Somebody is not going to make it. There is a game of musical chairs going on at the quarterback position for the Seahawks, and either Josh Portis or Tarvaris Jackson won’t have a seat when the music stops.
Russell Wilson was just drafted in the third round and may find GM John Schneider cuddling up next to him at night. That’s how much of a man-crush the Seahawks GM has on his new QB. Matt Flynn is going to get $10M guaranteed in his contract, and won’t be going anywhere without getting a chance to see how he performs over a full year. That leaves Portis and Jackson.
Portis, it would seem, would be the obvious choice. He has never been active for an NFL game, and was an undrafted free agent a year ago. He shows enough promise that stashing him on the practice squad likely is not an option, but he’s probably not ready to step into a back-up role.
Jackson earned a ton of respect for his play last season behind a bad offensive line and with a major injury. He outperformed almost everyone’s expectations even with those obstacles, and there is every reason to think he could do even better this season given his improved health and improved line. He probably won’t get that chance.
Picture the quarterback competition come training camp. Flynn is the odds-on favorite given his recent contract, unknown ceiling, and perceived superior decision making. Jackson could give him a run for his money, and Wilson may even flash a time or two, but it would be an upset if Flynn is not named the starter.
Now imagine being a player on the team who walks into the locker room each day and sees Jackson. This was their starter and captain last season, and now he is holding a clipboard. Say what you want about the NFL being a business, that’s a hard situation for all involved. Jackson feels like a leper, and his teammates can’t really help.
Add to that the questions Pete Carroll will face if Flynn falters in the first few games. We’ve all seen how quickly quarterback controversies develop, and how unproductive they are. Flynn can compete for the starting role, but should have the chance to grow into it if he does win the competition.
A quarterback trio of Flynn, Wilson and Portis gives the front office three potential future franchise quarterbacks instead of just two. Jackson is mostly a known quantity. He can be better, but greatness seems out of his reach. Would you rather risk letting Portis walk and developing into something great for another team, or letting Jackson walk and risk losing more games should Flynn get injured? The Seahawks remain one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and it’s biggest remaining question is at quarterback. Having three rounds in the chamber would seem to be a wise move.
The other benefit to letting Jackson go, outside of obvious things like money, is that it would allow for Wilson or Portis to earn back-up reps and the preparation that goes along with it. Running the scout team is a great way to learn NFL offenses and develop chemistry with other young offensive players.
A more harmonious locker room, a better situation for your new starting quarterback, and the chance to develop two young players makes it probably that Jackson has played his last game in Seattle.