Seahawks News & Notes - 4/4/08

The Seahawks finalized their free agency plans when they signed veteran kicker Olindo Mare to a two-year, $3.5 million contract. Mare will replace Josh Brown, who signed a lucrative contract with the St. Louis Rams at the start of free agency.

The question, of course, is whether Mare is going to be given the job or if he has to compete for the position in training camp.

It is believed that Mare did not receive a signing bonus, leading one to believe that Mare will have competition from a rookie. Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell went so far as to say the team may take a kicker late in the draft.

"Nothing is ruled out even though we have signed Mare," Ruskell said. "We like him and we certainly think he is capable of doing the job. We were also happy with what we were seeing in the college market. It depends how that plays out. Again, certainly not something we are feeling like we have to take in the draft. So it depends how that plays out."

Mare made only 10 of 17 field goals last season in a career that has seen his accuracy steadily decrease. He also missed multiple games with injuries. Ruskell said some of Mare's issues in the past have been about the long snapper/holder/kicker combination, ironic since that is one of the things that was an ongoing issue in Seattle last year -- and still is since they don't yet have a replacement long snapper.

"Here is a guy who is used to a routine with Miami," Ruskell said. "When you start changing that up ... You know, I always underestimated that. You get a snapper, you get a kicker, you get a holder, we should be fine. It is not quite as easy as that. Our example is a great one. Once we solidified that battery, we didn't miss a kick at the end of the year. So we will pay attention to that. And I think that will help Olindo as well."

The Seahawks signed long snapper Tim Lindsey right after the season, but they are likely to sign a college free agent. Ruskell said if the team gets desperate, it can always re-sign 38-year-old Jeff Robinson, a Seattle resident who finished last season as the team's long snapper.

--Though the Seahawks are excited about moving into their new practice facility, they are not going to be able to do it immediately -- which means there is going to be the pain of transition during the preseason. The Seahawks are moving from their longtime home in Kirkland to brand-new digs in Renton, about 15 miles south on the banks of Lake Washington.

But because they were not sure about construction schedules, they had to commit a year in advance to holding training camp at Northwest College, where their headquarters are located.

That being the case, they are not likely to move into their new practice facility -- which includes indoor fields -- until the second or third week of the preseason, meaning they will have some logistical issues to deal with.

On top of that, they want to re-connect with fans used to seeing the team practices in Cheney, in the Eastern part of Washington. Management is currently having discussions with coach Mike Holmgren about holding one practice a week in Renton to give fans a chance to see some of the team.

Regardless of what happens with the team in August, CEO Tod Leiweke said the opening of the new facility is one of the single biggest improvements the organization can make.

Currently, the football side of the organization is in Kirkland while the business side is located in Qwest Field in downtown Seattle. Leiweke said the pragmatic issues of simply scheduling meetings with different factions of the organization often can be laborious, something that should be cured once all parties are under the same roof.

NOTES, QUOTES

--Coach Mike Holmgren was the only coach in the NFL not to attend the owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla. Team CEO Tod Leiweke said Holmgren still was recuperating from the season.

--Even though he once fired him, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said hiring Jim Mora to replace Mike Holmgren was a good decision. "He is a very fine football coach and he is a great guy and I think the Atlanta experience is a very maturing one for him," Blank said of Mora, who went 26-22 in three seasons with the Falcons. "Seattle will be fortunate to have him as a head coach. He has a great relationship with the players, the community as well, and I think he will do a very fine job. Unfortunately things did not work out in Atlanta, from my perspective and from Jimmy's, but we still maintain a good relationship."

--The Seahawks will play Minnesota, Oakland, Chicago and San Diego in their four preseason games. The final game, against the Chargers, will be aired on Monday night.

--Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell said running back Shaun Alexander is out of his cast but his surgically repaired left wrist still is in a splint. Ruskell said Alexander will be examined by doctors in the next week. He said a decision still has not been made on Alexander's future.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Personally I think you are going to get the best he has. And that is the best there is. You are going to get a focused exclamation point to his great coaching career. I wouldn't be surprised if this is the best job he ever does -- and that is saying a lot. I am going to miss him. The NFL loses Brett Favre and then Mike Holmgren, we are losing two of the great NFL men. Some of us have to pick up the slack." -- Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden on the last season of Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who is retiring after this year.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Seattle Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell said that after signing linebacker D.D. Lewis, defensive end Chris Cooper and kicker Olindo Mare, the team is done in free agency.

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

The only thing remaining for Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell to do before the draft is to negotiate a long-term extension for linebacker Leroy Hill, the third piece of Seattle's talented linebacker trio. However, Hill just switched agents from Bill Strickland to Todd France, so any talks with Hill's representatives are on hold until that relationship has been solidified.

1. Tight end: Starter Marcus Pollard is a free agent and will not be back. The team signed Jeb Putzier, but he is projected as a third tight end. Will Heller is No. 2. Which means the team needs a starter. It is likely to address that need high in the draft -- possibly in the first round -- after losing out on its targeted option of Alge Crumpler in free agency to Tennessee.

2. Wide receiver: With D.J. Hackett leaving for Carolina in free agency and Deion Branch out at least half the year with a knee injury, the Seahawks are relying on 35-year-old veteran Bobby Engram, second receiver Nate Burleson and one of four unproven youngsters -- Logan Payne, Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent or Ben Obomanu -- to fill the void. None has the size of Hackett or the speed of Branch. They may need to take a receiver in the draft to provide depth.

3. Defensive line: Rookie Brandon Mebane filled in admirably for the injured Chuck Darby, who just signed with Detroit. The return of Marcus Tubbs is uncertain, which means the team needs more depth at the position. The Seahawks signed Chris Cooper this week to add depth, but they still need somebody who can get into a solid rotation with Mebane and Rocky Bernard. Some mock drafts have the Seahawks taking North Carolina DT Kentwan Balmer in the first round.

MEDICAL WATCH: RB Shaun Alexander had the cast removed from his surgically repaired wrist but he still is wearing a splint. He will be re-examined by team doctors.


SeahawkFootball.com Top Stories