RENTON - Consider him a wanted man.
Matt Hasselbeck appears to have played himself back on the Seattle Seahawks’ roster for 2011 with his impressive performance against New Orleans last week.
Coach Pete Carroll was asked if he planned on re-signing the veteran quarterback once the season is over. Hasselbeck is in the final year of a contract that pays him $5.75 million this season. But his play has been uneven for a second season, finishing with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions during the regular season.
“Certainly it’s a big topic for us,” Carroll said. “Of course, we love what Matt’s done, and we’re going to do everything we can to keep him here. But we don’t know the time line, or how that’s going to work out, and all that kind of stuff. But it’s a big issue for us that we’re looking forward to. He’s had a terrific run for us, and we want to see what we can do to keep that going.”
Carroll went to say that he does want Hasselbeck back. And Hasselbeck has said he wants to finish his career as a Seahawk, so it will be intriguing to see what kind of interest he gets on the open market and whether money becomes an issue.
Hasselbeck is one of 30 Seahawks players who will be free agents once the season is over. But because of the way he played against the Saints, he’ll have some options now. Teams like Buffalo, San Francisco, Minnesota, Arizona, Carolina and Tennessee will be looking for veteran upgrades at quarterback. And few, if any, hitting the market hold the pedigree that Hasselbeck possesses.
Carroll’s comments are not surprising. With Seattle’s unlikely playoff run, the club fell from a projected top-10 pick in the draft to something in the mid-20s – a tough spot with which to land a franchise quarterback. And now that Stanford’s Andrew Luck has decided to stay in school, that quarterback talent pool is even shallower.
With the uncertainty of when a new collective-bargaining agreement will be reached, dealing for starting quarterbacks or bringing in a free agent will be more difficult. The Seahawks might be better served bringing back both Hasselbeck and reserve Charlie Whitehurst to maintain continuity.
The Seahawks also signed young quarterback Nate Davis off San Francisco’s practice squad to a futures contract for 2011. He could serve as a quarterback to develop so the Seahawks will not feel the need to force the issue and take a quarterback in the April draft.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Seahawks offensive tackle Sean Locklear, also a free agent at the end of the season. “I don’t even know if I’m going to be back, you know what I mean? So I can’t really worry about Matthew, to be totally honest with you.
“We’re all focused on the playoffs right now. Would we all like to be back? Of course we would. We’ve been here for years, so we have the familiarity of playing for the Seahawks.
“It’s the only team I’ve known. I’m assuming (Hasselbeck) would want to be back and I would love to see him back, even if I’m here or not, so we’ll see.”
SLOPPY SOLDIER FIELD
The grass – if you can call it that any more – at Soldier Field has come under scrutiny from Bears players over the past week.
Now 18 weeks into an NFL season, the playing surface is a disaster – a mixture of soft spots and sod that has been cobbled together to look presentable.
So while it will appear to be playable on TV on Sunday, it will be anything but.
“It stinks for both of us,” Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “It’s not going to be good for both teams.”
So the playing field will be level metaphorically, if not literally.
“They change (the sod) out a lot,” Bears quarterback Jay Cutler said. “Any time you’re going to change out the field in freezing temperatures, I’m not sure it’s going to really take hold. It’s going to be thick, and it’s going to come up a little bit and it’s going to be soft in spots.”
Players will be bringing multiple pairs of shoes with different types of cleats – molded and screw-in – to see which works best.
Linebacker Lofa Tatupu suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter against New Orleans and did not practice on Wednesday but went through a walk-through practice earlier in the day. Carroll said it looks very favorable for him to play in the game. Receiver Ben Obomanu, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first half against the Saints but returned to the game, practiced on Wednesday and is expected to play on Sunday.
Ryan Divish contributed to this report