Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Will the Church Van Roll Away?

By Chris Sullivan

While the bulk of our offseason has focused on tagging Leroy Hill, we must now look at our other players who will become Free Agents in just a few short days. First up is the only guy who deserves to be first up: Leonard Weaver.

Weaver responded to nearly being cut at the beginning of the 2007 season by stepping into the suddenly-retired Mack Strong's enormous shoes. Struggling early with blocking, Weaver took to learning his new role as lead blocker intensely, and when given the chance to the carry the ball rarely disappointed. By year-end, Weaver was cemented as the starter for the coming year. Though the Hawks drafted Owen Schmitt in the fifth round of 2008's draft, no one really expected him to compete with The Church Van, and he didn't. Weaver had a very good year in 2008, and was arguably one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal year. Few Hawk fans will forget his two-touchdown 100+ receiving yard game. Weaver was selected as a Pro-Bowl alternate and was perhaps the only player on the Seahawks other than Mebane and Walt to deserve such an honor (not that Mebane got the honor, but that's another story).

It appears as though Weaver will test the free agent waters this weekend and it seems likely that he will find a suitor willing to pay much more than the Seahawks are. Don't be surprised to see the Rams go hard after him, and any team that is short on tight end and running back talent may look to bolster their ranks with Weaver. I believe that Ruskell, Mora and Knapp like him a lot, but do not see him as an integral part of the offense -- a fullback is, after all, a fullback, and a fullback in Knapp's system does not necessarily seem too special.

While it would be unfortunate to see Weaver go, and he may well be someone we look at in the next few years and say "Why!? Whyyy!?", I see it as being unlikely that we spend much money to try and retain him. He is clearly the top FB free agent this offseason and -- as Weaver's agent suggested -- many teams are likely to view him as a bruising RB or even a hybrid FB-TE. That is not how the Seahawks view him, and it doesn't seem likely that we'll start looking at him that way. The Hawks have more pressing free agent needs and, like DJ Hackett and Niko Koutovides before him, Weaver may well go on to test greener pastures.

What do you guys think of this? How might our offense be impacted if it doesn't have this clear threat on the roster? Do you think we will manage to sign him after all? ~END~