John Schneider and Pete Carroll could make another 300 transactions next season, but only one will have the undivided attention of the fan base. Everyone wants to know how the quarterback position will be handled. The primary focus for most fans has been the 2012 draft, and for good reason. Drafting your franchise quarterback is by far the best bet. Eight of the Top 10 rated quarterbacks in the NFL all were drafted by the team they are playing for now. It is clearly not the only way, however, to accomplish the task of finding the right player. Drew Brees, Matt Schaub, Matt Hasselbeck, and others, were acquired via trade or free agency. The following will be an attempt at providing a somewhat comprehensive list of possible moves, and counter-moves, the Seahawks could take to add additional talent to the quarterback position.
Before getting into the additions the team could make, it is worth reviewing the state of the position as it exists today. Tarvaris Jackson is under contract through next season, with a salary of $4M. That is roughly half what the average NFL starter makes in any given year. Jackson almost certainly enters 2012 as the starter. Carroll and Schneider have said multiple times that they believe in the “Aaron Rodgers” method of allowing young quarterbacks to observe and learn from the sidelines for multiple years before pushing them into the starting lineup. Charlie Whitehurst’s contract ends this season, and so might his career. He will not be back with the Seahawks, which opens at least one spot. Josh Portis, and undrafted free agent this season, remains on the roster. The expectation is that he will be on the team next season, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that the front office brings in two new quarterbacks, and allows them to compete with Portis for two spots behind Jackson.
Knowing that the front office prefers to allow their quarterbacks to ripen for a few years, and knowing that the team rookie contracts will come up for players like Kam Chancellor, Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, and many others in a few years, this team needs to start grooming their young quarterback this year. Waiting another season to find that player would put the team off-schedule. The Seahawks are fortunate to have such a great pool of young talent across the team, but that will go to waste if they do not have a championship-caliber quarterback at the helm within 2-3 years.
That said, let’s look at the different options the Seahawks could explore to address this position.
DRAFT – FIRST ROUND
Drafting a quarterback in the first round is a declaration that he is THE guy, or at least will be eventually. Coaches are made and ruined by these picks, but all must make them at some point.
Luck will be the No. 1 overall pick. Some are putting the cost of trading into that spot at four first-round picks plus a couple of second-round picks. Most don’t believe the pick can be had if the Colts end up with it. Surrendering that level of value for Luck would be in sharp contrast to a front office that prides itself on building through the draft. They are more likely to trade down that to trade up for that price.
Robert Griffin III
Things get very interesting after Luck is off the board. The Heisman Trophy winner is rumored to be heading back to school for another year. Assuming that is the case, no other player would be worth trading up to get considering Matt Barkley has already announced he is returning to school. If Griffin does enter the draft, it becomes more of a possibility that the Seahawks would trade up for him. The Rams, Jaguars, and Vikings are likely to pick 2-4, and none of them will draft a quarterback. Each team has many needs, and would likely welcome two first-round picks and a second and fourth to slide back 6-8 spots. The Seahawks can finish with anywhere between the 10th and 19th pick. Remember, the Falcons moved up 21 spots to get Julio Jones last season, and that cost them two firsts, one second, and two fourths. It can be done. Still, trading up goes against this team’s philosophy, so don’t hold your breath.
No player’s stock has fallen farther. Once, projected as a Top 10 pick, Jones is now in the second round of most mock drafts and is rumored to be returning to school. He’s got a nice arm, but he’d be a project and not an obvious fit in this offense.
Foles reminds me a little of Blaine Gabbert. He can make some great throws, but there are questions about his ability to run a pro-style offense. He is an unlikely first-round pick, but considering the run on QBs last year and the players pulling themselves out of the mix this year, Foles could benefit.
I have never seen Tannehill play, so it’s impossible to provide useful info here. Rob Rang has him as the #4 QB prospect, and folks like Brock Huard have said he has the kind of moxie and athleticism to be a possible fit for Seattle. Some project him as a first-rounder.
That’s about it for first-round possibilities as this point. Griffin and Tannehill seem like the biggest possibilities.
DRAFT – ROUNDS 2-7
Picking a player after the first round still leaves open the possibility of finding another guy. It’s a silly black & white distinction, but it is true. There are a long list of quarterbacks that could be taken. You can find draft scouting reports all over the place, so this list will just be a few that are worth discussion.
Moore is getting some hype as a poor-man’s Drew Brees. He’s a career winner who is known to be an accurate passer. His measurables will put him in rounds 4-6, but the scarcity of quarterbacks could see him rise as high as the third. I’d be disappointed if Moore was the only quarterback the Seahawks drafted, but he’d be an ideal second quarterback to bring in and create a scrum with Portis and a higher-round draft pick.
Weeden is 28. Not interested.
Cousins is ranked #6 on Rang’s quarterback rankings, but has not been impressive when I have watched him. He seems like a guy who could be a career back-up or limited starter. Not interested.
Others who will get mentioned: Ryan Lindley Russell Wilson Case Keenum
These are all players who are worth consideration as the second quarterback taken by the Seahawks, but would be major disappointments if they were the only quarterback added.
Flynn is 26, and unless Schneider is certain he is a better starter than Jackson, bringing him in does not make a ton of sense. Some team is likely to decide Flynn is their starter. He will require a contract considerably more expensive than Jackson’s $4M. The guy has started one game. It seems risky and costly to bring him in, and not a great fit for Flynn either.
If the Seahawks wanted Orton, they could have made a waiver claim on him to get a look this season. Jackson was playing with half-a-pec, and the team still had playoff aspirations. There is no indication the front office likes what Orton has to offer. For what it’s worth, I think he’s an upgrade over Jackson, even though he is going to be 30 next year.
Smith will be looking for a starting quarterback position, and far more coin than Jackson’s $4M, without having far more talent. Not a likely move for Seattle.
Young would be an interesting possibility if he could be signed to backup money. Carroll has a ton of respect for his abilities, and Young has not performed well enough subbing for Michael Vick to earn a starter’s payday. He does flash potential, and could push Jackson. The biggest downside is his age (will be 29 next year).
Dixon remains an intriguing option. He’s only 26, and is incredibly athletic. He’s stuck behind Roethlisberger, but has potential. He started one game this season against Atlanta and completed 70% of his passes for over 9 yards per attempt. He’d be a great “add to the pile” sort of addition that could potentially be had for an non-guaranteed contract.
Daniel is a restricted free agent who will never see the field behind Drew Brees. He’s short, at only 6’0″, but is highly regarded by some. He’s 25, and has been tutored by one of the best. Might be worth a sniff.
Henne is 26, and is talented enough to be have already started a bunch of games. He has never, however, managed to throw for more touchdowns than interceptions in a season. The upside does not seem to be there with Henne to warrant taking a flier on him.
Quinn is already 27, and has never completed more than 53% of his passes in a year. His career passer rating is 66.8. The age and track record make him a waste of money for what the Seahawks are looking for.
This section is pure speculation, but also may provide some of the more interesting possibilities.
The Vikings could become enamored with Robert Griffin III is he comes out, and decide to move Ponder. They went to Joe Webb late in the year. Ponder is a smart player, who is just 23. He’s a more interesting prospect than nearly all of the players available in the draft this year.
Same story could happen with Jacksonville, especially since Gabbert was a major disappointment in his rookie season. Gabbert played with the worst wide receiving corps in the NFL on a terrible team. It is entirely possible that he could grow given time and a chance to develop behind a veteran. He would also be a potentially cheap addition given you would be buying low.
There is a chance the Rams get the first pick in the draft. If they do, they will decide between a windfall for Andrew Luck or a small fortune for Sam Bradford. They may go with Luck. The chances the team would trade within the division are slim-to-none, but they might see it as a chance to gut the team’s draft choices.
Same story here. McCoy is 25, and was picked by Mike Holmgren to be their franchise QB. He has been mediocre so far, but might be exactly the type of player Carroll envisions building his offense around. McCoy can make plays with his legs and is a heady player.
Cassell is 29, and had a down year after sporting a 27/7 TD-to-Interception ratio a year ago. Bringing in a veteran like Cassell might not make a ton of sense, but the Chiefs could be looking to off-load him under new management.
Sanchez has been a relentlessly mediocre regular season quarterback who has played well in the post-season. Carroll obviously knows him well, and he’s only 25. New York is not a patient fan base, and the Jets are now struggling to make the playoffs. It is possible they could decide to build anew.
Manning is coming off a career-threatening neck injury. If he is healthy enough to play, he would make the Seahawks contenders right away, but it seems highly unlikely the Colts would part with him, or that a team would be confident enough in his health to give up much to get him.