Question of Seahawks’ 2011 QB keeps looming larger

The afternoon stirred memories of the past.

Matt Hasselbeck’s 333 passing yards on Sunday was a reminder that it wasn’t all that long ago he was a quarterback in his prime for a perennial playoff team.

The afternoon also underscored the uncertainty of the future at that position.

Hasselbeck is signed only through the rest of this season, the Seahawks choosing to pursue an extension. It is the elephant in Seattle’s living room at this point, a question of pachydermic proportions creating so much attention that every game is referendum on Hasselbeck’s future, even the one he didn’t play this season.

This is the course the Seahawks have chosen by leaving the future of the most important position up in the air. Doesn’t mean Hasselbeck won’t be the quarterback next season, but it leaves open the possibility Seattle will look elsewhere. Could Hasselbeck return? Sure. Will Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb both remain in Philadelphia? Maybe not. Could Carson Palmer become available? Sure, it’s possible. Will Seattle pin its hopes on a draft pick? We’re months away from knowing all the alternatives available.

For almost a year now, the Seahawks have used uncertainty as leverage in their overhaul of the roster under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Nothing is guaranteed, everything open to competition. No one is entitled to a spot on the roster. Not someone who played for Pete Carroll in college like LenDale White. Not high-end draft choices like Lawrence Jackson and Josh Wilson.

But taking a wait-and-see attitude at quarterback is a little different. After all, it is the most important position. Look at what uncertainty has produced around the division. In Arizona, the Cardinals are 3-6 and Derek Anderson is on his second go-round as the starting quarterback. In San Francisco, the 49ers have now mustered back-to-back wins behind Troy Smith, who was not with the team until the week before the regular season began.

No team embodies the turbulence that uncertainty at quarterback can cause than Washington and Donovan McNabb. McNabb was reminted Monday afternoon, signed to an extension first reported as $78 million over five years by ESPN with half that guaranteed. On Tuesday morning, ESPN reported McNabb would receive $3.75 million if Washington cut him after this year. Sandwiched somewhere inside that news was a 59-28 loss to Philadelphia.

McNabb is just 13 months younger than Hasselbeck, and while Washington’s quarterback has a longer lineage of playoff success, McNabb also has more interceptions (11) than touchdown passes (9) this season.

What does Seattle do at quarterback? Opinions have become almost political the way fans are entrenched. Election season is over, but Seattle’s quarterback beyond this season remains the hot-button topic. If it’s Hasselbeck, when do you sign him? If not Hasselbeck, who?

The first significant acquisition of the Seahawks’ new regime was to acquire Charlie Whitehurst, a Chargers backup who had never thrown a regular-season pass. Whitehurst wasn’t signed to be the starter per se, but he was signed with an eye toward the possibility he could be. His performance has confirmed that he has a strong arm, but there are questions about his accuracy and a penchant for throwing ill-advised interceptions.

For now, Seattle has seven regular-season games remaining, a starting quarterback coming off his best performance since 2007 and a question at QB that’s only going to get more urgent as the season progresses.