Welcome to the offseason – for all teams except the Steelers and Packers, that is, as they continue to prepare for Super Sunday.
While it is an offseason that begins with some uncertainty, because the CBA between the league’s owners and NFL Players Associated is scheduled to expire on March 3, there certainly are questions to be answered.
So, let’s get to it …
Q: I’ve lost track, what do we have for draft picks for 2011? – Tarry, Barrie, Ontario
A: That’s understandable, Tarry. After all those trades, which were included in the 280-some transactions over the past 12 months, you’re not alone. The Seahawks currently have seven picks, starting with the 25th selection in the first round of the April draft. They also have their own picks in the second and fifth rounds. They traded their third-round pick to the Chargers last year in the deal to acquire QB Charlie Whitehurst. After that, however, it was a case of trade one/obtain one. They traded their fourth-round pick to acquire running back Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills; but added New England’s fourth-rounder in the trade that sent wide receiver Deion Branch to the Patriots. They traded their sixth-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers to acquire defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer; but added Detroit’s sixth-rounder in the trade that sent defensive end Lawrence Jackson to the Lions. They also traded their seventh-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles to acquire guard Stacy Andrews; but acquired another fifth-round pick from Baltimore in the trade that sent cornerback Josh Wilson to the Ravens and another sixth-round pick from Cleveland in the trade that sent QB Seneca Wallace to the Browns. They also could receive compensatory picks, which are awarded using a formula that accounts for free agents lost and signed the previous year. Those usually are doled out in late February or early March.
Q: What exactly is turf toe? – Josh, Edmonds
A: It is, obviously, an injury to the toe – the base of the big toe, to be exact; or the great toe, if you must. The injury got its name, Josh, because it most often occurs while competing on artificial turf. It is an acute inflammation of the tendon, often caused by a hyperextension. The injury can be treated with rest. But in the case of guard Max Unger, who was injured in the opener, the damage was significant enough that he needed season-ending surgery.
Q: How long does a player stay on the practice squad, and can they be moved or promoted during the season? – Marianna, Arkansas
A: A player can remain on the practice squad for the entire season, Marianna. But, as with the 53-man roster this season, the Seahawks shuttled players on and off their practice squad with staggering regularity. Twenty-five players spent time on the team’s eight-man practice squad and some were signed, released and re-signed – like running back Chris Henry, wide receiver Pat Williams and tackle Breno Giacomini. The Seahawks used the practice squad to add an extra body or two at positions where injuries to those players on the 53-man roster left them light during practice. They also used it to retain players that showed potential. Cornerbacks Marcus Brown, Kennard Cox and Josh Pinkard, guards Mike Gibson and Lemuel Jeanpierre, linebacker Joe Pawelek and Giacomini – all practice-squad players at some point – finished the season on the 53-man roster.
Q: Are there any plans to get a bit bigger at the cornerback position? – Hannah, Portland
A: Yes, Hannah, and in the entire secondary for that matter. The Seahawks added cornerback Walter Thurmond (5-11, 190) and safeties Earl Thomas (5-10, 202) and Kam Chancellor (6-3, 232) during the draft last year. Thomas started at free safety as a rookie, while Thurmond and Chancellor played situational roles. It’s not inconceivable that all three could be starters in 2011. They also added cornerback Josh Pinkard (6-1, 218) in free agency after the draft. General manager John Schneider said on the day his hiring was announced last January that he liked to play bigger on the corners. It’s one of the reasons Josh Wilson (5-9, 192) was traded. It’s also an indication that adding more – and larger – corners isn’t out of the question this offseason.