Front-line price for third-string quarterback

SEAHAWKS: Hawks fork out picks, $10 million to land QB Whitehurst

March 18, 2010 

Three months into their tenure as overseers of the Seattle Seahawks' reclamation project, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider made a move Wednesday that will ultimately help determine how their time with the franchise will be judged.

The Seahawks reportedly traded for San Diego restricted free agent quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, a four-year veteran out of Clemson who has not made a regular-season passing attempt in the NFL.

And Seattle gave up a considerable amount for the seldom-used Whitehurst, who now appears to be the franchise’s quarterback of the future. The deal has not been finalized by the league, but according to a report from ESPN.com, the Seahawks agreed to swap second-round picks with the Chargers, giving up the 40th overall pick in the second round in exchange for San Diego’s second-round pick at No. 60. Seattle also gave up the team’s third-round pick in 2011.

Seattle relinquished valuable draft position for a chance to sign an up-and-coming third-string quarterback. According to the report, they’ll pay Whitehurst $5 million annually for the next two years. Whitehurst was extended a third-round tender by San Diego, so in order to obtain his services Seattle either had to sign him to an offer sheet and give up a third-round pick, or negotiate a trade as compensation. Seattle has no third-round pick in this year’s draft, so the team negotiated alternative compensation for Whitehurst.

Seattle outbid the Arizona Cardinals for Whitehurst’s services. Instead, the Cardinals signed free agent quarterback Derek Anderson to a two-year deal worth a little over $7 million to back up, or possibly compete with, Matt Leinart for the starting job left vacant when Kurt Warner retired at the end of the season.

Both Carroll and Schneider said they believe current starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can still be effective in the league. However, with Whitehurst in the fold, the clock appears to be ticking on Hasselbeck’s future in Seattle.

Hasselbeck is entering the final year of his contract, and will make a little over $6 million in 2010. He will be 35 in September and is coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro. He threw as many touchdowns (17) as interceptions.

Hasselbeck has had trouble staying healthy the past two seasons, and by releasing Deon Grant, trading Darryl Tapp and now trading for Whitehurst, Carroll and Schneider have shown they are not afraid to make bold moves in order to change the makeup of the team. Trading Hasselbeck may be another step in that process.

The Seahawks’ trade for Whitehurst is similar to the move the team made almost a decade ago to bring Hasselbeck to Seattle. In 2001, the Seahawks swapped first-round picks with Green Bay and gave up their third-round pick for Hasselbeck, then an unheralded and seldom-used 25-year-old backup to Brett Favre.

That turned out to be a good move by then-head coach Mike Holmgren.

However, Holmgren had more of a history with Hasselbeck than Carroll and Schneider do with Whitehurst, so there appears to be more risk involved with Seattle’s current transaction.

In Whitehurst, the Seahawks get a young quarterback who was trained under one of the best quarterback mentors in the game in San Diego head coach Norv Turner. The 27-year-old was a third-round pick out of Clemson, where he threw for nearly 10,000 yards, 49 touchdowns and 46 interceptions and a 60 percent completion percentage during a four-year career as a starter.

Backing up Philip Rivers and Billy Volek in San Diego, Whitehurst’s playing time in the NFL has been limited to mostly preseason games.

At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, the scouting report on Whitehurst is he has a strong arm, is accurate and moves well in the pocket.

Extra points

The Seahawks also signed Washington Redskins free Quinton Ganther, according to his agent. The four-year pro out of Utah played for current Seahawks running back coach Sherman Smith while in Washington.

eric.williams@thenewstribune.com

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