Seattle Free Agency Preview: The Receivers

With free agency frenzy upon us, Seahawks.NET looks at the one thing the Seahawks need more than anything right now (especially if they lose D.J. Hackett to the open market) -- more targets for Matt Hasselbeck! If Seattle has to go all pass-wacky to get into the playoffs again, who might be the best option to bring in?

While we could go all multi-tiered and look at every position … our draft coverage has been all-encompassing enough that we haven't had time to rate the top five nickel cornerbacks, or rank the long snappers by country of origin. And we don't expect the Seahawks to make an enormous splash in free agency, to be honest. It's going to be about signing or replacing their own, and filling one specific need. We also know that if the Seahawks roll the dice on a free agent running back with this draft class, someone went and stole Tim Ruskell's brain.

With time of the essence, and free agency beginning in mere hours, let's take a look at the men who catch the footballs. One way or another, this team is going to need at least one new pair of hands.

First, the tight end in question (and we're just going to go ahead and assume that Jerramy Stevens isn't in play here…)

Alge Crumpler

The former Falcon, and sibling to Carlester, Mr. Algernon will be visiting Seattle today and tomorrow, according to several sources. He's already talked to several teams, including Carolina, Tampa and Tennessee (the Titans wound up hitting Bo Scaife with a second-round tender instead, which is kind of hilarious), but several aspects of Seattle's situation (not to mention Crumpler's) make this an extremely intriguing prospect for the 30-year-old.

The Upside: Caught 42 balls in 2007 for an Atlanta team that redefined the word "nightmare"; lit the Seahawks up in Atlanta's season finale; can exploit the seam just as Mike Holmgren likes his tight ends to do; prior experience with Patrick Kerney, Jim Mora and Tim Ruskell.

The Downside: If he's healthy (and he passed the Tampa Bay and Tennessee physicals), none whatsoever. He's the perfect short-term solution.

The Verdict: The Seahawks desperately need a tight end with the end of the Marcus Pollard experiment, and Crumpler would put them in a position where they can avoid reaching for need at the position in the first two rounds of the draft. This makes sense in a number of ways, and I'll be surprised if Crumpler leaves the Emerald City without a contract.

Wide Receivers

There are two scenarios under which the Seahawks will require at least one elite receiver through the draft or free agency: First, if D.J. Hackett takes Seattle's recommendation to test the market and come back with a number as an insult, as Steve Hutchinson did. It's not as likely in Hackett's case --'s Adam Caplan has told us that Hackett knows he's a great fit for a West Coast offense and would like to stay in the Holmgren system -- but he's also an intriguing blend of deep speed and short-area possession ability that will prove attractive on the open market. Tampa Bay and Washington are two of at least half a dozen teams expected to show severe interest in Hackett despite his injury history.

The second scenario isif the Seahawks re-sign Hackett, and Deion Branch's injuries take him out for the 2008 season. We don't know how plausible that is, but there is a sense that as much effort and money as this front office has put into the receiver position, it's far from sewn up in 2008.Hackett or no, here are the primary names who could provide some relief (we're assuming that Randy Moss is out of the picture).

Bernard Berrian

The former Bears receiver will likely set the market this year, and he's already started, rejecting what has been referred to as a "take it or leave it" offer from the Bears in the amount of $25 million over five years, according to John Crist of Bear Report. The thought is that the asking price for Berrian (and possibly Hackett) will be in the neighborhood of five years, $28-20 million, $10-15 million guaranteed. That would be a big investment for the position after throwing so much money at Deion Branch less than two years ago.

The Upside: Can step in and provide a field-stretching option right away, especially if Hackett leaves, and you have to wonder what he'd do with an actual NFL quarterback throwing to him.

The Downside: Home run threat with negative DVOA and only five touchdowns in 127 pass attempts in his direction; unimpressive catch percentage; a receiver who's best as a deep option doesn't really fit Matt Hasselbeck's game.

The Verdict: It's not a fit, and considering that Berrian would cost more than Hackett, this would be a serious mistake.

Bryant Johnson

The 2003 first-round pick was overshadowed by Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona, though he's been reasonably productive in the third role and stepped up when Fitzgerald was hurt for three games in 2006.

The Upside: Big target at 6'3" and 216 pounds; reasonably physical; has been a good option when called upon to take a bigger role in recent years.

The Downside: Not highly-regarded as a route runner. Focus has been called into question at times.

The Verdict: He could be a stopgap if Hackett is out of the picture, but the Seahawks would be overpaying at anything more than second-tier money (such as the four-year, $16 million deal with $8 million guaranteed recently given to Andre Davis by Houston). Not out of the realm of possibility.

Jerheme Urban

Hey, don't we know this guy? Seattle's former Great White Hope caught on with the Cardinals and finished first in DPAR among all NFL receivers who had fewer than 50 balls thrown to them in 2007. This has been a barometer of future success with players like Hackett, Patrick Crayton and Joe Jurevicius, all of whom have ranked highly in recent years.

The Upside: Well, he knows the system. And he torched the Seahawks in early December.

The Downside: Not really a starting rotation-capable receiver, and the Seahawks already have Ben Obomanu and Courtney Taylor to compete for the four-slot

The Verdict: Possible as a roster move, but nobody's going to be tripping over anyone else to sign this guy to a huge contract on potential. He's a good, solid backup, and the Seahawks are overstocked down there.

Isaac Bruce

The last #80 in Rams history was cut in a salary cap move; he may be re-signed at a lower cost or he may choose to test the market and see if he can't end his career in Tim Brown/Jerry Rice fashion with a few more productive years at age 35.

The Upside: Had a higher DPAR (12.2) in 2007 than Deion Branch, Nate Burleson, Bernard Berrian and Joe Jurevicius, and he did it in an offense that the CFL would have kicked out of bed. Consummate route-runner, and a proud veteran with something to prove.

The Downside: The Seahawks already have Bobby Engram, so it might not make sense to bring in a guy who can't get reasonably deep at times. Then again, with a bunch of four-wise sets, Matt Hasselbeck might fall in love with Bruce as an option.

The Verdict: As Arte Johnson used to say, "Velllllly intelestink." Good fit in this offense with his hands and game knowledge, and he could be a mentor to the younger players. Not a completely insane idea at the right price, and Bob Whitsitt isn't around to "unretire" #80 anymore.

Devery Henderson

The Upside: Has shown improvement for the Saints over the last couple of seasons in several aspects; not afraid to be physical against press coverage; good size for this offense at 5'11" and 200 pounds.

The Downside: That 49 percent Catch Rate isn't going to set anyone on fire; Henderson has a well-documented problem with drops, and he's more a deep threat than a pure route-runner.

The Verdict: I have a feeling that Henderson, who is rumored to have been basically jettisoned by New Orleans in favor of David Patten, will be overpaid on sheer physical gifts by a team less savvy than Seattle. The drops will probably scare Mike Holmgren to death, given all he's been through on that subject.

David Patten

If Patten isn't brought back as Marques Colston's supporting actor, would he be a fit for a few seasons?

The Upside: Had a solid season for the Saints in 2007.

The Downside: Hadn't done much before that since leaving New England in 2004.

The Verdict: Appears to be a product of the Patriots' system. The Seahawks already socked a first-round pick and $39 million into that particular patch of quicksand. Pass.

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and he writes NFL previews for the New York Sun. Feel free to e-mail Doug here. Top Stories