Part of the reason coach Mike
Holmgren felt comfortable abandoning the running game last year and going primarily
with the passing attack was because he had receivers Deion Branch and Hackett
at various times to count on, depending on their various maladies. Both were players
quarterback Matt Hasselbeck felt comfortable with.
But with the front office making a new commitment to the running game with the
signings of Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett, it is a sign that perhaps the passing
game will not be stressed as much this year, in part because the Seahawks have
little experience at the position.
Yes, they have Bobby Engram, a 13-year vet who had a career year last season.
And they have Nate Burleson, who emerged as a big-play threat last year. But Branch
is likely out for at least the first eight games with a knee injury, and Hackett
now has Carolina on his mind.
Which means the Seahawks are going to rely on the emergence of one or two of four
players: Logan Payne, Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor or Jordan Kent.
The coaching staff loves Taylor, a second-year player from Auburn who has good
size, speed and hands. Obomanu also is from Auburn and has exhibited the ability
to get open.
Payne was so impressive in practices that the team signed him to a three-year
deal off the practice squad last year. And Kent is a former track speedster who
has breakaway ability but questionable hands.
When Holmgren goes to his three-receiver set, and Engram and Burleson are across
from each other, it will be up to one of the unproven commodities to make Hasselbeck
feel comfortable with his new corps of receivers.
--The Seahawks made a new proposal to cornerback Marcus Trufant recently, coming
somewhere between the $7 million a year it initially offered and the $9 million
a year that Trufant was asking in the wake of the Asante Samuel contract with
Philadelphia. The sides still have not come to an agreement, but Trufant's stance
will only be strengthened with DeAngelo Hall agreeing to a contract with Oakland
that will average around $10 million a season.
The Seahawks' stance all along has been that Trufant is not worth the type of
money that cornerbacks are receiving in today's market. But clearly this is
a new paradigm with contracts at the position, and Trufant became an elite player
when he was named to his first Pro Bowl last season.
In fact, one NFL personnel man who asked not to have his name used said that
Trufant was the top target on their free-agent list because of his attitude
and talent level.
--The Seahawks attended the Pro Day at the University of Texas recently, which
makes sense since the Longhorns have running back Jamaal Charles, tight end
Jermichael Finley and wide receiver Limas Sweed. The Seahawks have needs at
all three positions.
--Former Seahawks wide receiver Darrell Jackson was cut by the San Francisco 49ers last week. He was a favorite of Mike Holmgren. However, there is almost
no chance the Seahawks re-sign Jackson, who general manager Tim Ruskell traded
to the Niners for a fourth-round pick. Jackson wore out his welcome in Seattle
with a poor attitude and bad practice habits.
--Former Seahawks safety Michael Boulware, who the Seahawks traded to Houston
last year for defensive end Jason Babin, signed with Minnesota.
--When Brett Favre retired, former teammate Matt Hasselbeck was asked if he
had any stories about Favre being a jerk. He told about a time that Favre was
on the practice field before practice, and while special teams players were
running down the field practicing coverages, Favre was chipping golf balls over
their heads. A coach called over Favre, and the entire team thought Favre was
going to be chewed out. Hasselbeck, standing within hearing distance, said the
coach asked Favre, "What do you think of the game plan this week?"
--When kicker Josh Brown left the Seahawks for the St. Louis Rams in free agency,
he told a local radio station, "This decision was about winning."
The Seahawks have won four straight NFC West championships while the Rams were
3-13 last season.
--RBs Shaun Alexander and Maurice Morris both flew into Seattle recently to
meet with the coaching staff about their roles now that the team has acquired
T.J. Duckett and Julius Jones.
--The Seahawks hired Kasey Dunn as their running backs coach, the final hire
to fill out Mike Holmgren's staff. Dunn has spent the past 15 years as a college
coach, his last job as wide receivers coach for Maryland. He held an internship
with the Seahawks in 1993.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's all good." -- Shaun Alexander on his feelings
about his future with the Seahawks after they signed T.J. Duckett and Julius
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY
The Seahawks likely need to make a decision on cornerback Marcus Trufant, with
whom they are close on a contract but still have philosophical differences.
Trufant continues to have his argument enhanced because DeAngelo Hall became
the third corner being paid more than $9 million a year. Beyond that, the Seahawks
are up against the cap, and signing Trufant to a long-term deal will give the
team flexibility in free agency, where they still need to fill several positions.
1. Tight end: Starter Marcus Pollard is a free agent and will not be back. The team signed Jeb Putzier, but
he is projected as a third tight end. Will Heller is No. 2, which means the
team needs a starter. It is likely to address that need in the draft after losing
Alge Crumpler to Tennessee.
2. Defensive line: Rookie Brandon Mebane filled in admirably for the injured
Chuck Darby, who just signed with Detroit. The return of Marcus Tubbs is uncertain,
which means the team needs more depth at the position. Some mock drafts have
the Seahawks taking Kentwan Balmer in the first round.
3. Kicker: Josh Brown departed for St. Louis via free agency, meaning the Seahawks
have nobody to do the job. There are not many prospects on the free-agent market,
and there are not many in the draft. The Seahawks are likely to draft one in
the sixth or seventh round and then invite veterans to camp to battle it out.