Reinfeldt has limited time to get things done

While the Seahawks interview candidates for their president and general manager positions, former senior vice president Mike Reinfeldt has been brought in as a "consultant" and will be the main man to steer the Seahawks ship as the free agency deadline nears.

Reinfeldt took over as a consultant on Thursday to "fill in" while Seahawks ownership interviews candidates to fill the president of football operations post that was vacated January 14th when Owner Paul Allen fired then president of football operations Bob Whitsitt.

Even with his one year absence from the organization, Reinfeldt seemed to feel right at home at the team's Kirkland headquarters and hit the ground running.

"I came in late (Thursday) and looked through a lot of the documentation, and not a lot's changed," Reinfeldt said. "So it doesn't really take that long to get caught up. The deals that are expiring, I've done all those deals. I know all the agents."

As noted in his comment above, his first priority is signing as many of the teams' 16 unrestricted free agents as possible before the Free Agency period begins on March 2nd.

Most years teams face about half the amount of expired contracts as the Seahawks, but it isn't just the quantity of contracts that is daunting, it is also the quality of the players waiting for deals. Starting QB Matt Hasselbeck, Pro Bowl RB Shaun Alexander, All Pro LT Walter Jones along with three other offensive lineman (Robbie Tobeck, Chris Gray and Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack) along with DE Chike Okeafor, who led the team in sacks, and CB Ken Lucas, who led the team in interceptions.

The good news is that the team has a lot of leeway in regards to salary cap space ($28 million under the cap as of this writing) and Hasselbeck, Jones, Okeafor and Lucas have all intimated that they want to get deals done with the team. The bad news is that Alexander has openly opined about playing in Miami or Tampa Bay and the clock is ticking down to the midnight hour.

"It's a little tough because I think we've lost some of the leverage, or we're under the gun a little bit," Reinfeldt said. "At the same time, a lot of the players have gotten to the point that they kind of realize that the grass isn't always greener in other places. What we need to try to do is get some momentum going here, where we sign a couple of guys, and then other guys will want to be part of it, too."

Hasselbeck has even stated he wants to be the first to sign so as to set the tone for the other free agents. Reinfeldt has spoken with Hasselbeck's agent, David Dunn, twice since Thursday.

"It's nice to have him back," head coach Mike Holmgren said referring to Reinfeldt. "He's very good at what he does, and we have tremendous challenges this offseason in free agency."

Reinfeldt was a troubling loss last offseason when it was announced that he had turned down a contract offer. The reality is that Whitsitt allowed his contract to all but expire and then offered him a contract that featured less money because it was assumed he would take on a decreased role.

After Whitsitt was relieved of his duties in January by Allen, it became apparent that many of the representatives for the soon-to-be free agents got the feeling that there was no one at the helm to take over contract negotiations.

Allen and team CEO Tod Leiweke discussed the situation and decided they needed help.

Enter Reinfeldt.

After discussing the situation on Wednesday, Leiweke proposed the consultancy position with Reinfeldt over coffee that afternoon and by Thursday afternoon he was familiarizing himself with all of the expiring contracts, many of which he negotiated himself.

"It was something I had great interest in doing," Reinfeldt said. "I have great affection for the Seahawks and to be a part of that team effort and for everybody to collaborate together.

"It is an exciting thing for me."

When he was asked if there were any lingering hard feelings, Reinfeldt chose to look forward not back.

"It's more about going forward and what we've got to accomplish," Reinfeldt said.

Reinfeldt isn't the only one tip-toeing his way through the contracts, players and their agents. General Manager Bob Ferguson and director of player administration Jay Nienkark have also been talking with agents and they will assist Reinfeldt in the negotiations.

Along with several other candidates Reinfeldt is rumored to be in the running for the Seahawks' open president seat, but he isn't looking past March 2nd.

"I'm not sure where that search is, or where I would fit in it," he said.

Many fans and several team insiders would be very happy to see him drop that "consultant" title and take over as president on a full time basis.

Stay tuned.

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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