Mike Klis of the Denver Post writes that in the Seattle Seahawks' acquisition of restricted free agent quarterback Charlie Whitehurst from the San Diego Chargers, the Denver Broncos have an answer to their Brandon Marshall problem: Sign him, and trade him to Seattle.
The Seahawks are interested in Marshall, but not enough to where they'll sign him to an offer sheet and surrender the 6th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. ESPN's Adam Schefter and Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post/NFL Network have reported that the Broncos won't take less than that 6th overall pick for Marshall, but based on the Broncos' decision to not tender him at the highest possible draft compensation level, Denver is and always has been willing to negotiate compensation for Marshall.
Klis suggests that Marshall won't sign the tender until he's assured that he's being traded, and that the Broncos could take the second of Seattle's two first-round picks for Marshall, or could even take Seattle's second-round pick (now the 60th pick overall) and one of the Seahawks' two fourth-round picks for Marshall.
Another trade possibility is the Seahawks packaging their two restricted free agent interior offensive linemen, together, or separately along with a draft pick, for Marshall.
With the release of Casey Wiegmann, the Broncos are down to Dustin Fry, a 26-year old who has yet to start an NFL game, at center. Seahawks restricted free agent center/guard Chris Spencer's future in Seattle is at guard, but the Broncos may view him as a starting center. Seattle tendered Spencer, the team's first-round pick in 2005, at the "original round" level, but would likely accept a second-round pick for him. Adding a fourth-round pick may be enough to pry Marshall from Denver.
In addition to needing an experienced center, the Broncos lack depth at guard.
Rob Sims, a restricted free agent guard who the Seahawks tendered at the "original round" level (4th round compensation), has been told to stay away from the team's off-season workout program as they try to locate a trade partner. Sims is big, strong, and athletic, and could be a fit in Josh McDaniels' hybrid "Zone/Power" blocking scheme. With a 2010 draft class light on quality interior offensive linemen, Denver may view Sims as an appealing alternative to a fourth-round draft choice, and along with Seattle's second-round pick, may be enough to get a deal done for Marshall.
Where would that leave the Seahawks' interior offensive line?
One of Seattle's two first-round picks will presumably be spent on a left tackle, freeing up either Ray Willis or Sean Locklear to man one of the guard spots. The Seahawks also expressed interest in veteran free agent guards Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts, two players who have played left guard for Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs. If the Seahawks are indeed starting a rookie (Russell Okung, Trent Williams, Bryan Bulaga) at left tackle, Hamilton and Pitts would be ideal, short-term candidates to play between rookie tackle and second-year center Max Unger.
And for as much as former general manager Tim Ruskell ignored the tackle position, he did stockpile the guard position. The Seahawks have Mansfield Wrotto, Trevor Canfield, Mike Gibson, and Steve Vallos for Gibbs, Art Valero, and Luke Butkus to work with.
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