Seattle Seahawks

Seaplane gives way to sea change

Do you think the Seahawks brought the fancy seaplane in to take T. J . Houshmandzadeh away?

It’s more likely, these days, that the Seahawks have their own rapid-transit shuttle service to and from Sea-Tac.

On Saturday, alone, the Hawks not only trimmed their roster to the league-mandated level, but also confirmed the cutting of last year’s biggest free agent (Houshmandzadeh), traded for an offensive lineman (Stacy Andrews from Philadelphia), and saw their most experienced assistant coach, Alex Gibbs, resign.

Even for the ever-changing Seahawks, it was an eventful day.

Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that former team president Tim Ruskell lured Houshmandzadeh to Seattle with a huge contract and the full potentate treatment. Seventy-nine catches later, he’s gone from getting the red carpet to getting a pink slip.

As coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider continue to reshape the future of the franchise, it’s good to remember that the best time to really clean a house and renovate is when you move in.

Of course, the beauty of taking over a team with nine wins in two seasons is that it’s hard to argue when somebody – anybody – is shown the door. They weren’t making the team a winner anyway, right?

The devaluation of the prior regime’s talent continues – as if anybody needed further proof the team had subpar talent.

Shipped out are a first-round pick (Lawrence Jackson), a second-round pick (Josh Wilson) and now the highest-priced free agent (Houshmandzadeh).

Fans may fairly question whether this is churn just to make waves or is actually paddling in a planned direction .

It seems as if perhaps they’re operating on a theme rather than a specific plan: They want their guys. Guys who not only fit their vision of the Seahawks of the future, but who also share that vision. The catch phrase is that they want guys who “buy in.”

Of all the moves, Houshmandzadeh is the headliner, in part because he is guaranteed a $7 million salary this season. Whatever amount short of that figure he makes with some other team – and it should be a great deal less – the Seahawks will have to pay.

How do you go from being the prime free agent to being a guy who is paid millions to just to go away?

A few factors contributed: They drafted Notre Dame’s Golden Tate. Free agent Mike Williams probably revived his career more effectively than they could have imagined. Deon Butler continues to improve. And Deion Branch appears healthy for the moment and looks to be a decent fit in the scheme.

But really, I think Houshmandzadeh probably talked himself out of his job. Opinionated and never bashful about expressing those opinions, Houshmandzadeh also had offseason hernia surgery that kept him out of much of the training program.

Supporters say he was a great competitor. But a lot of times, he looked like a great complainer.

Late last season, he complained that everybody wasn’t giving it their best effort. I asked him if he, in fact, had given his best effort. He said there were some plays he didn’t give 100 percent, but excused it by saying it was common in the league. Probably true, but I doubt anybody fighting for his job at that point wanted to hear it. And I know fans don’t.

Let’s discard money as an element. The salary cap is not in effect this season, and owner Paul Allen still has plenty to go around. So, was Houshmandzadeh good for this team? I think he was a decent but limited receiver who was not a great guy to have around. Adios.

Gibbs departure is puzzling, coming just a week before the season. Initial word is that he’s burned out. He certainly looked energetic on the practice field. He may have gotten tired of trying to deal with the injuries and ineffectiveness on the offensive line. But now what?

We can only expect more change. I frankly question whether the Seahawks are better now than they were 100 or so transactions ago. But they are different.

And at least it’s getting to where everybody on the roster knows that if you don’t buy in, you may soon be bought out.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440, dave.boling@thenewstribune.com  

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