Would Parrish Be a Fit in Seattle?

When news of the release of former San Francisco strong safety Tony Parrish hit the wire on Tuesday, Seahawks fans perked up their ears and wondered if the nine-year NFL veteran, and former Washington Husky, might be the answer to the Seahawks' need for secondary depth.

Seattle's front office looked to former Chicago safety Mike Green to fill that role when they traded their 2006 sixth-round draft choice to the Bears on April 25. Green played well in the early preseason, returning an interception for a touchdown in a 30-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts' second team on August 20.

But Green was lost for the season when he suffered a Lisfranc injury (a fracture and dislocation of the joint between the forefoot and midfoot) a week later in a loss to the San Diego Chargers, and Jordan Babineaux became the primary backup behind Ken Hamlin and Michael Boulware. As Boulware has struggled this season, Babineaux has seen some starting time.

Parrish has been an elite player at times in the past, and one need look no further than current Seahawks linebacker Julian Peterson to see how a player who may not fit in San Francisco's current defensive scheme (Peterson was publicly unhappy with Mike Nolan's 3-4 scheme in 2005) can thrive elsewhere. Peterson is currently playing at a Pro Bowl level for the Seahawks.

However, one source very close to the 49ers organization in a professional capacity has told Seahawks.NET in no uncertain terms that Parrish's situation is anything but Peterson revisited – he's not a player coming off an injury with a great deal more to contribute, as Peterson was after a 2004 Achilles tear. This source told Seahawks.NET that the 5'11", 210-pound defensive back might be closer to the end of the line than anyone would like. This individual has agreed to our use of this information based on a promise of anonymity.

"From what I've seen this year, Parrish is finished," we were told. "He was a great player - and I mean, truly elite at his position - during his first two seasons with the team in 2002-2003, when he was a tremendous ballhawk (he led the NFL with nine interceptions in 2003) who had the great instincts and solid range to make him the complete package at safety. He was aggressive and top-notch against the run, while often playing close to the line of scrimmage. He hurt people and was opportunistic in coverage.

"He still was one of the best players on the team in 2004 when the bottom fell out on the franchise," our source continued. "In 2005, he still was one of the best this team had, but I detected a gradual decline in his play until he went down with a broken leg in the team's ninth game, ending his string of 121 consecutive starts to begin his career. His injury was pretty serious - he had a spiral fracture of his left fibula, and also had ankle damage and another broken bone in that area. The injury was worse than originally thought (first diagnosis was he might be able to come back before season was over) and he didn't return to full work until training camp.

Parrish told our source that he was back to 100 percent when training camp started in 2006, but the evidence pointed to a different answer. Observations revealed that while Parrish looked pretty good through the start of training camp, the preseason games began, and it was apparent that he had lost a step.

"He just wasn't the same player, and once the season started, he became a liability in coverage and opponents started coming after him," our source said. "The 49ers tried to protect him in their schemes, but that wasn't going to work, and he never got better, while others soon passed him.

"He was in the last year of his contract with the 49ers and the team was hoping to get a full season out of him, since they're weak in the secondary - particularly at safety - but other guys were just playing better than him. He had a nice game off the bench in Week 9 against Minnesota, playing close to the line and recording a season-high six tackles. The next week, he played sparingly at Detroit. That was his last game in uniform. He has been inactive the last three games."

The truly unfortunate aspect of this news is that by all accounts, Parrish is a great person and a true team player who would add a lot to any organization. "He's a top-of-the-line individual who's a true pro and a great asset in that regard, and also a mentor for younger players and a leader-type that others look up to. The problem is, I don't think he can play any more. And that's all that matters," our source said.

"Maybe as an in-the-box safety, he could help the Seahawks. But I don't know. Teams would try to isolate him in coverage with running backs, slot receivers, etc., and I'm not sure if he can stay with those players any more."

In nine seasons with the Bears and 49ers, Parrish has 640 tackles, 5 sacks, 45 passes defensed and 30 interceptions. He had 21 tackles, no sacks, no interceptions and no passes defensed through nine games in 2006.

It remains to be seen whether the Seahawks will bring Parrish in for a tryout. Seattle's front office was busy enough today, placing RB/KR Josh Scobey on injured reserve (arm), waived quarterback Gibran Hamdan and signed former New York Giants defensive tackle Marcus Green. Green, a fifth-year senior who graduated from Ohio State in 2006, was an undrafted free agent who had been on New York's practice squad. The 6'1", 295-pound tackle may be able to help a Seattle defense that has had trouble stopping the run with the absence of Marcus Tubbs.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET and a staff writer for Football Outsiders. He also writes the weekly "Manic Monday" feature for FoxSports.com. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.

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