Part One: Quarterbacks
Age: 34 (turns 35 in September)
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $5.75M
Age: 27 (turns 28 in August)
Signed through: 2011
2010 salary: $2M
Signed through: 2010
2010 salary: $630,000
Average age: 30.7 years
Total salary: $8.38M
Hasselbeck remains "The Man" in Seattle, and that's unlikely to change. Thus far, the 34-year old has handled the bulk of the first-team reps during the team's Organized Team Activity sessions and mini-camps. His experience gives him a leg up on the rest of the passers on the roster, and unless something dramatic (or tragic) happens between now and September, Hasselbeck will be the starting quarterback when the Seahawks open the season against the San Francisco 49ers on Qwest Field on September 13.
Whitehurst has been working with the second team offense during the off-season workouts. Though the Seahawks swapped second-round picks and traded a future third-round pick to acquire Whitehurst from the San Diego Chargers, and then signed him to a two-year, $8 million dollar contract, Seattle added veteran quarterback J.P. Losman, a former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills, to a one-year contract at the veteran minimum to push Whitehurst for the top backup job.
When Losman's contract with the Bills expired after the 2008 season, the former Tulane star drew little interest on the free agent market. After a successful stint in the UFL, where he led the Las Vegas Locomotives to a UFL Championship, Losman resurfaced in the NFL, spending the final three weeks of the season with the Oakland Raiders. At 6-2, Losman isn't the prototypical passer, but he makes up for his lack of height with a strong arm, and the ability to make plays outside the pocket, two characteristics quarterbacks in Jeremy Bates' offense will be required to have.
Heads were scratching when the Seahawks dealt Seneca Wallace to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a conditional late-round pick in 2011. Wallace had developed into a dependable backup to Hasselbeck, and was regarded as being one of the most gifted athletes on the entire roster.
However, Wallace was entering the final year of his contract, had what the Seahawks felt was a clearly established ceiling as a quarterback, lacking the arm strength and decision-making outside of the pocket necessary to successfully run Bates' offense. One could argue that Wallace could have been converted to wide receiver, where his athleticism and ability as a quarterback could have made him a dangerous, multi-faceted weapon on offense. As long as someone in the NFL thinks Wallace is a quarterback, though, which Mike Holmgren clearly does, he deserves the opportunity to play his preferred position.
Young quarterbacks Mike Teel and Mike Reilly were two of the more popular players to roll through Renton in the last year.
A sixth-round pick (178th overall) out of Rutgers, Teel completed 48.8% of his passes during the 2009 pre-season, but had three touchdown passes, leading many Seahawks fans to wonder if the Seahawks had discovered the next Tom Brady. Nine months later, Teel is the same quarterback meeting room as Brady, having been waived on May 19 after the ‘Hawks signed Losman, and subsequently claimed by the New England Patriots. (New England was the only team to put in a waiver claim on Teel.)
Teel's tenure with the Seahawks began to expire the moment Bates was hired to coordinate the offense. Teel is not very mobile, or accurate, and doesn't throw a very good deep ball. These are issues that Teel can improve upon, and he does possess enough talent to play in the NFL, but his shortcomings placed him squarely on the bubble of the team's 80-man off-season roster. Once a better option to compete with Whitehurst became available, Teel was going to be let go.
As for Reilly, the former Central Washington standout's stay with his hometown team was very brief, lasting just two weeks and less than a handful of OTA sessions. Seattle waived Reilly on May 18, the same day they worked out, and began negotiating with, Losman.
Training Camp Battle
A veteran quarterback like Hasselbeck makes the installation of Bates' offensive system a much smoother process for the offense as a whole. Running backs, receivers and tight ends, and the offensive line will benefit from a steady hand like Hasselbeck running the show during the OTAs, mini-camp, and training camp.
Given Hasselbeck's age and injuries in recent seasons, who serves as his top backup will be this season will arguably be the most important storyline of training camp. Whitehurst has a two-month head-start on Losman in the system, but Losman's experience could allow him to close the gap rather quickly.
Whitehurst is the only Seahawks quarterback signed beyond this season, so he'll get the bulk of the second-team reps during training camp and the pre-season. The team also wants Losman to push Whitehurst, which leaves very few opportunities for a developmental quarterback to catch the staff's eye.
General Manager John Schneider has indicated that quarterback is a position the Seahawks will always be investing in, and one of their eight spots on the practice squad figures to be reserved for a passer. That could include the return of Teel or Reilly, either of whom could be back by July as an additional arm for training camp.
After NFL teams cut down to 53 players, Seattle may also look to add a young quarterback with practice squad eligibility remaining, and clearly-defined obstacles blocking their advancement within their current organization. Second-year quarterbacks Hunter Cantwell (Carolina Panthers) and Tom Brandstater (Denver Broncos) fit that description, as does Dallas Cowboys undrafted rookie Matt Nichols, the former Eastern Washington quarterback who visited the Seahawks prior to the 2010 NFL Draft.
In addition to writing for NorthwestFootball.net, 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.