A little Q&A

A week filled with activity (two trades, four signings and the release of a player) has only prompted more questions about the course of the Seahawks’ offseason. So let’s get right to it …

Q: Why are Seahawks going after a bunch of no-name players when there are a ton of big-name free agents? There is no cap in the NFL in 2010 and the Seahawks owner is worth $13.5 billion. Spend some money to win now, not next year or the year after that. – Will, Las Vegas

A: Most of those “big-name free agents” are older players who will demand larger contracts, Will. John Schneider, the new GM, believes in building a team through the draft and supplementing with free agents. That’s what the Seahawks have done to this point – adding a second tight end (Chris Baker), a bigger wide receiver (Ruvell Martin), a backup linebacker who is a special teams player (Matt McCoy) and a running back (Quinton Ganther).

Just because these are no-name players to you, they aren’t to the Seahawks. Baker was with the New York Jets when new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was coaching there. Martin played for the Green Bay Packers when Schneider was there. McCoy played the 2008 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was his position coach.

As for the cap-less year and the billionaire owner, that’s a scenario many have wondered about. But it’s like credit-card buying in that eventually there will be a salary cap and teams that overspend this year will have to pay the consequences. That’s why you haven’t seen teams go on spending sprees in free agency – with the possible exception of the Chicago Bears, who do not have a first-round pick in next month’s draft.

Q: Why is it that the Seahawks have not been as active in the free agent market this year? Or is there a possibility that they will still sign or trade for a big-name player? – Joe, Vancouver, B.C.

A: Your first question was basically answered in the previous response, Joe. But there’s also the fact that most in the league consider this a weak free-agent class, while the draft class is considered one of the deepest in years. That’s why also getting a fourth-round pick in the trade that sent defensive end Darryl Tapp to the Philadelphia Eagles for pass-rusher Chris Clemons was so attractive to the Seahawks. Remember, they don’t have a third-round pick because they traded during last year’s draft.

The Seahawks had wide receiver Brandon Marshall, a restricted free agent, in for a visit on the opening weekend of the signing period, and he remains a possibility.

Q: With Seneca Wallace out and Charlie Whitehurst in, why has everyone – even the coaching staff, it seems – forgotten about last year’s third-string QB Mike Teel? I feel he could easily be the replacement for Matt Hasselbeck, and yet nobody talks about him. – Joe, San Diego

A: No one has forgotten about Mike Teel, Joe. But trading Wallace to the Cleveland Browns and then trading for Whitehurst had little to do with Teel and his third-string status.

The Browns – and especially new president Mike Holmgren – were interested in Wallace because Holmgren could not live with the QB duo he inherited. That’s why Derek Anderson was released and Brady Quinn was traded to the Broncos. Wallace was drafted when Holmgren was the Seahawks GM and knows Holmgren’s hybrid of the West Coast offense. With Wallace out, as you put it, there was a need for a backup QB. Schneider and coach Pete Carroll considered Whitehurst a better prospect than the other QBs available in free agency, and they likely won’t have a shot at Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen in the draft.

The Seahawks see Whitehurst as a player who eventually can develop into their starting quarterback. Teel, meanwhile, remains a developmental player who played little in the preseason as a rookie and not at all during the regular season.

Q: With four tight ends already on the roster, and none of them a “typical blocking tight ends,” why push to pick up Baker? Not that he can’t be a producer, but John Carlson is already there. Anderson is on the market, and has made at least one Pro Bowl, yet the team tries to pick up a backup that requires a third-round draft pick that we don’t have? All the hype with Marshall, but requires a first-round pick. Other than Nate Burleson not being a part of the blueprint going forward, what direction is Carroll headed? – Matt, Beale AFB, Calif.

A: That’s several topics rolled into one seemingly frustrated query, Matt. Anderson, as you now, is no longer on the market. He met with the Seahawks, but signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The Seahawks liked Whitehurst better, and found a way around not having that third-round pick by making the trade with the Chargers to acquire him.

As for Baker, he is a good blocker and Bates had a lot of success running two-tight end formations with the Broncos in 2008 – when the duo of Tony Scheffler and Daniel Graham combined to catch 72 passes for 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns. The addition of Baker should free Carlson to be a bigger factor in the passing game. Remember last season when the line was having so much trouble providing protection for Matt Hasselbeck? The remedy was to keep Carlson in to help whoever was playing left tackle.

The loss of Burleson, who signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency, does leave a hole at split end. But the Seahawks have talked to Marshall and there are bigger receivers who should be available in the draft.

As for the direction Carroll is headed, he’s obviously not that enamored with some of the players who helped the Seahawks win five and four games the past two seasons.

Q: How is this new “pro style offense” different from the “west coast offense”? – Matt, Graham

A: The talk about the addition of Baker plays into your question, Matt. Holmgren’s hybrid of the West Coast offense relied heavily on three-wide receiver sets. Carroll and Bates want to run the ball more, and more consistently. By having two tight ends who can block and catch, it will allow the Seahawks to field personnel that makes it look like a run in the huddle, but can be used to pass or run.

It’s all about being unpredictable. One of the better personnel/formation twists used by Holmgren was to have two-tight personnel in the huddle, but then give a four-receiver look at the line by slotting the tight ends. Run? Or pass? The defense often didn’t know, even when the ball was snapped.

Technically, the West Coast is a “pro-style” offense, because so many teams in the NFL run it, or a variation of it. The “pro style” term has been used a lot in college football to differentiate it from the “spread” offense that is so in vogue.


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