What started out as the NFL Draft quickly turned into a weekend-long football version of “Let’s Make a Deal” for the Seahawks.
That, of course, means club president Tim Ruskell stepped into the role of Monte Hall while orchestrating a trio of trades that would have made the host of the old TV game show envious.
Despite trading out of and then back into the second and third rounds, the Seahawks emerged with players that filled their biggest needs on each side of the ball in Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry (first round) and Oregon offensive lineman Max Unger (second round).
Every move seemed to produce just what the club wanted.
“I’d like to tell you it was that smooth and easy, but there was some hair pulling and ‘Should we do this?’ ” Ruskell said Sunday after the team had made the last of its seven picks.
“There was angst on all of it, but we were very happy once we did the deals and (with) the players that we got.”
After the first two picks, the Seahawks added Penn State wide receiver Deon Butler (third round), Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel (sixth round) and a trio of late seventh-round picks – Rutgers safety Courtney Greene, Oregon pass-rusher Nick Reed and Cal tight end Cameron Morrah.
They just didn’t go about it in the traditional manner.
The wheelin’-’n-dealin’ Ruskell first traded out of the second round on Saturday, giving up the 37th pick for the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick in next year’s draft. Then, he traded back into the round when Unger – a player the Seahawks had targeted at 37 – was still available at 49. The move cost the Seahawks their third- and fourth-round picks.
The next move was getting back into the third round on Sunday to get Butler, whose ridiculous speed brings an element that has been missing from the passing game and also makes him a candidate to return punts and kickoffs. That move cost the Seahawks three picks – fifth- and seventh-rounders this year and a third-rounder next year.
Ruskell also rescinded the $8.3 million franchise tag that had been used on linebacker Leroy Hill to free money under the salary cap. But signing Hill to a long-term contract remains a priority even though he now is able to sign with another team.
“The tag was put on originally to try to get a long-term deal done,” Ruskell said. “What both sides wanted to happen really wasn’t happening.
“I’m confident that this will probably hasten it, whereas the tag did not.”
Ruskell plans to continuing negotiating with Hill’s agent. But there is the possibility that he signs with another team.
“We would not have done it if we didn’t say, ‘You know what? We could handling losing Leroy,’ ” Ruskell said. “We don’t want to. They don’t want to. And we think we can get a deal done.”
Coach Jim Mora talked with Hill on Sunday.
“Leroy told me this morning that this is where he wants to finish his career,” Mora said. “I think he was a little shook up and maybe disappointed. But in terms of being upset or mad, no.
“He sounded motivated to get something done – get it done quickly.”
Greg Knapp can relate to being left holding a mixed bag of emotions. The team’s offensive coordinator went from despondent to delighted when the Seahawks traded out of the second round and then back into it.
“I really thought that Tim Ruskell and (VP of player personnel) Ruston Webster did an outstanding job of getting us a first-round pick next year and still we were able to pick up what our No. 1 need was on offense – and that was an interior linemen in Max Unger,” Knapp said.
“To be able to do that, and pick up another first-round pick next year, that was a heck of a move. That was really tremendous for this organization.”
All part of an unprecedented draft weekend for the Seahawks and Monte Hall, er, Tim Ruskell.
What the team ended up with are a mama’s boy, an artist, a Bobby Engram clone that also has what Ruskell calls “off the chart type of speed,” a quarterback who spent his draft day golfing and those three supplemental picks at the end of the seventh round.
Say what? Here’s an explanation on each:
The mama’s boy. That was Curry’s categorization. Who else could get away with calling the ripped 6-foot-2, 245-pounder that?
“I’ve always been a mama’s boy,” Curry said.
So much so that Chris Curry is accompanying her son to Seattle for Monday’s news conference, and plans to remain a big part of his life even though he is moving across the country.
“When I first started this process, she looked at me and said, ‘If you end up in Seattle, there better be a room for me in your house. If there is not a room in your house, there better be an apartment that is within walking distance,’ ” Mrs. Curry’s son recalled with a laugh.
“She wants to be able to put her hands on me whenever she can.”
The artist. That would be Unger, who was an art major at Oregon and already has graduated. The Seahawks became enamored with him in their prep work leading up to the draft.
They liked his take-charge demeanor, which includes a competitive streak marbled with toughness and even a tough of nastiness. They liked the fact that he played tackle before shifting to center. They like the fact that he could start this year, at center or guard.
But what about that artist side? What kind of art does he create?
“The kind you hang on the wall,” Unger said, jokingly.
The Bobby Engram clone. That would be Butler, who just happened to break Engram’s record for career receptions at Penn State. The similarities don’t stop there.
Butler (5-10, 182) is about the same size as Engram, who set the Seahawks’ single-season record with 94 receptions in 2007 but signed with the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency last month. Butler also has the skills to return punts, which Engram also did during his tenure with the Seahawks.
There is one glaring difference: Butler ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at the scouting combine in February (when one watch had him as fast as 4.28). So while the Seahawks did not get bigger at the position in this draft, they certainly got faster.
“I actually talked to Bobby,” Butler said. “I met him at the Rose Bowl, after I broke his record. He made it a point to come up and congratulate me, and told me that if I needed anything just talk to him.
“I definitely have been picking his brain a little bit. Not exactly about the Seahawks, but about the NFL in general. I have a good relationship with him.”
If only Butler can develop the same kind of rapport with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck that Engram had.
The golfer. That would be Teel, who decided to get some exercise Sunday rather than putting himself through the nerve-racking exercise of watching the second day of the draft on TV.
Did the diversionary approach work?
“A little bit,” Teel said. “I don’t think I played too well today, because my mind was on something else – the draft. It is a gorgeous day out here (in New Jersey), and it was nice to get out.”
The weekend turned out pretty balmy for the Seahawks, as well, after they emerged from their football version of “Let’s Make a Deal” with a mama’s boy, an artist, a Bobby Engram clone with speed and a golfer.
Not to mention two first-round picks in next year’s draft.