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Titans release Matt Hasselbeck

Jake Locker Matt Hasselbeck

Matt Hasselbeck is the most productive quarterback in Seahawks history. He’s also without a job today after being released by the Titans.

“I want to thank Matt for his contributions to our team over the last two years,” Titans general manager Ruston Webster said. “He was an important part of the transition process — he was a pro at every turn and he provided an example to the rest of the team. I know that we are a better team for his being here and we wish him the best.”

Hasselbeck, who was voted to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team, signed with the Titans in 2011 after the Seahawks opted against re-signing him.

“My time in Seattle means a great deal, because of how hard it was to really turn the program back around,” he said last summer in the story announcing his selection to the 35th Anniversary team.

Hasselbeck was referring to the 9-7 and 7-9 records in his first two seasons with the Seahawks before they went 10-6, 9-7, 13-3, 9-7 and 10-6 the next five seasons.

“Then, offensively were started clicking, and settling in on stuff we really, really loved and owned,” he said. “We had confidence in what we were doing and in each other. It was a pivotal time. After that, even the bad stuff that happened to us, we learned from it.”

Chris Mortenson at ESPN.com reports that the Cardinals, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Colts, Saints, Giants, 49ers and Buccaneers could be interested in signing Hasselbeck. “And list could grow,” he said on his Twitter account.


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The never-ending stories

If the Seahawks are preparing for their 37th season, why are there still stories on Seahawks.com about members of the 35th Anniversary team?

Blame it on last year’s 136-day lockout.

After having readers vote to select the 35th Anniversary team, the plan was to write a story on each member of the prestigious squad last offseason. Then came the lockout, and team employees were not allowed to have contact with current players. So the stories on Matt Hasselbeck, Steve Hutchinson and Marcus Trufant were put on hold.

I actually called Trufant the day the lockout would kick in, but he was heading to a workout at a local gym and asked if I could call him back a couple of hours. Before I could do it, the lockout had begun.

Once the lockout ended, the pace of training camp was just too hectic to try and track them down – Hasselbeck in Tennessee; Hutchinson in Minnesota; and Trufant in, well, the locker room downstairs at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

So, the story on Hasselbeck currently is featured on the website, and also serves as a preview for Saturday night’s preseason opener against the Titans at CenturyLink Field. Hutchinson signed with the Titans in free agency in March. His story ran in late June, and you can read it here. Look for Trufant’s story next week.

Sorry for the delay, but hopefully you think the wait was with it.


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Cyber surfing: Tuesday

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks for today, July 19:

 

Mike Sando at ESPN.com dips into his mailbag and addressed the pros and cons of the Seahawks re-signing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Sando on why the Seahawks should retain Hasselbeck: “The shortened offseason will make it tougher for teams to install new schemes. Hasselbeck worked previously under Seattle’s new coordinator, Darrell Bevell. He could step in quickly and run the offense. The team has taken steps to upgrade its ground game. As the playoff game against New Orleans showed, Hasselbeck can still play at a high level when backed by a strong running game. And it’s not like Seattle will find a long list of superior options available once the signing period opens. The Seahawks might as well keep Hasselbeck until they have someone better. Hasselbeck should finish his career in Seattle, anyway.”

Sando on why the Seahawks should go in another direction: “Why stick with a 35-year-old quarterback during a rebuilding phase? (Charlie) Whitehurst ideally would have played more last season. He was 1-1 as a starter and hasn’t had a fair chance. The Seahawks gave Hasselbeck additional chances after shaky moments early in his career. Besides, Hasselbeck has the NFL’s lowest passer rating since 2008 among the 19 quarterbacks with at least 35 regular-season starts during that time, according to Pro Football Reference. Hasselbeck’s rating during that time is 71.4, more than 10 points lower than Carson Palmer’s rating, which ranks 18th among the 19 quarterbacks.”

 

Eric Williams of the News Tribune takes a closer look at safety Mark LeGree, the Seahawks’ fifth-round choice in April’s NFL Draft. Says Williams: “If you’re looking for a comparison, think about what Ryan Clark does for Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh, serving as a safety valve for the talented USC product to play instinctive football, and I think you get an idea of what LeGree could do in Seattle.”

 

Danny O’Neil at the Seattle Times is taking at look at the NFC West teams, with an assist from beat writers around the division. Here’s a look at the Arizona Cardinals by Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

Says Somers: “Both impending doom and great opportunity await the Cardinals when the lockout ends. The team needs a starting quarterback. Its three interior offensive linemen are un-signed as is starting receiver Steve Breaston. Most of the “star” defensive players are coming off disappointing seasons, a factor in Ken Whisenhunt’s decision to hire Ray Horton as his third defensive coordinator in five seasons. Horton, a disciple of Steelers’ coordinator Dick LeBeau (and former Washington Husky), will bring that high-pressure philosophy to the Cardinals. But that effort has been hampered by the lockout. Many of the key players have the defensive playbook, but they haven’t worked on it as a unit.  The Cardinals needed a full offseason as much as any other team in the NFL. Plans to acquire a new quarterback have been on hold, and the team is going to have to move quickly to find one. Look for the club to immediately attempt to trade for Eagles backup Kevin Kolb. He is the first choice, but the Cardinals don’t want to give up a ransom for him. They also have interest in the Broncos’ Kyle Orton, who is under contract. The path of least resistance would be to simply sign Marc Bulger, a free agent, and let John Skelton back him up.”

 

Neither Russell Okung nor Earl Thomas made the ESPN.com Dream Team of Tomorrow. They were the only Seahawks up for consideration, but Thomas lost out to the Chiefs’ Eric Berry at free safety and the tackle spots went to the Dolphins’ Jake Long and the Browns’ Joe Thomas rather than Okung.

 

Michael Fabiano, Fantasy editor at NFL.com, takes a look at the most-targeted tight ends in the league last season. The Seahawks’ John Carlson is conspicuous by his absence in the rankings, a definite indication that the coaches need to get him more involved in the passing game – as a receiver, not a blocker.

 

For the give-us-this-day-our-daily-labor-update item, Albert Breer at NFL.com is reporting that the days for this cyber-surfing entry could be numbered as the owners and players move closer to agreeing to new CBA. Says Breer: “The owners’ objective is to have a completed deal to vote on at their meeting Thursday in Atlanta. In a memo sent Monday to all 32 teams, the league said that if all goes to plan, it will stage a ‘labor seminar’ to educate clubs on the terms of the new deal, starting 90 minutes after ratification Thursday and continuing Friday at another hotel in Atlanta. Each team can have four reps, plus its owner, at that meeting”.

 

But Jason LaCanfora, Breer’s colleague at NFL.com, breaks down the issues that still need to be resolved for that vote to actually take place on Thursday.

 

Here at Seahawks.com, we continue of series of articles profiling the members of the 35th Anniversary team with Kenny Easley – the Hall of Fame-caliber strong safety who didn’t play long enough to get his bust in the Hall. Yet. Easley admits he wasn’t expecting to play for the Seahawks, and didn’t want to play the position he redefined.

 


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A Hall pass for Easley?

Kenny Easley is in the Seahawks’ Ring of Honor, was chosen to the franchise’s 25th Anniversary team and has been voted to the 35th Anniversary edition. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and four-time All-Pro pick. He also was voted NFL defensive player of the year in 1984 and named to the NFL’s team of the decade for the 1980s.

He accomplished all of this in a seven-year career. But something is missing, because the former strong safety played only seven seasons: His bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I think I’ve missed out on some recognition because I didn’t play as long as some folks think I should have played to earn the recognition,” Easley said on Friday, when he was in town to participate in the Jacob Green Charity Golf Classic.

He didn’t mention the Hall of Fame by name, but the meaning was as impactful as one of those shots he used to deliver with his heavily taped forearms. And that is exactly his problem, the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee has yet to honor Easley because his career is deemed too short – despite the fact that he redefined the way his position was played.

Perhaps they need to take a longer, closer look. As Bill Walsh, the late 49ers coach, once said, “He’d be a Hall of Fame player (had he played longer). Maybe he still is. He was that good.”  

Easley’s story is the latest in a series profiling the members of the 35th Anniversary team, which was selected by the readers of Seahawks.com.

“It’s a great honor and I’m happy that the fans feel that, having gone through a number of strong safeties since I left, that old No. 45 was the best, so far,” said Easley.

That’s a great point. Since Easley was forced to retire after the 1987 season because of a kidney ailment, the Seahawks have started a baker’s dozen of players at strong safety: Paul Moyer (1988), Nesby Glasgow (1989-90), Robert Blackmon (1990-96), Bennie Blades (1997), Jay Bellamy (1997-98), Darryl Williams (1999), Kerry Joseph (2000), Reggie Tongue (2000-03), Terreal Bierria (2004), Michael Boulware (2004-06), Jordan Babineaux (2006), Deon Grant (2007-09) and Lawyer Milloy (2010).

Unless someone steps up and does Easley-like things in an Easley-like way, the chances are very good that Easley will be on the next anniversary team that is selected, as well.


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He went Galloway

When it came time to vote for the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team, Joey Galloway finished a distant fifth in the balloting. Obviously, it wasn’t a footrace.

The speedy Galloway collected 941 votes – well behind Steve Largent (5,004), Brian Blades (3,487) and Bobby Engram (2,254), who made the team; and Darrell Jackson (1,388), who didn’t.

Maybe it was because Galloway spent only 4½ seasons with the Seahawks after being their first-round draft choice in 1995. Maybe it was because he helped orchestrate his way out of town by holding out until midway through the 1999 season.

But there was no denying Galloway’s big-play capabilities. Doing research for the story on the Seahawks’ 1995 season only rekindled – and reinforced – that fact. As a rookie, he broke an 86-yard touchdown run on a reverse off of a reverse; added a 59-yard TD catch; and capped it all with an 89-yard punt return for a TD. Galloway also became only the 10th rookie in NFL history (at the time) to surpass 1,000 receiving yards (1,039), and the first since 1986. He also set club rookie records for receptions (67), yards and 100-yard games (three).

Before Galloway called it a Seahawks career, he had added punt returns for touchdowns of 88 and 74 yards; TD catches of 81, 70, 65 and 53 yards; and also broke non-scoring runs of 51 and 44 yards.

With Galloway, it wasn’t all about his speed. But any discussion of his talent started with his speed.

As then-Jacksonville QB Steve Beuerlein put it after Galloway burned the Jaguars for three touchdowns during his rookie season: “Speed evokes fear and respect. A lot of times when you see a speed receiver, they’re kind of limited in what they can do as far as routes are concerned. They don’t have those good feet in terms of changing directions, making the cuts, making different routes work for them.

“Joey Galloway seems to have that combination of great feet and speed. That really scares a defense. As you saw, it can hurt you real quick.”

Galloway also kept on giving even after he was traded to the Dallas Cowboys on Feb. 12, 2000. Then-GM/coach Mike Holmgren got a pair of first-round draft choices for Galloway, picks that turned into Shaun Alexander (2000) and Koren Robinson (2001).


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The Engram-Springs connection

Shawn Springs and Bobby Engram were Seahawks teammates for two seasons (2002-03), and are again on the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team – Springs as the nickel back, Engram as the slot receiver.

They even played against each other after Springs signed with the Washington Redskins in 2004.

But their relationship is even older than that. Much older.

“We go way back,” Engram said. “I hosted Springs when he came to Penn State on his (recruiting) visit.”

That was in 1993, when Springs was a highly recruited all-state player from Springbrook High School in Maryland and Engram was a sophomore-to-be for the Nittany Lions. But Springs opted to go to Ohio State.

“I guess I didn’t do a good enough job,” cracked Engram, now an offensive assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers.

Reminded of that, Springs matched Engram crack for crack, offering, “I wanted to go to Penn State, but my dad didn’t.”

That would be Ron Springs, also an Ohio State alum and former running back for the Dallas Cowboys who died last month following a lengthy illness.

Well aware that the nickel back covers the slot receiver, Engram said, “I could take Springs. That’s a good matchup.”

Springs’ retort: “Tell Bobby he only had two catches on me when we played. He cheated every time we practiced against each other, because he just pushed off all the time.”

Despite taking these can’t-resist shots, there’s also mutual respect in this friendly rivalry that goes back to their college days.

“Bobby’s a good football player,” Springs said. “His footwork is incredible. The little things he did in games. He wasn’t the strongest, or fastest. But the things he did in games to get open were incredible. And the only way you would know it is if you’re a student of the game.

“He would cut you off, so you couldn’t catch up. He would give a little shove as he was coming out of his break. His footwork, body control and toughness were incredible. He was one of the few guys in the NFL I played against that I couldn’t get off his game. He would not waver. He wasn’t scared. I couldn’t intimidate him. I couldn’t get him to talk back. I couldn’t get him frustrated. He was just a rock, man.”

Said Engram: “Shawn is smart, a student of the game. He could make it tough on you. You had to come to work and make your plays.”

Springs’ story is the 20th in a series of articles on the players selected to the 35th Anniversary team. Engram’s story ran last month.


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Double-edged Blades

Brian and Bennie Blades had combined to play 18 NFL seasons and in 255 games. But the brothers who had been teammates at Piper High School in Fort Lauderdale and the University of Miami never had played together in the pros.

Until 1997, that is.

They were finally reunited when the Seahawks signed Bennie, who spent his first nine seasons with the Detroit Lions – the team that had selected the strong safety with the third pick in the 1988 draft. That’s the same year the Seahawks drafted Brian, a wide receiver, in the second round.

Bennie had pushed for this family reunion sooner.

“Bennie was trying to get me to come to Detroit after my first contract was up,” said Brian, who is older (by 13 months) but was always smaller (5-11, 190) than Bennie (6-foot, 221).

“But I told him, ‘No, I’m going to stay put, because I like it out here.’ ”

So it was up to Bennie to join Brian in Seattle.

“Once it got to the point where he was unwelcome in Detroit, it was a blessing that we had the opportunity to play at least one year together,” Brian said.

In the process, they set an unofficial club record: The only brothers to ever play for the Seahawks.

It didn’t last long, however, as a back injury ended Bennie’s time with the Seahawks – and in the NFL – after nine games.

As Bennie said during the 1998 offseason, “Some days I think, ‘Yeah, I can be a football player again.’ But other days, I’m like, ‘To hell with this. Do something else.’ ”

But a little time together was better than no time together.

“We had fun,” Brian said. “It was a blessing to have both of us on the same team and have the opportunity to play together in the NFL.”

Brian’s story is the 19th in an on-going series of articles about the 28 players readers of Seahawks.com voted to the franchise’s 35th Anniversary team.

And he made it in impressive fashion. Sure, Blades finished second in the balloting for the wide receivers – behind Steve Largent, who got more votes than anyone else on the team (5,004). But only four others received more votes than the 3,487 generated by Blades: defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy (4,172), left tackle Walter Jones (4,065), defensive end Jacob Green (3,990) and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu (3,539).


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For the love of Leon

Not long after the Seahawks’ 35th Anniversary team had been announced, the what-about-Leon sentiment started to surface.

That would be Leon Washington, and that would be because he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his first season with the Seahawks after being obtained last year in a draft-day trade with the New York Jets.

One problem: Washington went off after the voting had been completed, and readers of Seahawks.com already had selected Steve Broussard as the kickoff returner. One Broussard-backing factor: One season does not a 35th Anniversary team selection make.

Broussard, who played with the Seahawks from 1995-98, still ranks first in club history in career kickoff returns (165) and yards (3,900), as well as single-season average (26.9 yards in ’98). He also had a TD return in his final season – a 90-yarder of the opening kickoff in a 24-14 win over the Washington Redskins at the Kingdome.

Washington averaged 25.6 yards on 57 kickoff returns last season, when he basically won the Week 3 game against the San Diego Chargers at Qwest Field with scoring returns of 101 and 99 yards and later had a 92-yarder in a loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.

Washington’s time obviously will come. In one season, he broke the game, season and career records for scoring returns – which had been one, across the board. His 253 return yards against the Chargers broke the single-game record that had been held by Maurice Morris (231), and his 63.3-yard average in that game obliterated the previous record of 42.8 yards by Charlie Rogers. Washington also produced 1,461 yards for the season – roughly half the career total of 2,843 by Morris, who ranks third behind Broussard (3,900) and Rogers (3,214); and third on the single-season list behind Josh Wilson (1,753) and Rogers (1,629).

It was all after the fact, however. Or the voting. So Broussard is the man, and his story is the 17th in a series profiling the players on the reader-selected team.

But here’s a look at how Washington’s one-season efforts stack up in franchise history, and how he’s on course to likely displace Broussard on the next anniversary team:

 

Most kickoff returns, season

Player (year) – No.

Josh Wilson (2008) – 69

Charlie Rogers (2000) – 66

Josh Scobey (2005) – 59

Leon Washington (2010) – 57

 

Most kickoff returns, game

Player (year) – No.

Bobby Joe Edmonds (1987) – 8

Leon Washington (2010) – 7

Note: Washington did it twice, joining 11 other players.

 

Most yards gained, season

Player (year) – Yds.

Josh Wilson (2008)- 1,753

Charlie Rogers (2000) – 1,629

Leon Washington (2010) – 1,461

 

Most yards gained, game

Player (year) – Yds.

Leon Washington (2010) – 253

Maurice Morris (2002) – 231

Leon Washington (2010) – 222

 

Longest kickoff return

Player (year) – Yds.

Leon Washington (2010) – 101

Leon Washington (2010) – 99

James Jefferson (1989) – 97

Maurice Morris (2002) – 97

 

Highest average, career

(minimum 50 returns)

Player (years) – Avg.

Josh Wilson (2007-08) – 25.8

Leon Washington (2010-present) – 25.6

Charlie Rogers (1999-2001) – 23.9

 

Highest average, season

Player (year) – Avg.

Steve Broussard (1998) – 26.9

Charlie Rogers (1999) – 25.8

Leon Washington (2010) – 25.6

 

Highest average, game

(minimum four returns)

Player (year) – Avg.

Leon Washington (2010) – 63.3

Charlie Rogers (2000) – 42.8

Chris Warren (1990) – 36.7


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No. 50 and No. 97, where are you?

Remember the old TV sitcom “Car 54, Where Are You”? Maybe not.

It ran on NBC from 1961-63, and later in syndication from 1987-90 on Nick at Nite. It was about two Bronx cops – Gunther Toody (played by Joe E. Ross) and Francis Muldoon (Fred Gwynne, pre-Munsters) – who spent most of the show in their patrol car.

Well, we’ve spent the past few months looking for two of the players the readers of Seahawks.com voted to the 35th Anniversary team: No. 50, Fredd Young; and No. 97, Rufus Porter.

You obviously remember them, and for good reason. All they did between them is go to six Pro Bowls, lead the team in tackles three times and sacks once and generate 4,670 votes for the reader-selected team. Porter made it as an outside linebacker and the special teams player. Young was voted an inside linebacker and finished second to Porter in the special teams voting.

But we can’t find them. Despite repeated calls to a small directory of numbers. We reached disconnected numbers. Numbers that no longer are in service. Numbers that simply rang and rang, and then rang some more. Numbers where nothing happened after they were dialed.

We asked former teammates if they had contact numbers for them. We tried the sports information department at Louisiana Tech, where Porter’s son is a linebacker. We tried the Indianapolis Colts, the team Young played for after leaving the Seahawks. We contacted their alma maters – Southern University for Porter and New Mexico State for Young.

But still no connection. So, if you know the whereabouts of two of the best players in franchise history, let us know.

Regardless, enjoy the story of these two very-special players – the 16th in a series of articles featuring the players you voted to the 35th Anniversary team.


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On his terms

One of the best things about Robbie Tobeck’s 14-year NFL career is the way it ended: On his terms.

The veteran center not only knew it was time to walk away; he was prepared to step into the next phase of his life. Tobeck, who played his final seven seasons with the Seahawks (2000-06), is a partner in Griffin MacLean Insurance, hosting a Saturday morning fishing show on 710 ESPN and enjoying watching his sons play the sport that was such a large part of his life for so long.

“I knew I was done. I knew it was time,” said Tobeck, who has lost 40 pounds. “I worked at Griffin MacLean in the offseason when I played. After I announced my retirement (following the 2006 playoff loss to the Bears in Chicago), I went to Costa Rica and fished for 10 days. Then I came back and I was in the office that Monday.

“That was the transition for me. It was just boom-boom and here I was.”  

Tobeck is one of nine players voted to the 35th Anniversary team who was not on the 25th Anniversary unit – most of obvious reasons. His story is the latest profile of the players the readers of Seahawks.com voted to the 35th Anniversary team.

Here’s a what-a-difference-10-years-can-make look at the changes from the 25th Anniversary team that was selected by the Seattle P-I in 2000, starting with Tobeck:

Center: Tobeck over Blair Bush. Tobeck didn’t join the Seahawks until 2000. He is the only center in team history to play in the Pro Bowl (2005) and was the anchor in the middle of the line on the 2003-06 teams that won three consecutive NFC West titles and advanced to the playoffs four years in a row.

Guard: Steve Hutchinson over Edwin Bailey. Hutchinson was not drafted until 2001 and played only five seasons, making 68 starts – compared to 11 seasons and 120 starts for Bailey. But Hutchinson was voted to three Pro Bowls, and is the only guard in team history to play in the Pro Bowl.

Tackle: Howard Ballard over Mike Wilson. Ballard was a Plan B free agent addition in 1994 and started 74 games in five seasons. Wilson started 60 games in four seasons (1986-89), but on better teams. Ballard was not the same player who had been a mainstay on the Buffalo Bills’ Super Bowl teams from 1990-93, but he got 982 votes in finishing second to Walter Jones (4,065) among the tackles – while Wilson got only 46 votes to finish tied for ninth in the 11-tackle field.

 

Tight end: John Carlson over Mike Tice. Carlson was a second-round draft choice in 2008 and became the first rookie to lead the team in receptions since Steve Largent in 1976. Still, the voting at this spot was the tightest on the 35th Anniversary team – 1,898 for Carlson to 1,880 for Tice, who started 83 games from 1981-88 and in 1990-91.

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck over Dave Krieg. Hasselbeck was obtained in a 2001 trade with the Green Bay Packers, and has since broken Krieg’s club records for career attempts, completions and passing yards. Hasselbeck has been voted to three Pro Bowls. Krieg also went to the Pro Bowl three times, and had a 70-49 record as a starter (.588 winning percentage) – compared to 69-62 (.527) for Hasselbeck.

Running back: Shaun Alexander over Curt Warner. Alexander was a first-round draft choice in 2000, but didn’t become the fulltime starter until 2002. He went on to obliterate the club records for rushing yards (9,429) and rushing touchdowns (100). Alexander also became the first Seahawk to be voted league MVP in 2005, when he led the NFL in rushing and scored a then-league record 28 touchdowns.

Fullback: Mack Strong over John L. Williams. Strong joined the Seahawks in 1993, but Williams was just so productive during his eight-season stay – 4,579 rushing yards, No. 4 in club history; and 471 receptions, No. 3 all-time. Williams went to the Pro Bowl in 1990 and ’91, while Strong went in 2005 and ’06. Strong’s best seasons came after the 25th Anniversary team was selected.

Middle linebacker: Lofa Tatupu over Keith Butler. Tatupu was a second-round draft choice in 2005. While Butler ranks No. 2 all-time with 813 tackles, Tatupu is the only player to lead the team in tackles for four consecutive seasons and he also was voted to three Pro Bowls.

Punt returner: Nate Burleson over Bobby Joe Edmonds. Burleson was signed as a restricted free agent in 2006. He actually volunteered for punt return duties, and ended up as the career leader in returns (125) and yards (1,288) despite being with the team for only four seasons.