Seattle Seahawks set to hit ground running

Published on July 24, 2011 by     Tacoma News Tribune (Feed)

Seattle Seahawks fans agonizing over the four-month-old lockout take note – your team could take the field for training camp in a little more than a week.

Maybe.

NFL owners overwhelmingly voted to approve a settlement with players in Atlanta on Thursday, considered a precursor to the two sides ultimately agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement.

That group included a Seattle contingent led by owner Paul Allen and CEO Peter McLoughlin. Sea-hawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll stayed in Seattle, ready to begin operations if given the green light.

But the duo will have to wait a few days.

After a Thursday evening conference call, players did not vote on the deal, stating a need for more time to review the 500-page document. Players appear to have a problem with ancillary issues they believe were not negotiated between the two parties.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Seahawks’ defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, one of Seattle’s soon-to-be free agents. “I’m anxious to get it resolved, but you also have to get it right. It’s like when you buy a car, you have to read over the papers so if you get into a lease agreement, you know what you’re signing.

“But as far as my personal situation, it’s a blessing. I really would like to know where I stand as a free agent and what’s going to happen.”

Said Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson via Twitter: “Why is it all of a sudden pressure on us?? THEY LOCKED US OUT! Lol.”

Once approved by the players, the new agreement would allow the Seahawks to open their doors and resume contact with players as early as Saturday, with a tentative date of July 29 for the opening of training camp.

Currently, the Seahawks have 54 players on their roster, but that does not include the nine rookies taken during this year’s draft. Twenty-three Seattle players are expected to hit free agency this year.

A group of Seahawks player-personnel executives are in Atlanta and will be part of a seminar provided by the league to explain the new CBA rules today, including how to handle a new rookie wage scale and free agency.

The league is expected to allow teams to carry a 90-man roster – up from 80-man rosters traditionally allowed at the start of training camps – to account for increased player injuries expected because of a lack of organized offseason workouts.

With Seattle’s first scheduled exhibition game Aug. 11 at San Diego, Schneider and Carroll have a lot of work to do in a short amount of time.

First on the agenda will be a three-day window, tentatively set to begin Monday, to sign the team’s own free agents and bring in undrafted rookie free agents.

Meetings with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, Mebane and cornerback Kelly Jennings will be at the top of Seattle’s to-do list during. Seattle also has several undrafted rookies targeted that they would like to add to the camp roster.

Once the Seahawks are allowed to dip into the free-agent pool, positions they could address include quarterback, offensive guard, defensive tackle and receiver.

Possible targets including Minnesota receiver Sidney Rice, Oakland offensive lineman Robert Gallery, New York Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield, and several quarterback candidates who would compete with Charlie Whitehurst for playing time should Hasselbeck not re-sign.

The quarterbacks include USC product Matt Leinart, who served as the third-string quarterback for Houston last year, Minnesota free-agent Tarvaris Jackson, and possibly Philadelphia’s Kevin Kolb via a trade.

According to ESPN, the Seahawks have a projected $39 million in cap space, with the new agreement creating a $120.4 million cap number.

That means Carroll and Schneider have some money to spend in their second year of the team’s rebuilding effort.

Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@thenewstribune.com

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