On a Seattle-area radio show last week, we noted that quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was most likely to return to the Seahawks for 2011, and various media reports later in the week bolstered that possibility. That seems to be the prevailing belief around the league.
Of all the veteran quarterbacks either available in free agency or rumored to be on the trade block, Hasselbeck is mentioned the least of anyone when a change of scenery is discussed. The 12-year veteran might be a solid "bridge" quarterback for a team seeking an experienced guy to play for a year or two while a youngster is developed, but there's only modest buzz so far about him filling such a role.
Hasselbeck will turn 36 in late September, and he's coming off a season in which he had some injuries and threw only a dozen touchdown passes. But those who have watched Hasselbeck at practice insist he can still throw every pass and are somewhat surprised he seems to have generated so little unofficial interest.
The Seahawks definitely want Hasselbeck to re-sign, probably for a short-term contract, and the organization still seems to retain confidence that backup Charlie Whitehurst can develop into a viable starter. Team officials also insisted to The Sports Xchange this week that there is little interest in Matt Leinart, a free agent and former Heisman Trophy winner who played for coach Pete Carroll at USC.
Free man: The Dallas Cowboys have a plan for the offensive left tackle spot, and, despite the selection of Tyron Smith of Southern Cal with the ninth overall pick in the first round two weeks ago, a club source says that the team's "definite" preference is to have Doug Free return for at least another year, and possibly the long-term.
After starting only seven games in his first four seasons in the league, Free moved from the right to the left side in his fifth year, after Dallas released Flozell Adams, and started all 16 games. By unofficial count, Free permitted five sacks in '10, all of them after Tony Romo was injured in the sixth game, and Jon Kitna became the starter for the rest of the campaign. Free, 27, a relative baby by the Dallas line's standards, is a free agent whose status won't be determined until there is a CBA agreement.
The team made him a one-year restricted tender at the highest level, $3.442 million (first- and third-round compensation), but will want to discuss a long-term deal once there is labor peace and the moratorium on negotiations is lifted. A lot of teams, Dallas included, felt that Smith's athleticism and quick feet made him a left tackle candidate. But Smith never started a game at left tackle for USC and never even practiced at the position the past two seasons.
They like Ike: Getting tired of all the Ike Taylor updates in this space? Can't blame you a bit. But we noted here last week that the conspicuous confidence of Pittsburgh officials that they will be able to re-sign the pending restricted free agent might be a little misplaced, since the eight-year veteran figures to have a healthy group of suitors if the market ever opens. Since last week, though, it was pointed out that Taylor enjoys a close relationship with the Rooney family, doesn't necessarily take well to change, likes the comfort level in Pittsburgh, and feels that the $11 million-per-year contract awarded lesser-talented cornerback Stanford Routt by the Oakland Raiders is a bit of an aberration. That's not suggesting Taylor will come cheap, or give the Steelers a so-called "hometown discount," but he could end up providing the team to match any outside offers. As noted here in the past, Taylor has some obvious deficiencies, but he knows the Dick LeBeau system well, and clearly is the Steelers' top player at the position.
NFL Notebook: Limiting QB options?
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