A week ago, I felt like the market demand would dictate the timing and signing of Seahawk quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. However, as I have watched the Senior Bowl practices, poured over the free agent lists, evaluated trade opportunities, and pondered the underclassmen eligible for the draft in April, I really believe the Hawks don’t want to let the most productive quarterback in franchise history hit the free agent market.
I believe that is why Pete Carroll was adamant at his season-ending press conference that resolving the quarterback situation is priority number one for himself and John Schneider. It is why he said he viewed Matt as a starter, and why the first meeting following their last team meeting was a sit-down with #8 to lay out their future plans.
Now whether those future plans fit within the confines of a contract that works for both parties, the following days and/or weeks will tell. Add in the uncertainty of the NFL labor agreement, organizations not knowing what the new terms and restrictions will be under a new salary cap, and one can understand why the Seahawks are hesitant to lock into a multi-year deal.
David Dunn, Matt Hasselbeck’s agent, on the other hand, wants his 35-year-old quarterback to take full advantage of a market thirsty for a West Coast QB who could step into multiple opportunities across the league and elevate a franchise (i.e. Minnesota, San Francisco and Arizona to name just a few). Why would Dunn want Hasselbeck to settle for a one year guarantee now, when he knows many of those teams will seek his client’s services the minute they are allowed to weigh in on the negotiation.
I think the middle ground is a two year guaranteed deal, with the third year allowing for guaranteed money if Hasselbeck hits some very lofty incentives (playoffs, Pro Bowl, etc). A deal structured in this way would still allow the organization to draft any quarterback they desire this April, which I think is a must. A short term deal with a young quarterback in the fold will also continue to push and sharpen the old pro.
In fact, we saw Matt at his best in 2010 when pushed and challenged. Whether it was the off-season, when the competition was open with Charlie Whitehust, and #8 was the runaway winner. Whether it was returning from a concussion to throttle Arizona on the road, or play through a broken wrist the next week and throw for 366 yards and two touchdowns at New Orleans. Whether it was Matt putting three turnover-riddled games down the stretch behind him to play the best football of his career in the playoffs. A playoff run that saw him throw seven touchdowns to one tipped interception, and had his teammates simply caught the ball in Chicago Qwest Field may very well have had another seismic event.
It’s funny to look back six years ago when these two sides were last at the negotiating table. Matt was a lot younger and fresh off his “Green Bay Playoff Proclamation.” A guy by the name of Todd Leiweke said after the signing in 2005, “We weren’t going to let Matt go. This guy had to come back for us to be effective.” Six years later, I still agree.
Lastly, I found this line in the same espn.com article that quoted Leiweke above very interesting and possibly foretelling: “Hasselbeck’s agent, David Dunn, said the deal was a product of ‘no less than 25 to 30 phone calls’ last weekend with the Seahawks.” I have to believe the two sides are once again doing a lot of talking, now we’ll just have to see if there can be the same resolution.