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News » Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2009-03-03

Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2009-03-03

Seattle Seahawks Inside Slant 2009-03-03
The Seahawks weren't expected to be big players in free agency (team president Tim Ruskell said, "Getting Leroy Hill, we're already big, right?"), but they made a big splash by bringing in wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

He reportedly spurned offers from Cincinnati and Minnesota for a five-year deal with the Seahawks potentially worth more than $40 million and including more than $15 million guaranteed.

Just as important, the move gives the Seahawks flexibility. With the No. 4 pick overall, and two of the first 37 picks in this year's draft, the Seahawks have already addressed an important position.

Most mock drafts had the Seahawks slated to take Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree with the No. 4 overall pick. That would appear to be out the window, with the Seahawks likely to focus on one of the top tackles - Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe.

They also sit in prime position to trade out of the spot if other teams jockey to get in position for Crabtree, or if Smith doesn't make it to the fourth pick. Smith is an ascending player who has climbed into the top two or three on most draft boards, and what Detroit does with the No. 1 overall pick will determine how the rest of the top five plays out.

On the field, Houshmandzadeh will be expected to start opposite Deion Branch, with Nate Burleson likely to occupy the slot position if he makes a full recovery from knee surgery. It also means Bobby Engram's tenure with the team is likely over. Even before Houshmandzadeh's deal, the Seahawks were expected to move Courtney Taylor into Engram's slot/third-down role.

Bringing back Hill was a priority for the Seahawks, said Ruskell in his first interview just after the season ended. The 26-year old was considered by some as the best linebacker on the team that includes Pro Bowlers Julian Peterson and Lofa Tatupu.

Seattle accomplished that by designating Hill with the franchise tag for an $8.3 million, one-year tender. The move allows Hill and the team to continue negotiations. Hill reportedly turned down a six-year, $36 million offer from the club. However, Hill, who was arrested on a misdemeanor drug charge in Atlanta last month, said he's thankful for the team designating him with the franchise tag.

"Obviously, I'd rather get a long-term deal done, but I can't complain," Hill told a reporter with the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph. "They committed to me with the franchise tag. I accepted and I'm going to give a full commitment back."

With Hill probably remaining a Seahawk, Seattle can now focus on signing the remaining players they would like to keep. The Seahawks had 16 free agents total, with the latest addition linebacker Lance Laury, a restricted agent that will become an unrestricted agent because the Seahawks declined to tender Laury an offer of just over $1 million. Running back Maurice Morris (Detroit) and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard (Giants) left in the first 48 hours of free agency.

Heading the list among those candidates will be fullback Leonard Weaver and offensive lineman Ray Willis and Floyd Womack. Weaver was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate last season, and likely will have other suitors because of his versatility as a big back who can block and catch passes out of the backfield.

Womack and Willis started the most games in their careers after injuries forced them into duty, and both took advantage of the opportunity. Willis probably has more value on the market and might be harder for Seattle to keep, but Womack's ability to play multiple positions makes him a key piece for the Seahawks' offensive line depth.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 3, 2009

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