How long will it be until Charlie Whitehurst, Seattle’s new QB, takes Matt Hasselbeck’s job? Because beyond the money that Whitehurst will be paid over the next two seasons, NFL teams don’t give away draft picks — and move back 20 spots in the second round — to bring in backups.
Instead, they make those deals and spend those valuable picks to upgrade their roster — especially when there’s a new head coach in Pete Carroll. This entire roster will be turned over in the next two years, and it’s starting at the QB position.
Asked about the already assumed QB controversy for the Seahawks, Carroll, the former USC head coach, told Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times, “Charlie is coming in here to battle. He's going to show where he fits into the whole thing. He doesn't have a lot of playing time in the regular season, but he has logged a lot of time in the preseason. ... We would not have done this if we didn't think we were bringing in a highly competitive player. We're counting on Matt to lead this thing, and Charlie is going to take his shot at it every turn.”
From a veteran player’s perspective, any time a coach uses the words “battle” or “compete,” and he’s talking about your position, he’s looking to replace you. Sure, Carroll said the politically correct thing about Hasselbeck — a player who has won for the franchise in the past — but this is a new team with new expectations. Those wins in the past don’t mean anything in 2010 as far as the new coaching staff is concerned.
I understand that Whitehurst is a relative unknown in this league, and I also understand the criticism that Seattle is taking for giving up so much to bring him in to town. But from the people I talked to in the league before — and after -- the deal, there are high expectations for Whitehurst. And plenty of speculation that he’ll develop into a productive player for Carroll and the Seahawks.
We should assume that Hasselbeck will go into training camp as the No. 1 QB, but every snap he takes in practice and the preseason will determine how long he holds that role. Because Carroll will give Whitehurst as many opportunities as it takes to win the job. And if it doesn’t happen in August, it’s still coming — sooner rather than later.
Whitehurst is the quarterback of the future for Seattle, and because the Seahawks decided to go with a veteran instead of a rookie, who wouldn’t be prepared for the transition to the NFL on the first day of practice anyway, this is as real as it gets when we talk about a camp battle.
The veteran, from the old regime, vs. the young QB hand-picked by the new head coach. Hasselbeck will have to fight off Whitehurst every day to keep his starting gig — and prove Carroll wrong.
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