RENTON — A prominent quarterback from Seattle’s past provides the most instructive indication of its near future at that position.
Matt Hasselbeck came on the market Monday, released after two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, and the fact he ended up as Indianapolis’ backup paints a pretty strong indication of where Matt Flynn will be next season: in Seattle.
Hasselbeck was available, no strings attached, and he wound up taking a job as Andrew Luck’s backup with the Colts for the not-so-insignificant sum of $8 million over two years. Hasselbeck will make $5 million in 2013 alone, which is significant because that’s about what Flynn is scheduled to earn this season on the contract he signed with Seattle last year.
And for that price, the Jets didn’t add Hasselbeck. Neither did the Jaguars, nor the Bills, which serves to give you a pretty strong indication that those teams aren’t looking to deepen their quarterback ranks with a veteran.
And if none of those teams landed Hasselbeck at that price, why is there any reason to think one of those teams would give up the draft position it would take to acquire Flynn from Seattle and pay him a similar amount?
Because Seattle is not going to give away Flynn. The Seahawks made that clear in February when first general manager John Schneider and then coach Pete Carroll were clear about their satisfaction with the current pair of quarterbacks. No one ruled out a trade, but indicated the preference was to keep Flynn even though Wilson was clearly established as the starter.
“We feel real blessed to have two quarterbacks,” Schneider reiterated last week after Percy Harvin was introduced as a Seahawk.
Seattle isn’t boxed into a corner, either. Wilson must play at least two more years on the rookie contract he signed as a third-round pick, a deal that averages less than $1 million annually. Even with a relatively high-priced backup, the Seahawks are spending way less than the league average at what is the league’s most expensive position.
The quarterback vacancies around the league have filled up. The Chiefs traded for Alex Smith of the 49ers, instead of pursuing Flynn. The Eagles retained Michael Vick at a lower salary, and the Bills re-signed Tarvaris Jackson with an eye toward letting him compete to be the starter.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kolb and Matt Cassel were starters in Week 1 a year ago, but each was released.
And when Hasselbeck was let go by Tennessee on Monday, he became the most accomplished QB to hit the open market this year, and there was immediate speculation he would have his pick of teams.
Maybe somewhere like Arizona, which doesn’t have a clear-cut starter. Or Buffalo. Maybe even Jacksonville as the Jaguars new offensive coordinator — Jedd Fisch — was Hasselbeck’s quarterbacks coach in 2010, Hasselbeck’s last season in Seattle.
Yet Hasselbeck chose to sign with a team that would prefer he never play a down for them.
The only way Hasselbeck plays is if the starter gets hurt. That’s not necessarily the case for teams like the Jags, Jets and Cardinals where the pecking order is very much in doubt. Heck, it’s not certain in Tennessee, where Jake Locker is now in a make-or-break year.
The fact that none of those teams courted Hasselbeck to the point of signing him speaks to the level of interest — or lack thereof — in deepening the talent at quarterback. While Hasselbeck is 10 years older than Flynn, the fact that no team made an overwhelming pitch to sign a veteran with five playoff wins and a Super Bowl appearance is enough to cast significant doubt on whether one of those teams would give up a draft pick or two to acquire Flynn at a similar cost.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @dannyoneil