Seahawks appear to get better quickly thanks to Trader Tim Ruskell
They moved up. They moved down. They drafted for today and traded for tomorrow. After making you think that last season's 4-12 record was...
Seattle Times staff columnist
RENTON — They moved up. They moved down. They drafted for today and traded for tomorrow.
After making you think that last season's 4-12 record was an aberration, a brief illness that could be cured with a new coach, a healthy roster and just a tiny bit of tweaking, the Seattle Seahawks were the grand movers and shakers on this NFL draft weekend.
They addressed almost all of their needs and put themselves in a position, maybe later this week, to fit the last piece, a veteran cornerback (Ken Lucas?) into the 2009 puzzle.
This was Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell in the role of Trader Tim, wheeling and dealing for 48 hours. Trading out of the second round and, remarkably, getting a 2010 first-round pick in exchange. Then, sneaking back into that round by trading third- and fourth-round picks and choosing a much-needed offensive lineman.
And after doing all that Saturday, Trader Tim was dealing again Sunday, moving more picks to muscle back into the third round and snag a wide receiver.
In a cyclone of a weekend, Ruskell got arguably the best athlete in the draft, the most game-ready player in the draft in linebacker Aaron Curry.
He addressed the issue of depth on the offensive line by choosing Oregon center Max Unger in the second round. Unger will get reps at both guard and center.
Ruskell got a first-round pick from Denver in 2010, a year that is supposed to be stacked with talent. And considering some of the Broncos' curious moves this spring, that 2010 pick could land the Hawks in one of the draft's top five slots.
Like a pool hustler, every shot Ruskell took seemed to set up the next shot.
"I'd like to tell you it was smooth and easy, but there was some hair pulling," Ruskell said after the draft was done. "There was angst on all of it, but we were very happy once we did the deals and [happy] with the players that we got."
Ruskell was dealin' like Jason Kidd. Pulling draft picks out of a hat like a Vegas lounge magician.
Presto! Aaron Curry. Voila! Max Unger. Abracadabra! A 2010 first-round pick. Hocus-pocus! Deon Butler, a third-round pick Sunday, a lightning bolt of a wide receiver, whose 4.38 speed could make him a threat as a pass catcher and kick returner.
"This is one of the greatest feelings in the world," Ruskell said. "It's kind of like a big game, or at the end of a championship season. There's relief. You felt like you did well. You felt like you got the guys you wanted to get. You know you helped the football team. It's a really good feeling. Yes we're tired, but it's a good tired."
Ruskell spent this weekend in the zone, like Ben Gordon in the fourth quarter, Brad Lidge in the ninth inning, Tiger Woods on the back nine.
"It was brilliant," said offensive coordinator Greg Knapp of Ruskell's draft derring do.
It was a hard-boiled weekend. A weekend when the general manager was in charge.
Emboldened by the Curry pick, Ruskell pulled the franchise tag off starting linebacker Leroy Hill, making Hill an unrestricted free agent. Already Hill missed a recent voluntary minicamp and the Hawks don't want to go through the melodrama of a long holdout.
Ruskell said he still hopes to sign Hill. And coach Jim Mora, who talked with Hill on Sunday, said his outside linebacker is "very motivated to be a Seattle Seahawk."
Still, losing Hill is a possibility the Hawks have to consider. A possible one-year replacement could be future Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks, who once played for Hawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Tampa Bay.
Brooks is 36, but he still had enough left last season to make the Pro Bowl. He would be a perfect mentor for Curry.
"We continue to negotiate," Ruskell said regarding Hill. "There is good faith on both sides to want to get something done."
Even with the uncertainty with Hill, this was the best weekend for this franchise since the Hawks beat the Washington Redskins in a wild-card playoff game in early January 2008.
Seattle has a much better football team and a much better future today than it had when the draft began Saturday morning, before Trader Tim started dealing like Donald Trump, making the Seahawks look like contenders again.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
email@example.com | 206-464-2176
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