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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

May 4, 2011 at 12:00 PM

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Reading between the lines: Matt Hasselbeck's future

Posted by Danny O'Neil

Offseason programming note: After that one week tease of football news, NFL fans are back to following the trail of litigation in search of clues of when the league year might start. Here's the first in a series of previews of questions Seattle must answer, and there's no bigger issue than quarterback.

The biggest question coming out of Seattle's draft wasn't necessarily about who the Seahawks chose, but about who they didn't.

Namely, they didn't pick a quarterback.

Now, that's not all that exceptional. Only 12 of the league's 32 teams did choose a quarterback during the NFL Draft. But for the Seahawks, it was not only the sixth time in eight years that they failed to choose a quarterback, but they have one quarterback under contract of next season -- backup Charlie Whitehurst. And even then, there's only one year left on Whitehurst's deal.

So what's going to happen? Well, that question isn't going to be answered until the league year begins and Seattle can either re-sign Matt Hasselbeck, trade for a quarterback or find some duct tape and baling wire in the free-agent market and do a patch job.

And maybe it's the history major in me, but before we look to the future and forecast what will happen, let's survey the past. Specifically, take a look at how the Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has spoken about Hasselbeck over the past four months.

Now, I'm not saying we take out a secret decoder ring, and look for the hidden message, but I think it is instructive to see how the characterizations have changed.

We don't even have to get in the "Way Back Machine." It's just the "A Little While Back Machine" as we rewind to Carroll's press conference held three days after the playoff loss to the Chicago Bears when Carroll pointed out the first individual meeting was conducted with Carroll, Hasselbeck and general manager John Schneider.

"The very first meeting after our team meeting was John and I and Matt. You gauge what you think of that in terms of a sense of urgency that we couldn't have done it more quickly. That's already happened, and we'll move from there. We have a good starting point, and I love what Matt has brought to this program well before I got here, and what he did for us this year and what he did for me to help getting this program started. I'm not forgetting about any of that. We'll deal with it hopefully with all of the due respect and regard and then we'll come up with a really good plan with it. We're on it."
    -- Coach Pete Carroll, Jan. 19, 2011

OK. Well that seems very straightforward. They're on it.

Well, fast forward about five weeks, let me set the scene for you. It's Indianapolis, Carroll is attending the scouting combine, and he stops to meet in the lobby of the Downtown Marriott. The collective bargaining agreement will expire in a week, and there's still some thought Hasselbeck could be re-signed before that happens. After all, he signed just days before free agency began back in 2005.

"All I'll say is we've been working hard. I told you how we felt about it from the start. We continue to work hard. There's a bit of a deadline coming up. We're meeting. We're working at stuff now."
    Coach Pete Carroll, Feb. 26, 2011

Well, the collective-bargaining agreement expired with no deal between the team and Hasselbeck, and he entered the limbo of the lockout unsigned.

So where do things currently stand? Carroll was asked that last week as Seattle prepared for the draft. If re-signing Hasselbeck was described as a priority back in January, what was the situation now?

"Well we had good dialogue to get started, and we went up to the time frame that we had available so that's all we could do. Then it ended. We weren't able to get anything done at that time. So when the opportunities arise again where we can get going on it again we'll be right after it again and we'll see where it all fits. Some time has passed now. There could be some things that have changed. We'll just have to see when we start to re-open the conversations."
    -- Coach Pete Carroll, April 26, 2011

We now turn the floor over to you. Do you see any significance in how Carroll's characterizations have evolved over the past four months? That's calling for conjecture, but then again, the title of this post is about "Reading between the lines."

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