Saturday, August 13, 2011

Three Seahawks Vulnerable to Trade

I wrote "vulnerable" because a) it's a unique word that oughta grab attention from the Google bots, and b) because it hopefully makes clear that this piece is laid-back speculation, not whisper-driven rumor. Nobody, including myself, has any inkling of these trades actually being imminent.

Anyway...when Pete Carroll and John Schneider burst onto the scene last year, they wasted no time in getting their program going. Leftovers from the previous regime were suddenly prime trade bait. QB Seneca Wallace, DE Darryl Tapp, and G Rob Sims were traded away before the draft; DE Lawrence Jackson and CB Josh Wilson during preseason; WR Deion Branch in October. Each fetched Seattle relatively paltry draft picks.

Not all these moves were popular, but there was a clear connecting link. The Seahawks were now guided by Carroll's philosophies at every position, and anyone belonging to the previous regime was subject to close scrutiny. Having modest value to the team didn't keep you safe; it just made you prone to being traded.

This was especially true for guys coming up on the end of their contracts. Wallace, Sims, and Wilson were all traded with a year left to play for Seattle; Jackson and Branch, two years. They signed Tapp to an RFA tender the day before trading him. Schneider was scrounging for any value he could get out of misfit players rather than letting them walk for nothing as free agents. Even if that meant jettisoning players who could still help the team for the present - and being forced to keep other misfit players in their stead because they had no trade value.

I bring up this phenomenon because we may yet see more of it. The pattern behind Seattle's recent trades inspired me to comb the current roster for guys who a) will soon hit free agency, b) are redundant and/or a scheme misfit, and c) could command any kind of value on the trade market.

John Carlson

This one's already buzzing. Zach Miller's signing makes Carlson second best, and tight end is a logjam of promising projects whose development Carlson might now be blocking. As a slower receiver who compensated with a knack for finding open zones, Carlson's greatest days may have left town with Matt Hasselbeck. He hasn't improved his blocking as much as hoped from his voluminous experience bailing out Sean Locklear, and he lacks the speed to fit this vertical offense. This makes him more of a slot receiver, and Seattle has plenty of those too. He's a free agent in 2012 and could turn a mid-round pick from a team desperate enough for a tight end.

Carroll has already insisted that Carlson has a role in this offense, and that anyone who disagrees "just doesn't get it". Interpretation? That's exactly the kind of strong verbiage you use to drive up a player's trade value. It sounds a lot like the way Carroll pumped up Deion Branch. Josh Wilson was allowed to play all the way through - and light up - the preseason before getting bumped, so Carlson might as well. Still, Carlson is very good at what he does, and it would be nice to have a 2-TE set that already knows what it's doing. I could see this going either way, with Seattle benefiting either way should the younger guys develop.

And no, I don't see Osi Umenyiora being part of the trade. Yeah, he'd be good, but he's also old, injury-prone, and redundant in Seattle's already-promising rotation.

Justin Forsett

I'm not thinking this just because J-Force sat out the San Diego game, but Leon Washington's health and increasing work on offense could make Forsett somewhat redundant. Leon has an extra gear on Forsett and is a better general weapon. Forsett is shifty, a willing and effective blocker, and decent as a returner, so that could keep him here. He's also Lynch's best friend, and although that doesn't matter at all, I'm a sucker for such stories and for Forsett.

Nevertheless, Seattle is trying other guys out at the position (veteran Thomas Clayton, Montana RB Chase Reynolds), and Forsett's the only guy they could seriously push (and they probably won't). You could interpret that as Schneider probing the roster for trade opportunities. I don't see Forsett commanding a whole lot on a lukewarm market, but considering he was a 7th-rounder to begin with, even a 5th would be a victory (though still not likely a starter). 

Deon Butler

Butler is losing precious time by sitting out with injury. Seattle has been flooded with intriguing, better-fitting (read: taller) WR prospects since April, of whom Kris Durham and Doug Baldwin appear NFL-viable. Butler flashed as a possession guy and determined big-play baller last year, earning admiration with gutsy TD catch that cost him a broken leg. But like Jennings, he may just not be strong enough to be more than a bit player. He struggles to get off jams, gets lost in traffic, suffers drops from time to time, and never developed as a return man.

The arrival of Tarvaris Jackson and his deep ball could give Butler a place here, but should he open the regular season on the PUP list, the other WR's will have six weeks to audition and solidify the offense without him. Butler could potentially get us the highest pick of this trio.

It'd be tough to see these fan favorites leave. It'll depend largely on what Seattle thinks of the burgeoning young talent on its camp roster. Carlson, Butler, and Forsett have the advantage of experience and proven production, and none of them are expensive or troublesome, so I wouldn't be surprised (or disappointed) if they stayed. But they are, to different degrees, replaceable.

And with this busy and pick-happy front office, that's sometimes all it takes to get shipped out of town.


  1. Was thinking the same about Forsett. With the money Leon got, he has to be on the field more and that can only come at the expense of Justin. Same with Butler. He just seems the odd man out.

    Carlson is a luxury after the commitment the Seahawks made with Miller. If McCoy or Morrah could step it up, I could see the team trying to move John this year. Byrd is interesting as well, but unless those 3 make a bold step up, holding on to John and letting him walk after the season is not a bad idea either.

    Welcome back to the revolution! Keep up the good work, really like the way you write, whether I agree or not. To me, reminds me of Farrar. He and Todd Breda were good at turning a phrase and bring insight into an discussion.

  2. This might be the toughest time of the year for a seller to fetch a good value on depth players. Every team in the NFL right now has roughly 100 guys on their roster, and soon they will have to make waves of cuts, inevitably cutting some depth players they liked.

    On top of that, I just don't know how much value Butler would have. Maybe Chicago might bite with a late rounder due to the TR connection and a need for WR talent, but other than that, I don't sense much interest.

    I could see a few teams offering a late rounder for Forsett, but I'd really hate to see Seattle make that trade. Forsett isn't just a guy who gets big yardage on 3rd and long draws- he's effective on 1st and 2nd downs as well. To me, he's easily the best RB on the roster right now, although that could change as the O-line takes shape.

    Carlson could and maybe SHOULD be traded. Anything less than a 3rd rounder is highway robbery, but whatever we get is better than nothing. Looking at the depth chart at TE, its hard to imagine the Seahawks opening the checkbook for Carlson 7 months from now. McCoy's ceiling is quite a bit higher than Carlson's and he's shown steady and encouraging development. Morrah has big play ability. Byrd is a veteran and looks like a quality #2 TE. If Seattle traded Carlson tomorrow, I don't think it would even hurt the 2011 team very much.

    If Seattle traded Carslon for a 4th tomorrow, it would sting a little bit as the value isn't great, but I'd applaud the move. Carroll can say what he wants publicly, but nobody spends big bucks on two tight ends.

  3. Another thing I forgot to mention, is that Forsett and Lynch are best friends. I don't think Lynch would be too happy about seeing that trade, and if I'm not mistaken, Lynch is a free agent in 2012, so keeping him happy is important, assuming the FO still feels Lynch is the centerpiece of their running game.

    Its a similar situation with Jackson and Rice, Rice's friendship with Jackson only adds more job security for Jackson.

  4. Carlson isn't going anywhere, I see the Hawks extending his contract by mid to late season. Not many teams have the depth at TE like the Hawks and god forbid Miller goes down Carlson can come in and fill that whole.. and McCoy or Byrd will fill the 3rd string spot.. Morrah is just about out of the competition do to his injury..

    Forsett isn't going anywhere either, I love Leon, but as a RB he isn't that great.. He's best in space (kick/punt returners) and I don't see Leon doing half as much for this offense that Forsett can, and if a 5th is the best the Hawks could get for Forsett we're better off keeping him...

    Butler is as good as gone, BMW; Rice, OBO, Tate, Durham, Baldwin -or- Lockette -or- Stanback, enough said I think, there's no room for him in this WR crop..

  5. @"Anonymous"
    I'd say that's a pretty naive if not ignorant response. Carlson is a poor man's Zach Miller who none the less probably deserves more money than the Seahawks could responsibly afford to additionally throw at the TE position. McCoy has shown a knack for the big play and a ton more upside as a blocker while Morrah and Byrd are both competent pass receivers with upside. Where in there does it make sense to extend Carlson?

    Forsett is a talented guy with big limitations in his game. When many of his skills are redundant relative to Leon's it makes sense that he is an expendable piece. He lacks the breakaway speed Leon possesses and doesn't have the strength and sturdiness between the tackles of Lynch. In fact he's extremely vulnerable at the first level.

  6. I think depth is a valid consideration, Brodie (and let's be polite). Morrah's injury is another one; should he fail to get himself practice time, the 'Hawks may want Carlson more for his experience in the new offense. The upside is there for the others, but Carlson's upside is here now. It's a cost-benefit question with a lot of factors.

    I'd agree that Leon is a legit weapon in any offense, based on his time with the Jets. With the money he's getting and the new kickoff rules, I could Forsett becoming redundant.

    I also agree that all these guys are starter-quality and that accepting late-round picks in exchange is a pretty poor return.

  7. The team works hard to build such quality depth at skilled positions - I can't imagine why they'd virtually give it away.

    Forsett can back up either Lynch or Washington, as a quality 3-down back. Maybe he takes a back seat to these two, but having him on the team is more than a luxury.

    Butler is (was) faster then any WR on the roster. That's what he brings to the table, and adds a nice compliment to the size (BMW,Rice, Durham) and shiftiness (Tate, Baldwin) to the position. Lockette doesn't have near the experience (college, pro) as Butler, and can't be considered his equal.

    I am less concerned about the TE position, but I believe Carlson adds a ton when you can put two #1s on the field at the same time. Keeping McCoy and PUPing Morrah may be how they do it, roster-wise.

    I don't believe any trade of these three would bring anything close to their value to the Seahawks, and I also don't believe any of them fall in the Tapp/Branch/Wilson category.

  8. Well, you guys are all speaking conventional wisdom here like I would be, but last year Carroll and Schneider threw that to the wind. I'm trying to guess what they WILL do, not what they SHOULD do. There seems to be a divide there.

    Tapp/Sims/Wilson were all starters. There was NOBODY on the roster to replace any of them at the time. They got traded anyway, for peanuts. That reads like a strong statement on how much this front office loves draft picks.

    Butler/Forsett/Carlson not only have viable replacements on the roster, but are probably of more worth to other teams than any of last year's trade bait.

    I agree with the questions of value and under-appreciated depth, but that didn't stop the front office going all trade-crazy last year. Do you think it happens again?

  9. Brandon - you may be right, but I don't see the circumstances as similar. Tapp/Wilson/Branch didn't fit into PC's scheme/plan/whatever, but by virtue of having played all last year (until injuries) and given PC's high praise of Butler at the beginning of the season, for instance (he was the 'most improved' player, or some such) and Forsett's character/ability/whatever I just don't see the circumstances as similar. Branch didn't belong in Seattle - never did, in fact - and it's no surprise he was traded. Wilson didn't fit the proto-type at the position - for better or worse.

    Carlson, again, may be the one most likely traded. Butler probably gets cut before a trade, if he ends up leaving the team. I just can't see Forsett gone under any circumstances.

    But that's just me, and I am also considering what they might do, as opposed to what I think they SHOULD do.

  10. And for the record, I didn't like the Wilson trade at all, because I think fast, talented CBs a rare commodity and something not to be given up.

    But like I said above, Wilson didn't fit what they wanted at the position (as we can clearly see now).

  11. With the commitment to the running game I think Forsett is safely a Seahawk,and I hope I'm right about that. Carlson and Butler should be kept...for awhile. Come October, they'll be worth more. Especially Carlson. A third would be sweet. I would hesitate to trade him for a fourth, but this FO probably wouldn't. Deon to Chicago is a major possibility. As noted above.

  12. @FWBrodie:

    If the Hawks can keep Carlson for around $1 Mill. a year than I think it's well worth it, Carlson will only get better learning from a guy like Miller.. I'm not saying John will sign for so cheap, But I can only dream, Right?

    Now, As for Forsett, Until Leon Washington proves he can be the jitterbug RB in this offense it would be completely foolish to trade Forsett so soon..

    I don't get the whole we need 5th-6th rd draft picks mentality, When we have solid players already a draft pick is just that a DRAFT PICK, It doesn't mean you will draft a player better than the player you traded it for...

    and another thing FWBrodie "naive" & "ignorant" is thinking this 2 guys are so disposable...

  13. If we're talking about what we SHOULD do, I agree that we should stop giving away starters for draft picks of a tier (5th-rounders, etc.) that usually don't become starters.

  14. Anonymous #1 = Real name JimAugust 14, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Brandon I like your blog, and I feel you have good points and I agree we shouldn't trade off starting caliber players for low draft picks.. I just didn't agree on the players you selected (besides Butler), Carlson & Forsett's trade value is lower than their value to the Hawks, which makes a trade for either player a none question..IMO, that's all, keep the good reads come!..

  15. Keep the good reads come in!..

  16. While it raised a few question marks when starters were traded for low round picks last year, I was gently reminded by Johnny over at (highly recommended!!!) that they were starters on a truly crappy 2009 team, brought in by a GM whose concepts had proven tragically mistaken. And the guys we're speculating on right now were key parts of a roster that went 7-9 last year.

    As we howl about losing our favorite players from a team that posted a losing record, just like last year's preseason, it'll be good to check how many of our roster cuts/trades are making any impact anywhere else in the league. Answer: not much. And I would expect that to hold true this year, as well.

    I needed to look no further than the Chicago playoff game, when our top 2 TEs went out and we had to scrap most of the playbook early in the second quarter. You can never have too many versatile, big and talented Tight Ends on your roster, especially when there's only one Fullback.

    Force is better depth for both Leon and Beastie than anyone else on the roster behind him, and most likely much better than anyone about to be cut elsewhere, even to 53.

    As for Butler, I think they would want to see what they have before cutting him loose, as injury reclamations such as Leon and Thurmond are a specialty of this team, now.

    If they all got traded for middling picks, keep in mind Mebane was a 3rd, Thurmond was a 4th, and Leon was a 5th. Also, the window of intensive scouting from Pete's college days is still open for the next year or two, so picks will be hugely important, and, except at RB, the depth at these particular positions is outstanding.

  17. Good thoughts, Bleeds.

    I agree that Carlson is too valuable to let go. None of the other TE's have proven themselves at the starter level to me.

    However, I disagree that just because guys were drafted by Ruskell onto a losing team makes them bad, which is kind of what Johnny's logic suggests. He's a smart guy, but those players were underrated IMO.