Frye Hopes to Resurrect Career in Seattle

As first reported by FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer, the Seahawks have traded a sixth-round draft pick in 2008 to the Cleveland Browns for quarterback Charlie Frye. Since releasing David Greene and Derek Devine in early September to make their 53-man limit, Seattle has played and practiced with only two quarterbacks on the roster – starter Matt Hasselbeck and backup Seneca Wallace.

Seattle had been looking to address the issue ever since, bringing in Ken Dorsey for a visit last week. Dorsey, interestingly enough, was cut by Cleveland in September 1, and has now re-signed with the Browns.

Frye, who was selected by the Browns in the third round of the 2005 draft out of Akron, had been the team's primary quarterback in 2006. he played in 13 games, throwing for 2,454 yards on 252 completions. Frye completed 64.1 percent of his passes, implying the kind of efficiency that would be a necessity should be play for any amount of time in Seattle's offense, but his matching rankings of 43rd in DVOA and DPAR (which put him in the Aaron Brooks/Bruce Gradkowski bin) speak to several issues.

First, Frye threw for 10 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2006, though you could say that those stats are slightly skewed by the fact that he threw six picks and no touchdowns in two games against the Bengals. Second, Frye has learned to pick his spots as a matter of survival due to his slow release and sub-par arm strength. Those problems could be worked out to a point if he had a decent pass-blocking line, but his own inability to get rid of the ball efficiently and several devastating injuries to Cleveland's line in 2006 led to a ranking of 26th in Adjusted Sack Rate for the Browns.

Cleveland gave up 54 sacks overall – only Oakland and Detroit were worse – and Frye picked up 44 of those. Third, Frye fumbled eight times in 2006 – if you match that with his interceptions, you're thinking that this is a player who doesn't take very good care of the ball.

The bell tolled for Frye very soon in to the Browns' season 2007 opener, a 34-7 shellacking at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Named the team's starter after winning an open competition in training camp, Frye was benched in the first half of the Steelers game after going 4-for 10 for 34 passing yards. He also threw an interception despite his predilection for holding on to the ball far too long while running for his life under the wheels of the Pittsburgh defense. Though Frye was sacked five times, replacement Derek Anderson was taken down only once.

Cleveland general manager Phil Savage explained his thought process behind the trade on Tuesday afternoon.

"I felt if we didn't do something now, we wouldn't maximize our value of all four quarterbacks," Savage said. "Rather than waiting four to five weeks, we did so now and received a sixth-round pick.

"Plus, we felt we would run the risk of losing Ken Dorsey as Seattle, among other teams, have had talks with him."

Savage also said that the most important thing for the team to do now is to get Quinn up to speed and get him in the field. Dorsey, whose release reportedly upset the valued rookie, will continue to mentor the Notre Dame golden boy while Derek Anderson becomes the starter – a position that may be monitored with an egg timer.

For Frye, the question is what he can do for Seattle. With the high ankle sprain suffered by receiver D.J. Hackett early in Seattle's opening win over Tampa Bay, Mike Holmgren was left scrambling for personnel to run his four-wide sets. The Buccaneers were able to negate flanker Deion Branch – the team's only other deep threat – and this caused Holmgren to intimate, as he has many times before, his preference to get backup quarterback Seneca Wallace on the field as a receiver. Wallace has shown incredible speed and elusiveness in limited action.

Frye's starting experience, as limited and traumatic as it may be, could give the Seattle brain trust a bit more flexibility in that area. However, you'd still expect the Seahawks to go with Wallace if Hasselbeck is injured, as he was for four games in 2006. In the interim, the positive for Frye is that he'll be working with Mike Holmgren and quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, and there are few, if any, teams with two more esteemed mentors at the position.

Brian McIntyre, who writes for Seahawks.NET and charts games for Football Outsiders, has tracked Frye in more than one contest and has this to say: "In 2006, Frye was essentially a rookie starter, playing with a dreadful offensive line, and the 31st-ranked rushing attack. He was sacked 44 times in 2006 and 5 times on Sunday, and he kept getting up. So he's a tough guy, which I actually admire.

"Frye has a weak arm, which everyone has noted. He didn't appear to have any sense that the pocket was collapsing, and failed to protect the football when he was hit. I also didn't notice any improvement in him from charting his game against Oakland on October 1st (3 TDs against that secondary) to his game on November 26th, when he threw 4 interceptions against the Bengals. In fact, his decision-making had regressed. How much of that was the offensive line and supporting cast, I don't know. I just know a quarterback getting sacked five times in less than 21 minutes can't be entirely chalked up to a poor offensive line."

The real question seems to be whether Frye or the Cleveland organization is more to blame for his ineffectiveness. With an opportunity to resurrect his career in a sheltered environment, it'll be Frye's challenge to put the blame on the Browns.

Stay tuned for more exclusive analysis about this trade, and everything else Seahawks!


Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and a contributing author to Pro Football Prospectus 2007. Feel free to e-mail him here.


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