Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Mar 2010

Seahawks Trade For Charlie Whitehurst, Sign Extension

It appears that the Seahawks are acquiring Charlie Whitehurst with the idea that he'll be their next starting quarterback. Seattle's agreed to send San Diego a third-round pick while swapping second-round picks, and are giving Whitehurst a two-year contract at $5 million per year.

As Gregg Rosenthal notes, "Give Carroll and G.M. John Schneider credit for targeting their guy and having the confidence to go get him. They just better be right."

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Mar 2010

35 comments, Last at 22 Mar 2010, 8:32pm by R. Carney

Comments

1
by coltrane23 :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 6:31pm

Well, we'll find out next season if he's worth it or not, because Hasselbeck will be injured at some point during the season. As far as I can tell, they still haven't done anything to shore up the OL other than change coaches. There's still time to do that, but this is an odd pursuit to me.

5
by James-London :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 6:58pm

Aren't there supposed to be a number of good OT's in this years draft? Two top 15 picks should help there. Either that or Walter Jones is getting the full Steve Austin treatment on his kness...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

17
by coltrane23 :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 12:43am

Could be, I just don't follow the college game closely. I haven't heard about any franchise LTs in the draft this year, but maybe there's a diamond in the rough. I know that Alex Gibbs doesn't require blue-chip talent to run his scheme, so I'm not freaking out yet about no movement on the OL. Just odd to me that they would pursue a 3rd string QB so actively when there are so many other holes on the team.

2
by Joseph :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 6:36pm

Okay--anybody who watches San Diego preseason games--is this worth it??
I mean, dropping 20 spots (in what has been called a "loaded" draft) is one thing, but the third rounder, too?? I mean, why not do this on draft day?
As mentioned above, Carroll & Co. better be right--for this price, he's got to be at least Aaron Brooks good--although doing as well as Schaub would be more in line with his price tag. If he hits Brunell status, then I would say that Seattle did good with this trade.

4
by mm (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 6:51pm

If you think the guy can play QB for you, better to get him in ASAP so he learns the offense as soon as possible, and maybe even gets some of the receivers to work out with him.

10
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 8:55pm

Yeah. I mean, he's been hot-and-cold in the preseason, but that's not an amazing sample, especially on these Chargers; whoever they were planning to get at #40 hasn't studied under Norv Turner, or warmed up before an AFCC game, with no clue whether the starter would play or not. If you think that AJ Smith knew what he was doing drafting Whitehurst in the 3rd, this sounds like a win-win.

19
by Shalimar (not verified) :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 5:16am

As a Chargers fan, I would rather have Whitehurst than Volek as the backup. I have more confidence in Whitehurst developing into a top 10 QB than anyone in the draft this year including Bradford. Not that any prospect is ever a sure thing, and this isn't a bad trade for San Diego since Rivers isn't going anywhere.

26
by KarlFA :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:33am

What exactly is this confidence in Whitehurst based on? His collegiate stats definitely don't compare to the top two prospects this year (or Tim Tebow's, for that matter). He was not regarded well enough to be drafted in the first round in 2006. He has yet to throw a regular season pass.

Karl, Miami

28
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 1:46pm

Whitehurst did start a lot of games in college, though - three and a half years' worth, which is more than Clausen and a lot more than Bradford. That means it's reasonable to be more confident in whatever opinion you formed of him by watching him play in college than you can with those two guys. Personally, I thought he was quite a good prosepect - good enough arm, pretty accurate, made decent decisions. For the record, despite the worrying lack of data, I am a huge fan of Bradford, who I think has a real (far higher than Whitehurst) chance of being an out-and-out star.

Comparing anyone to Tebow statistically is pointless. The issue with Tebow is how well he will be able to adapt his game to the NFL, not whether he was a great college player. I suspect the answer is not very, at least in the sense that he will never be a successful quarterback in an orthodox professional system.

30
by Shalimar (not verified) :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 2:06pm

I like what I have read about him and like what he has done in pre-season games. College stats depend to a degree on where and in what system you play, and being well regarded in the draft seems to have very little correlation to how good a QB becomes in the NFL.

Having said that, I didn't realize Whitehurst will be 28 when the season starts. He doesn't have alot of time left to grow into the position, he's either ready now or is unlikely to ever be. So I guess I don't like him better than a few of the draft-available QBs this year.

25
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:27am

Schaub cost a lot more than this - two second rounders and a swap of the 8th and 10th overall picks, roughly equivalent to a mid first round pick according to the standard chart. I think there's a decent chance Whitehurst will be roughly as good as Schaub, but this deal will be an absolute steal if he is. For the trade to be worthwhile, he probably only needs to be . . . I dunno, David Garrard? Brian Griese? Jon Kitna?

3
by Yaguar :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 6:36pm

I considered Whitehurst better than a third-round pick when the Chargers took him there a few years ago. I'd still stand by that now.

24
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:22am

Likewise. I liked him enough to draft him in the second round of the FO reader mock draft that year (as the heir apparent to Warner in Arizona), and I still think there's every chance he'll be a good player. I really don't think this is too much to give up for him.

6
by McAnonymous (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 7:31pm

They better hope he's not another Cleo Lemon. Well played AJ.

7
by Doug Farrar :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 7:47pm

Not real sure about the wisdom of dropping 20 picks in the second round (wondering if Colt McCoy might be available around #40), but if this move keeps Pete Carroll away from Jimmy Clausen, I'm fine with it.

15
by coltrane23 :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 12:29am

I kinda had Colt McCoy in mind as well for the Seahawks, although it's my understanding he's considered smallish for an NFL QB. I have no opinion on Clausen, never saw him play. I don't watch a lot of NCAA games, except for the bowls.

33
by speedegg :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 9:03pm

Really? I thought Clausen would be a better option than McCoy....is there more smoke and fire to the work attitude/ethic/spoiled brat/questionable teammate stories?

8
by Enigma (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 8:13pm

"Seattle signed an untested Matt Hasselbeck to a 5-year,$24M contract in August of 2001, when Hasselbeck had made precisely zero starts in his NFL career. Hasselbeck had at least attempted a pass in the NFL, but still, (Adam) Schefter and (Peter) King have been doing this too long to not remember that Whitehurst's new teammate signed a very similar contract."

To that point Hasselbeck had attempted 29 passes in his career.

12
by tuluse :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 9:15pm

True, but Holmgren had drafted and coached him in Greenbay.

9
by MJK :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 8:29pm

Ummm...what about Hasselbeck? I know he's not as good as we thought he was a few years back, when people were putting him next to Brady, Manning, and Palmer (come to think of it, Palmer's not as good as that, either), and I know he seems to be injured a lot, but my impression is that he's still an above-average or at least league average QB...and such guys don't grow on trees (or, generally, magically sprout out of third string guys who have never completed an NFL pass). And yes, I know Tom Brady was, at one point, a FOURTH string QB who had never completed an NFL pass, but I think that's more the exception than the rule.

Anyway, I don't follow enough Seattle to know...is Hasslebeck really done enough that it's worth giving up so much draft picks and cash to try to desparately get a replacement?

11
by Neoplatonist Bolthead (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 9:00pm

Yeah. If he has a year he has a year, and they'll maybe let him go out on his own schedule (or Mother Nature's). But Hasselbeck is done and Whitehurst was going to waste behind Rivers and Volek (heck, they don't even need a #3; Rivers is young, they trust Volek, and if worse comes to worst there's Legedu Naanee). Besides, they spread the value out nicely: the pick is lost next year, but the value is mostly in the trade-down, which happens in a year when they have two firsts and no third. Well played on all sides, I say.

13
by Brendan Scolari :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 9:40pm

Hass is awful, seriously, he's really bad. He's completely done. Alex Smith is the best quarterback in the division now, as sad as that is to say.

That said, I'm pretty thrilled (as someone who does not like the Hawks) that the Hawks would give up this much to get Whitehurst, I can't see how they could be so sure he's any good. But, maybe they know something none of us do. (shrugs)

14
by C (not verified) :: Wed, 03/17/2010 - 9:46pm

You say that people were too high on Hasselback a few years ago... Maybe you are correct but he did go to the Super Bowl, granted with a good RB and good O-Line ( bad WR's though but then again it was a WCO) but I think the pendulum has swung the other way to where people don't appreciate him at all.

Yes, he's bald, and isn't getting any younger but it's funny how quick people want to dump decent vet QB's for some young guy that probably won't become anything anyway. Instead of saying you want to replace Mcnabb, Hasselback, Warner, Delhomme, Favre, or any other guy for Kolb, Whithearst, Leinart, Moore, T-Jack or whatever... then just realize there's a good chance that other guy won't be good.

I used to watch Whitehearst at Clemson and thought he looked pretty good to the point where he'd be a 1st or 2nd round pick. He was a 3rd rounder, had some spotty play at times but that's something to work on right? I'm intrieged by him. I watched him some in preseason last year but didn't see enough either way. I will tell you though that after him sitting a few years he's a better bet than some rookie stepping in right away, 1st rounder or not.

16
by coltrane23 :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 12:38am

Hasselbeck at his best was a top 10 quarterback, but he's slipped to somewhere in the teens in my mind. He still makes some very good throws, seems to make some good audible decisions, and he's good as a leader of the offense; however, he still makes some "WTF?" throws that end up as INTs. His primary problems lately have been lack of WRs, lack of a realistic running threat, lack of protection, each in varying degrees as the season progresses. Mainly, he's 35 and he can't finish a season at this point in his career. He's not terrible, but he's getting older and it's time to find a replacement.

Signing Whitehurst to a 2 year contract at $5M/yr seems odd to me, because if he really is good then he's going to be expensive when you try to resign him in two years. And if he's no good, you're paying him $5M. Not sure what the going rate is for backup QBs, but that seems like a lot of money to me.

29
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 1:51pm

$2.5m a year is really not that excessive for a back-up quarterback. The Texans gave Dan Orlovsky a $9.15m three year deal, and that was a situation where he had absolutely no prospect of competing for the starting job. As for why they didn't go for a longer deal, if Whitehurst thinks he can be a starter somewhere there's no way he'd sign a long term deal for anything like that litte per annum, nor should he. Let's face it, discovering that you have a franchise quarterback on your hands and you need to extend him (or even franchise him) is not the worst problem in the world to have.

Edit: I really need to work on my reading comprehension. I read 2 years $5m, not 2 years $5m/year. That's clearly not back-up money. At the same time, with such a short contract and the first year (at least) uncapped, you're not taking much of a risk going forwards - you can cut him without creating much dead money. The real point is still that Whitehurst clearly thinks that he can earn himself more money by getting a chance to show what he can do than he could by taking a long-term deal now. Good for him, I say.

31
by BigWoody (not verified) :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 4:34pm

Latest word is that it is $8 million for 2 yrs + $2 mil in incentives. Getting more reasonable.

18
by speedegg :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 1:38am

Might be a good pick, I remember Whitehurst had a good Lewin projection based on college starts and completion percentage, BUT he was taken in the 3rd round, which is where the system strays.

Still swapping a second round pick to get Whitehurst and the 2-yr deal? Maybe they felt with two 1st round picks they could afford to do that. Maybe they might be using Whitehurst as a place setter for a future QB in the 2011 draft? Wonder what QB they're targeting to fit their West Coast Offense....

21
by Danish Denver-Fan :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 9:57am

Is Carrol a WCO-guy? I'm asking because I don't know.

If he isn't, there's no need to draft a WCO QB - there is, besides Carlson maybe, almost no talent on that offense. So might as well go BPA on QB instead of searching for a guy who fits the system...

22
by The Guy You Don't Want to Hear (not verified) :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 10:42am

I've been wondering that about Carroll all off-season and no one seems to be willing to answer, so I looked and saw that his offensive coordinator is Jeremy Bates. He at least has mostly worked with WCO teams in past, so I guess that's a reasonable sign that they're planning on sticking with the scheme.

23
by Mr Shush :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 11:13am

Alex Gibbs' zone-blocking running game is designed to work with a West Coast Offense variant involving a lot of PA rollouts, as run by Shanahan, Kubiak and (at least in Atlanta with Vick) Greg Knapp. I'd say it's pretty much a given that Seattle will be running an offense with its routes in Walsh's, even if it's not quite the same version they had in place under Holmgren or Mora. It's wierd to think that this year there will probably be three teams running that "Mountain" offense that for so long was the sole preserve of the Broncos (heck, could soon be four if Shanahan the Younger gets a head coaching job), and none of them are in Denver.

32
by speedegg :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 8:57pm

Yes, Coach Carroll is absolutely a WCO guy. His offensive scheme morphed from a Norm Chow BYU-style offense with "traditional" pro-style, man-on-man blocking to a WCO offense with an Alex Gibbs style zone-blocking scheme. In fact, after that Las Vegas Bowl loss Carroll invited Gibbs to advise his staff on blocking schemes. The main thing they kept from Coach Chow's offense was moving the QB out and changing his launch point so defenses couldn't focus on an area in the pocket.

Link below to a Dr. Saturday post on the Norm Chow vs Pete Carroll/Lane Kiffin/Steve Sarkissan style offenses, pass protection, WR routes combinations, etc:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Deconstructi...

Carroll has often said before year one at USC he had a lot of ideas, held back and let his coordinators take charge, but going into year two he became more assertive on his way since his pride (and job) were on the line. If he was going down, he wanted to go down his way.

Getting Coach Bates to USC, then to Seattle means they keep the WCO system. I'm not sure if Whitehurst is accurate enough to thrive in a WCO, but he might be good enough to survive. The next craziest thing they could do is draft a TE and convert him to tackle.....

20
by Dean :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 9:47am

And yet another team indirectly says "no" to the dogkiller.

27
by Sean McCormick :: Thu, 03/18/2010 - 1:44pm

Whitehurst was highly regarded for his physical skills coming out of college, and he's had several years to acclimate himself to the pro game. It's not a situation like Hasselbeck or Schaub who lit it up every preseason, but Whitehurst is certainly an intriguing prospect who clearly has the tools to be an NFL starter. I don't know that it would prevent me from drafting, say, Sam Bradford (who ironically enough reminds me a great deal of Philip Rivers, the guy who was keeping Whitehurst on the bench in SD), but it's a very acceptable risk/reward attempt to provide a long-term solution to the QB position.

34
by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Fri, 03/19/2010 - 8:31pm

Did Denny Green have GM duties in Arizona that year?

35
by R. Carney (not verified) :: Mon, 03/22/2010 - 8:32pm

Charlie Whitehurst? Did this article get posted early? because this is clearly some sort of April Fool's thread. Charlie Whitehurst? How did this conversation go?

Schneider: "Hey I've got an extra bag of balls from last season, I'll give them to you straight up for Charlie Whitehurst"

Smith: "I don't know John, we're really high on this kid, even though he'llbe 28 on Opening Day and has never attempted a pass. You'll have to throw in your thrid rounder and swap seconds with us" (covering up the receiver and chuckling out loud to Norv Turner)

Schneider: "You drive a hard bargain, A.J. I guess that's why you're one of the best, but I guess you've got yourself a deal." (passes the bong to Carroll)

Hey look at the bright side, when Hasselbeck is done and Whitehurst has learned this offense and somehow turns out to be a good player you'll have a solid 4 year window of mediocrity.