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Hasselbeck joins Locker; Seahawks QB job now up in the air

Ted S. Warren
AP Photo
Matt Hasselbeck hoists the Seahawks' NFC championship trophy after a 34-14 defeat of the Carolina Panthers on Jan. 22, 2006. The Hawks didn't resign Hasselbeck, who instead agreed to a three-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.

The football news came fast and furious this week. The NFL lockout ended. Training camp started. Players were released or signed by teams in a mad rush to prepare for a season that starts in just two weeks.

It was an intense period of personnel shuffling unprecedented in the NFL, and the Seahawks were right in the middle of it.

So long Matt

The Seahawks announced this week they weren't resigning quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, after 10 years in Seattle. He has instead signed a three-year deal with the Tennessee Titans.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says he's not too surprised that the Hawks passed on Hasselbeck, given that he's turning 36 this year and has been prone to injury in the past few seasons. Still, Art says he will be missed – on and off the field.

"He led the Seahawks to five playoff appearances in his 10 years here, including the Super Bowl. And I think front office, media and fans who had a chance to be in contact with Matt all find him a great gentlemen and one of the real contributors to the community in ways beyond football."

In addition to being the starting quarterback for Tennessee, Hasselback is tasked with mentoring rookie quarterback Jake Locker from the University of Washington. The Titans selected him No. 8 overall in this year's NFL draft. Art says a lot of Seattle fans will be watching that relationship develop with great interest.

Hello uncertainty

The Seahawks this week signed former Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback Tavaris Jackson. Art wrote about the acquisition for Sportspress Northwest. Jackson joins current No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. Art says they have identical two-year, $8 million contracts and will compete for the starting job.

"There's an old football bromide that says if you have two quarterbacks, you have none. And that's the issue here."

Jackson has 20 NFL starts and Whitehurst has two. Art thinks that will give Jackson the edge in training camp. But neither is seen as a playoff-caliber quarterback.

Art says the Seahawks are building their team around the quarterback, but the biggest and most important position is going to be filled by a "temp."

"They're looking ahead to the 2012 collegiate draft, in which there are any number of young, franchise quarterbacks that are likely to be available to those teams who aren't very successful in 2011. And that could be the Seahawks."

No rest for the newbies

The Seahawks this week also signed former Minnesota wide receiver Sidney Rice, who Art says is the best available at his position. You can read more about him in Danny O'Neil's Seahawks Blog in The Seattle Times. The Hawks also filled their hole at left guard by signing Robert Gallery from Oakland.

Art says both of these players are reuniting with previous coaches the Seahawks have hired, so there is some familiarity on the staff. But he says big obstacles remain.

"They're all going to have to be integrated into an offense very, very quickly. That's going to be a problem for the Seahawks and all NFL teams to try to cobble together teams without a full training camp, without offseason workouts. Because they're starting in two weeks."

In a weekly Q&A, Seattle sports expert and longtime columnist Art Thiel gives his take on the latest regional and national sports news. “Sports with Art Thiel is published here and airs on KPLU 88.5 every Friday during Morning Edition and on Weekend Saturday Edition.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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