a lot of fans, and even his most staunch supporters, have begun to resign themselves to the idea that he may get a better offer elsewhere and the Hawks won't match it. Whether Matt takes that theoretical deal or not is up to him, but it seems like if the Hawks REALLY wanted to keep him, they would have gotten the deal done.
Because he's a local hero and Seahawks legend, of course Pete and co. were going to publicly state that he's their top priority in free agency, but it's beginning to look like that may have been more out of respect and politic on the part of the Hawks' front office. Allowing him to hit free agency is a pretty big gamble if you really want the guy back, quite honestly. Especially considering his playoff performance, he could very well see some demand on the open market - there are several teams in need of a QB with a track record of signing free agent veteran QBs like Hass.
Here's what Clayton said on the Calabro show recently, regarding the re-signing of Hasselbeck:
I'm not optimistic now. I'm starting to think that it may not happen. It seems like they did put a good effort in, but they didn't come to the right number. And now it's put the Seahawks in a position where I think what'll happen is, if free agency would start -- and we all don't know when -- I think they'll let him test the market. And that could be dangerous because he could go someplace else. But at this stage I'd say the odds are now slipping away that Matt's going to be here (in Seattle).
He could go to Arizona, because I think Arizona's gonna be more of a team looking for a veteran quarterback," Clayton said. "I think he could be a candidate in Minnesota if they don't take Jake Locker at No. 12 because they want a veteran quarterback. Miami might want Matt in there to try to compete against Chad Henne. I think, as it stands right now, I think Matt's going to be given the opportunity to check the market and if the market's not there, I don't think they'll close the door on him. But anytime the player has the chance to leave, then he could leave.
John Clayton isn't exactly going out on a limb with this, but on the other hand, he's got a pretty loud voice in the football world and this is noteworthy. Hasselbeck's situation is a sticky one - both for him and for the fans. The odds that he'll rejuvenate his career and his numbers are against him. 35/36 year old quarterbacks, in general, will continue on a downward trend statistically, one he's been on the last few years. If he is resigned, he could end up getting benched in favor of a younger, project QB or a FA they bring in via trade- whoever that may be, and go the way of Todd Collins and Jake Delhomme. That's not a great situation for any QB, but especially not for one so revered here in Seattle.
Part of me wonders if this is exactly Pete's thinking. If the Hawks let him walk now, he leaves a hero to most fans, despite his shaky play the last few seasons, and he ended 2010 on a pretty high note. Pete walks a fine line bringing him back and then being forced to bench him in a public and embarrassing fashion if his play declines.
Of course, there's always the chance that Matt will buck the downward trend and experience a renaissance in 2011, and the Hawks will look like geniuses for bringing him back. It's something the Hawks will have to weigh carefully - but the reasoning for bringing him back here to finish his career in Seattle must be thought out fully - we'd love to see him return and play great and finish off his career a Seattle hero, but there's always the chance the situation ends up playing out tumultuously and disgracefully like Ken Griffey Jr's last season for the Mariners.
Jim Mora hosted a live-chat on the Seattle Times' website yesterday and had this to say about re-signing Matt:
I'd like to see them re-sign Matt just because I have so much respect for him and he's such an institution here in Seattle. But I think it's irresponsible as an organization if you don't address the future at such an important position as quarterback.
Mora's saying all the right things about Hass, but bringing a guy back because he's a Seattle institution and because you have a lot of respect for him is a dangerous proposition in my mind and we saw this with Griffey. There's no doubt that Matt Hasselbeck wants to start wherever he ends up. If the Hawks bring him back, it better be because they think he can and still gives them the best chance to win, period.
Part II will focus on this situation from Matt Hasselbeck's point of view and link to a recent interview you may have seen with Hass - and talk about whether it is in his best interest to come back here and what types of things he is going to take into account...