With NFL teams stuck in a state of limbo thanks to the lingering lockout, we are taking a tour around the league and looking at where teams stand as they await the opening of the 2011 league year. Today, we offer our take on where the Seahawks stand.
Top three story lines
1. Where do the Seahawks really stand with free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck? A few days after Seattle's playoff loss in Chicago, with the memory of Hasselbeck's strong postseason (7-1 TD-interception ratio) still fresh in his mind, head coach Pete Carroll said that re-signing the veteran signalcaller was considered a top priority. The team's tune appeared to change as time passed by, with Hasselbeck also seemingly becoming more interested in testing the free-agent waters. But the latest word is that Hasselbeck might prefer to remain in Seattle, where he and his family have become very comfortably entrenched. It still remains quite possible, though, that Hasselbeck could sign elsewhere and open the door for high-priced backup Charlie Whitehurst, who is on the books for $4 million in 2011, or the Seahawks could make a pitch for a veteran via free agency or trade.
2. Will Darrell Bevell, Seattle's fourth offensive coordinator in four seasons, and new assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable be able to assemble a more physical, run-oriented offense similar to Carroll's highly successful units at USC? Previous offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates was given a pink slip in great part due to his failure to establish a more successful ground game, and a much different-looking attack is expected with a lot more carries for RBs Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett behind an offensive line that will include rookie starters at right tackle and right guard in James Carpenter and John Moffitt, respectively. Cable, the former head coach of the Raiders, is considered a carbon copy of former O-line coach Alex Gibbs, who abruptly retired eight days before the 2010 season began. According to Carroll, the team's physical mindset was dealt a serious blow by Gibbs' departure. Cable, who hand-picked Carpenter and Moffitt, is being counted on to add some badly needed nastiness.
3. After making a mind-boggling 284 roster moves in their first season working together, will Carroll and GM John Schneider continue shuffling personnel like there's no tomorrow? While a much more stable situation is expected in Carroll's second season, he remains committed to perpetuating an environment in which constant competition is the prevailing factor. Don't be surprised if more than a few moves seem to just come out of the blue as Carroll and Schneider never stop scrambling to keep their troops a step ahead of the rest of the division. They won't hesitate to make moves if injuries force their hand in the same manner as last season, when both the offensive line (10 different starting combinations) and defensive line had particular problems staying healthy.
2011 free-agency — whenever that happens
Unsigned players: S Jordan Babineaux (7), DE Raheem Brock (9), DT Amon Gordon (5), QB Matt Hasselbeck (12), LB Will Herring (4), OLB Leroy Hill (6), CB Kelly Jennings (5), OT Sean Locklear (7), QB J.P. Losman (6), PK Olindo Mare (14), WR Ruvell Martin (5), LB Matt McCoy (6), DT Brandon Mebane (4), S Lawyer Milloy (15), OG-OT Chester Pitts (9), OL Tyler Polumbus (3), DE Jay Richardson (4), RB Michael Robinson (5), DT Junior Siavii (4), C Chris Spencer (6), WR Brandon Stokley (12), DT Craig Terrill (7), OL Ray Willis (6). [Editor's note: The number after a players' name is his years of service in the league. If the NFL decides to go with free agency under the same rules as used in 2010, then a player would become a restricted free agent after three years and an unrestricted free agent after six years.]
Analysis: Hasselbeck could be a very good fit in Bevell's West Coast system that puts a premium on short, accurate passes, but the same applies to a few other systems around the league he might still be wanting to check out. The Seahawks consider Mebane a key defender, but they are playing with fire by putting a mere third-round tender on a player who could attract some pretty significant interest around the league. Locklear and Spencer, both former starters on the offensive line, no longer appear to be in the mix. The same goes for Stokley, a dependable but aging option in the slot, and Hill, who has burned too many bridges off the field. Age is also a factor with Milloy, a 16-year veteran who is reportedly mulling over his future. The consensus seems to be that Milloy, who serves as a valuable coach on the field and with his locker-room presence, would be welcomed back for at least another season. Other likely keepers include Mare, who has said he would be willing to offer a hometown discount; Brock, a potent pass rusher down the stretch last season; and three very versatile well-rounded performers in Herring, Robinson and Polumbus.
2011 rookie class
First-round OT James Carpenter (No. 25 overall) — The Seahawks could have selected higher-profile tackles such as Gabe Carimi or Derek Sherrod, but Tom Cable took a particular liking to Carpenter, a big, durable product of the tough SEC who was proclaimed the starting right tackle without hesitation.
Third-round OG John Moffitt (No. 75 overall) — Like Carpenter, Moffitt is a nasty, physical road grader who is expected to step right in as a starter, at right guard. Moffitt blocked for one of the nation's top rushing offenses at Wisconsin.
Fourth-round DE-OLB K.J. Wright (No. 99 overall) — Wright is a raw but instinctive speed rusher who appears well suited for the elephant end role in Seattle's defense. He started on both the weak side and strong side at Mississippi State.
Fifth-round WR Kris Durham (No. 107 overall) — Put simply, Durham is a younger version of Seahawks WR Mike Williams with excellent speed for his size (6-foot-5) and sure hands.
Fifth-round CB Richard Sherman (No. 154 overall) — Sherman is a tall, rangy converted wide receiver. He possesses the solid press coverage skills that Pete Carroll covets, but he also had knee issues at Stanford.
Fifth-round FS Mark LeGree (No. 156 overall) — A three-year starter at Appalachian State with 22 career interceptions, LeGree has good ball skills and great range.
Sixth-round CB Byron Maxwell (No. 173 overall) — The third DB in a row taken by the Hawks, Maxwell lives in the weight room and figures as a solid special-teamer, in addition to adding depth to the secondary.
Seventh-round DE Lazarius (Pep) Livingston (No. 205 overall) — Livingston got the nickname "Pep" because of his nonstop motor. He is envisioned as a strong-side defensive end in the mold of converted DT Red Bryant.
Seventh-round OLB Malcolm Smith (No. 242 overall) — With speed to burn, the younger brother of Giants WR Steve Smith is expected to contribute in the nickel defense. Smith is very athletic but had an up-and-down career at USC.
Lockout fallout: How impacted will the Seahawks be by the work stoppage?
On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most significantly impacted), the Seahawks rate a 7. It's going to take some time to adjust to the latest new offensive system in Seattle. A lack of clarity at quarterback and a dramatically revamped offensive line with at least two rookies and one second-year pro (2010 first-round OLT Russell Okung) won't help matters. What should help is an increased comfort level in Pete Carroll's second season in Seattle after an often-chaotic maiden voyage.