Jason La Canfora was on Mitch in the Morning KJR 950 yesterday and had some really interesting things to say about the Seahawks' situation at quarterback and specifically Matt Hasselbeck's chances of returning. La Canfora is a very highly respected sportswriter and generally doesn't go out on weak limbs with regards to rumors and speculation so I take the things he says seriously. When Mitch Levy asked him whether Seahawks' fans should be rooting for the lockout to continue longer because it means the odds of retaining Hasselbeck get better, La Canfora had this to say:
"I guess, yeah I can see where you're going with that, but I mean really, it's going to be his decision. The deal he walked away from, in my estimation, at the time was very fair, and is better than he's going to get on the open market. It was made clear to him then, that you know, 'we're doing this now, and if this doesn't work out, we can't guarantee you this same money will be on the table after the lockout.'
I think they've gone above and beyond to give him the Cal Ripkin Jr, or Derek Jeter treatment, and you know, be willing to extend themselves beyond what probably anyone else would do. But I think ultimately its going to be up to him, once the market does speak, to figure out if he can kind of take less than that original offer to stay in Seattle, or if he feels like he needs to go elsewhere."
Levy pressed him further on the idea that the closer you get to the season, the less likely it becomes that other teams will bring him aboard, ostensibly because he'd have to learn a new offense etc and so forth. La Canfora responded:
"(Teams) are still going to need quarterbacks. And all those kids that were drafted in the first round, everyone's saying 'oh they're ready to play' and 'Ponder's ready to start' and 'Dalton's ready to start' and 'Lockers..'.. No they're not! No, they're not, and they're not even close.
The fact that Matt has already mentored Locker for three years or so up there, the fact that he has ties to (Titans Vice President of Player Personnel Ruston) Webster, (Titans GM Mike) Reinfeldt and guys in that front office, the fact that they know he can come in and be the perfect caretaker for Locker and kind of gets the role.... and you know we'll see where the money's at. In my estimation, he's more of a $5 million guy, at this point in his career. If he can get more in bonuses, then you know, that number will obviously escalate. If he performs, great, but you know when I think of Matt Hasselbeck I think of two years, $10 million, $5 million base in each season. If he earns the right to stick around the second season, if he's healthy, if he's productive, then great. You put a lot of incentives in there and I'm not sure he's going to do better than that on the open market. There's not THAT many teams that need quarterbacks, especially guys just looking for a one or two-year bandaid.
When San Francisco went the Alex Smith route, I think that kind of really limited Matt Hasselbeck opportunities."
La Canfora continued on and spoke on the idea, brought up by Levy, that maybe John Schneider and Pete Carroll don't really want Matt Hasselbeck back anyway, that they'd rather go into 2011 with someone else.
"The (Seahawks front office) understand the relationship that (Matt) has with the fans. They understand the dynamic there. In my estimation, they've put out a better than market value offer, others may disagree, and you're right, they're going to explore Kevin Kolb, they're going to see what else is moving in the quarterback market, and I expect them to be one of the teams that make immediate calls to the Eagles as soon as this whole thing ends. But you know what? They may decide that Kevin Kolb's only worth a second round pick and the Eagles may hold out for a first round pick and they might not love the Marc Bulgers of the world. It might take too much to get a kid like (Matt) Flynn from Green Bay, who obviously has some ties to Schneider but if they're holding out for a second round pick, 'my goodness, we just traded two picks for Charlie Whitehurst.'
So I mean, you never know how this thing's going to play out. Who knows, maybe Tennessee doesn't step up for Hasselbeck tot he degree that some expect him to and now you're sitting there and you know, it's a marriage of convenience to some degree. It's just hard to say, but you know, Whitehurst is still there, they'd love to have some sort of developmental quarterback for the future, and someone to challenge Whitehurst to win games right now. Some would say that Kevin Kolb would maybe fill all those things, but you know Kevin Kolb also struggled at times last year and the bloom came off that rose a little bit more than maybe Kolb had looked a year prior, when the Seahawks were interested in getting him, back in 2009."
As usual, a really great interview by Jason La Canfora and he consistently impresses me with his knowledge of the Seahawks and their organization, being that he's a national writer based in California. A lot of times you'll hear ESPN, NFL Network guys spouting off about the Seahawks and think to yourself how completely off base they are about the FACTS regarding the Seahawks, not to mention their opinions. In La Canfora's case though, he consistently does a good job on that front.
And for what it's worth, I think he summed up the situation perfectly. The Seahawks offered Matt a very respectable contract, Matt didn't want it, and now he's going to test the market. I get the feeling that the Hawks are comfortable moving on without Hasselbeck at the helm but would still like to have him back if no other options materialize during free agency. It's up to Matt to decide how much money he's willing to take to come back and play in Seattle.
Check out the rest of the La Canfora interview for his take on the NFL lockout. He provides some good information on that front as well.