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.
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.
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).
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.