What in the Whitehurst is Seattle thinking?

Paul Kasper
March 23, 2010

After a questionable managerial move in January that saw the Seattle Seahawks bring aboard head coach Pete Carroll, the franchise has once again drawn criticism, this time with a choice of on-field personnel.

If bringing in Pete Carroll to coach the team was the Mona Lisa, then the trade for Charlie Whitehurst has just completed the Sistine Chapel.

For the price of moving down 20 slots in the second round of the upcoming National Football League Draft, and a third round pick in 2011, the Seahawks have acquired a quarterback with this career stat line: four seasons, zero pass attempts, zero yards, zero touchdowns.

Please excuse me while I punch his ticket to next year’s Pro Bowl.

In addition to the trade itself, the water birds “awarded” Whitehurst with a two-year contract for $10 million. The decision to pay a quarterback who’s never attempted a pass $5 million per year to be a backup is mind-numbing. In comparison, Seattle’s old backup, Seneca Wallace, is scheduled to make under $2 million this upcoming season and he’s actually won games at the NFL level.

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Now, those defending Seattle’s bold move will point to one fact – the team is trying to find the next Matt Schaub. When Atlanta dealt their third-round pick from the 2004 draft to Houston, he’d been in the league for three seasons and filled in admirably for the injured Michael Vick. In each of his first three seasons Schaub got on the field in Atlanta and saw his completion percentage rise from 47.1 to 66.7. This was a clear sign of progress, and Houston saw enough game footage from the former Virginia Cavalier to warrant a trade.

Fast-forward to the Charlie Whitehurst deal, and it’s hard to detect exactly what Seattle has seen to trigger this trade. Without regular season game action (his two rushing plays in his rookie season aside), how can Seattle have found anything to spark their interest? When the San Diego Chargers drafted Whitehurst out of Clemson in the third round of the 2006 draft, his role with the team was clear – start by holding a clipboard and learning the playbook for a year or two as a third-stringer, then grab a bigger clipboard as Philip Rivers’ backup.

Unfortunately for Whitehurst, Billy Volek remained in between him and that bigger clipboard.

Now property of the Seahawks, Whitehurst will probably sit behind the aging Matt Hasselbeck for a season. But if Hasselbeck can’t hold up for the entire season, which recent history has shown is a pretty safe bet to happen, it may be his time to shine this year. But unlike Schaub’s arrival in Houston, Seattle is in a full-fledged rebuilding mode. Former All-Pro tackle Walter Jones is likely retiring, leaving a gaping hole on the left side of the line, so that position needs to be addressed. Then there’s the receiving core, littered with number two options like T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch, as opposed to someone as gifted as Andre Johnson in Houston.

It must have taken Pete Carroll three months to realize that not every football team he works for has a rotating stable of top shelf quarterbacks, as Seattle’s acquisition of Charlie Whitehurst reeks of desperation for a franchise struggling to find its new identity.

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The Author:

Paul Kasper