Friday, February 6, 2009

The Wide Receiver Situation

by: Chris Sullivan

One of the real areas of need for the Seahawks in 2009 would appear to be the wide receiver position (at least, thats what the media keeps telling us South Alaskans). While I'm uncertain that this will be the target area for Mr. Ruskell, I think it's got about as good a chance as any other position. I thought we'd take a look at the potential moves that could be made this offseason.

Current Roster:

Deion Branch -- Due to make a hair over $7 million this year, Branch has shown flashes of brilliance but has never assumed the full role of the number one receiver, due in part to injuries and in part to being a bit green in Holmgren's offense. This will be an interesting move for Ruskell--does he trust the skills of Branch? Will any WR be worth $7M in Knapp's offense? I would expect some sort of renegotiation if Branch is to stay on in 2009, otherwise look for a potential trade. Branch may command a mid-to-late second round pick, but it is hard to gauge his true value due to his injuries.

Nate Burleson -- I think Nasty Nate proved a lot in 2007 and is in a good position to step up and be a number one in this league. That said, an ACL tear is hard to come back from, as we saw this year with Branch. Burleson is going to be making a hair over $4 million this year, but that figure seems fairly appropriate if he is to step up and be an offensive leader again. Further, his injury last year decreases his trade value and with this being his contract year (more or less--he's under contract through 2010, but the last year is voidable) I think he offers a lot of potential for that $4 million.

Bobby Engram -- Matt wants him and Engram probably wants to stick around, but Ruskell has a price and he won't likely stray from that. The ball is going to be in Bobby's court, like it or not. It will be hard to see him go, but I don't really expect him back.

Koren Robinson -- Thanks for the memories, Koren, and I hope you get a job somewhere in the NFL. Koren was a highlight of the depressing season, but I don't see any way he is in blue and green next year.

Ben Obamanu -- A whole lot of promise is going to get you nowhere if you don't play up to your potential. Obamanu was IR'd last year with a shoulder injury, mostly because of the depth we had at WR going into the regular season (ha! But remember, we did!). I think he would have been fine to play after 6-8 weeks, but that just didn't happen. Obo will be competing this year, but he does not have a guaranteed pass. None of the young guys do.

Logan Payne -- Payne impressed everyone last year and earned a roster spot, but was taken out in Week 2 with a questionable hit. Same goes for Payne as went for Burleson: he has to prove that he is fully back from the injury. If he's not, his roster spot is in question. However, if Engram does not re-sign, Payne's stock increases exponentially. I think he has a very, very good chance of being a Seahawk in 2009 and getting a chance to perform.

Jordan Kent -- How many shots will he get? I think Training Camp / Pre-Season 2009 is his last chance with us. It's obvious Ruskell likes him, and with good cause, but Kent will have to fight it out for a spot. It's very unlikely that there is no additional competition this year, especially since Ruskell has said that he won't get caught in the same position again. I honestly don't like Kent's chances to make the team this year, but I'm hoping he surprises me.

Courtney Taylor -- Well, we finally saw why Ruskell likes Taylor by the end of 2008, but he's another young guy with a lot of potential and little application of that potential. Taylor will be in the same boat as Obomanu and Kent -- prove that you should be here or GTFO.

Billy McMullen -- Just kiddin'.

Free Agents:

TJ Houshmanzadeh -- The number one free agent WR this year, Housh is clearly a top talent and deserves to play for a winner. However, because he is the top FA in the class, I see his value inflating beyond what Ruskell values a WR at, and thus I don't like the chances of him walking through the tunnel at Qwest 8 times a year. There is still a chance, but I'd put it at less than 25%.

Antonio Bryant -- A stud when he wants to be, Bryant has historically been a locker room cancer. There's just no chance of it.

Lance Moore and Devery Henderson -- Now we're talking. Moore was a stud last year for the Saints and has a lot of the tools and traits (from what I know about him) to be a "Ruskell Guy." With both Moore and Devery Henderson being free agents this year, I see there being a very good chance that one stays with New Orleans and one leaves. Moore is the more highly touted one at the moment, but Devery Henderson has been a consistent performer since his rookie year. I would be happy with either of these guys next year.

Nate Washington -- He can stretch the field, which is nice, but that's not the biggest need for us at the moment. He had a decent year in 2008, but had stretches of games where you couldn't even tell if he was playing. If the price is right, he could be added, but it isn't worth getting excited about until we see him in our roster list.

Malcolm Floyd -- A favorite around Seahawk Addicts, and with good cause. When given a chance to perform, Floyd consistently performs. When not, Floyd doesn't complain. He appears to be a Ruskell guy with a lot of talent and should be ready to step up and prove himself. He seems like he could really fit the west coast offense well, from what I've seen of him. He's also 6'5" and 225 lbs, which is what is known as a gigantic target. Signing Floyd would make Kent considerably less important, though Kent could still likely trounce him in a foot race.

Reggie Williams -- A local favorite, Williams excelled in college at the University of Washington (arguably the last person to hold that claim, hah) but has proven a bit of a bust in the NFL. Being a local guy and UW alumnus (like Mora) helps him out, as does his experience with our new WRs coach, Prince. If the price is right, it's possible that he'll be given a chance here. If the price is wrong, it's likely Bob Barker will be face-punched.


I'll assess the potential draft candidates once we get a bit closer to the draft and see what we've taken care of in the free agent market. ~END~