Seahawks 2010 Roster Analysis: WR/TE

Brian McIntyre of looks what is known about Deon Butler (left), the decisions that need to be made on Nate Burleson, Deion Branch, and yes, Brandon Marshall, as well as why the time is now to sign John Carlson to a long-term extension.

#11 – Deon Butler
Age: 24
Signed through: 2012
2010 salary: $395,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $565,188

Butler, the 91st overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, was used sparingly during his rookie season, catching just 15 passes for 175 yards. His lone highlight was a 32-yard reception late in the 4th quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, which set up Olindo Mare's game-winning field goal.

#16 – Patrick Carter
Age: 24
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $320,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $320,000

An undrafted free agent out of Louisville in 2008, Carter had 8 receptions for 88 yards during pre-season action with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009. At 6-3 and 215 pounds, he has the size that general manager John Schneider prefers in his wide receivers.

#18 – Mike Hass
Age: 27
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $395,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $395,000

The former Oregon State Beaver spent much of 2009 on the Seahawks' practice squad. He saw action in one game, injuring his shoulder while playing on special teams against the Green Bay Packers.

#19 – Michael   Jones
Age: 23
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $320,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $320,000

Signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent from Arizona State, the 6-4, 212-pound Jones returned one punt for 0 yards during pre-season action with the Texans, who released him at the end of training camp. The Seahawks signed Jones to the practice squad in Week 10, where he spent the remainder of the season.

#81 – Nate Burleson
Age: 29
Signed through: Unrestricted Free Agent

Burleson recovered from a torn ACL to catch 63 passes for 812 yards and 3 touchdowns, and average 8.5 yards on 30 punt returns in 2009. Burleson voided the final year of his deal, making him eligible for unrestricted free agency, though the Seattle native has expressed his desire to remain with the Seahawks.

#83 – Deion Branch
Age: 30
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $5.47M
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $8.07M

The much-maligned, oft-injured Branch missed the first two weeks with a hamstring injury, but caught 45 passes for 437 yards and a pair of touchdowns in 2009. Branch made most of his noise off the field, making controversial comments after a touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys, and during the December 29, 2009 edition of the "Branch & Burleson Show" on 950-KJR.

#84 – T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Age: 24
Signed through: 2013
2010 salary: $7M
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $7.4M

In the first year of a 5-year, $40M contract, Houshmandzadeh led the Seahawks with 79 receptions for 911 yards, scoring three touchdowns. Houshmandzadeh frequently expressed his frustration with his play, and the play of others, on the sidelines, and along with Branch, made some waves by calling out KJR analyst Hugh Millen during a late-season guest appearance on the aforementioned edition of the "Branch & Burleson Show".

#87 – Ben Obomanu
Age: 24
Signed through: Restricted Free Agent 

Obomanu only caught 4 passes for 41 yards, but was only targeted 5 times despite being active for 14 of the 16 games this season. The third-year player out of Auburn averaged 26.6 yards on 11 kick returns, with a long of 45 yards, and Obomanu was second on the team with 12 special teams tackles.

Tight Ends

#47 – Jason Pociask
Age: 26
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $395,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $395,000

A journeyman tight end from Wisconsin, the 6-3, 259-pound Pociask joined the Seahawks' practice squad in Week 17. A fifth-round pick by the New York Jets in 2006, Pociask has also played for the New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, and spent a month on the Carolina Panthers practice squad in the middle part of the '09 season. In four career games, all in 2007, Pociask has one reception for 7 yards.

#86 – John Owens
Age: 30
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $850,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $850,000

The 6-3, 255-pound blocking tight end caught 3 passes for 16 yards in 2009.

#88 – Cameron Morrah
Age: 22
Signed through: 2012
2010 salary: $395,000
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $405,138

After being active the first three weeks, and catching the one pass thrown to him, Morrah spent the next 13 weeks on the team's gameday inactive list.

#89 – John Carlson
Age: 25
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $521,750
2010 cap number (approx., if applicable): $896,750

Carlson proved that his rookie season was no fluke, catching 51 passes for 574 yards and a team-high seven touchdowns, a Seahawks record for tight ends in a single-season. Carlson appeared headed towards a Pro Bowl season after the month of games, but his role in the offense was reduced as the Seahawks struggled to protect the quarterback.

2010 Outlook

Houshmandzadeh's $7M base salary is fully guaranteed, so he'll be back in a starting role in 2010.

Who will start opposite Houshmandzadeh is unknown.

Burleson handled starting duties until an ankle injury sidelined him for the final three games of the 2009 season. As noted above, the Seattle native would like to be back in 2010, but this is a business, and in an uncapped 2010, another team may be willing to pay more Burleson more short-term guaranteed money than the Seahawks would. Plus, with Burleson turning 29 before next season, the Seahawks may look to get younger at the position.

The stated desire of the front office to get younger, bigger, and more physical at the wide receiver position all but assures the release of Branch, who'd go 0-for-3 in those categories, this off-season.

If the acquisition of Branch itself wasn't a major strike against Tim Ruskell's tenure as general manager, bringing him back at $4.94 million dollars, which became guaranteed when he was on the 53-man roster for Week 1, certainly was.

Branch may have been acquired via a trade, and was essentially the team's first-round pick in 2007, but last season was the fourth-year of a free agent contract, a deal Branch clearly hadn't performed up to. Back -up wide receivers in "run-first" offenses should not be making nearly $5 million dollars in base salary, so Branch should have been approached to restructure the deal, or be released.

That neither action took place is a clear indicator that Ruskell's late-season assertion that the Seahawks were in a "two-year" rebuilding project was as disingenuous as former head coach Jim Mora's celebration of the Seahawks winning one more game than the 2008 Seahawks managed to do.

Which brings us to Deon Butler, the Seahawks' third-round pick from 2009 who—thanks to the Ruskell, Mora, former offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, and former receivers coach Robert Prince—we know next to nothing about heading into the off-season.

Thanks to the rookie diary Butler did with Jerry Brewer for the Seattle Times, we know that his given first name is "Vincent", he'll be on a homicide unit one day, and that he bought himself a BMW X-5. We know that Butler is fast (ran a 4.38 in the 40-yard dash at last year's Combine), and we know that he is Penn State's all-time leader in receptions, breaking a mark previously held by former Seahawks wide receiver Bobby Engram.

But as far as what Butler can do as an NFL wide receiver, we really have no idea.

Despite being the only player on offense, and certainly the only receiver, with game-breaking speed, he averaged around 20 snaps per game, a figure that is inflated by Butler getting the bulk of his playing time in the first two games (when Branch was hurt) and the last four games (when Burleson was hurt) of the season. When Butler did get to play, it was mostly as the lone receiver in short-yardage situations, which were either running plays, designed bootlegs where Butler was either the decoy or running deep routes, often against double-coverage.

Hopefully new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and receivers coach Kippy Brown can get the 5-10, 182-pound Butler more involved in the offense next season, which could be termed Butler's red-shirt rookie season, since he does represent the third-round pick the team is missing in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Obomanu is a restricted free agent, and it's possible that the Seahawks could tender him at the "Right of First Refusal and Draft Selection at Player's Original Round" level, or $1.101 million dollars for 2010, but doing so is not certainty. Last off-season, the Seahawks opted to not tender restricted free agent Lance Laury at the "RFR" level ($1.01M in 2009), instead signing him to a one-year deal at the veteran minimum of $535,000.

A similar approach may be taken with Obomanu, who spent 2008 on injured reserve, spent much of '09 playing special teams, and turns 27 this year.

The Seahawks need for play-makers at the receiver position has them among the teams rumored to be interested in Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Talk of acquiring Marshall intensified when the Seahawks hired Jeremy Bates and Jedd Fisch, who coached Marshall in Denver in 2008, to their offensive coaching staff.

Marshall won't come cheaply, and any talk of the Broncos participating in a "Cash for Clunkers" program by accepting Deion Branch and a pick for Marshall should be dismissed out of hand. Denver will tender Marshall, a restricted free agent in a likely uncapped year, at the highest-level possible, and will likely ask for a 1st round pick, or a combination of picks, in any trade. Once acquired, Marshall will be looking for a long-term contract that contains over $20 million in guaranteed money on a contract that averages nearly $10 million dollars per season.

There's no doubting Marshall's talent, but in addition to the hefty price tag to acquire him, Marshall comes with a significant amount of baggage, on and off the field, which has followed him his days at Central Florida to Denver to his off-season home of Atlanta, Georgia. Any thought that a change of scenery, or a reunion with Bates or Fisch, will have an impact on Marshall's propensity for getting in trouble, can probably be scuttled.

With three picks of the first 40 picks of a deep draft class, the Seahawks should resist the temptation to acquire a high-risk, high-reward player like Marshall, and use the draft to plug the multiple holes on the lines and backfields on both sides of the ball.

With Carlson, who has Pro Bowl ability, and a solid blocking tight end like Owens, the Seahawks are set at the tight end position for 2010. One change I'd like to see is new general manager John Schneider and cap/contract guy John Idzik address Carlson's contract situation.

Though there's still two years remaining on his deal, this is the first off-season Carlson's rookie contract can be renegotiated. Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek signed a six-year, $33 million dollar contract extension last December, during his third season in the league, when he had career receiving totals of 97 receptions, 1,097 yards and 7 touchdowns.

After two seasons, Carlson has 106 receptions, 1,201 yards, and 12 touchdowns, and with his abilities, his price tag is only going to go up. It would be a refreshing change from the old guard, dating back to the Holmgren days, to see the Seahawks' front office behave proactively on these matters.

Bates and new tight ends coach Pat McPherson will hopefully figure out a way to get a dynamic athlete like Morrah more involved in the offense. He's leaner than most tight ends, but with 4.6 speed, Morrah could make plays downfield and at 6-4 and 244 pounds, he could be a big receiving target for Matt Hasselbeck.

In addition to writing for, Brian McIntyre blogs daily at Mac's Football Blog. You can follow Brian on Twitter, and if you'd like to e-mail him, you can always do so by clicking here. Top Stories