Matt Hasselbeck will be 35-years-old on September 25th. He has one year left on his contract. In the last two years, Seattle's starting quarterback has missed 11 games through injury and thrown a 22/27 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Bad line play, lack of playmakers and changing schemes have undoubtedly played their part. However, as former GM Tim Ruskell said in the lead up to the 2009 draft, the Seahawks are "in the zone" with regard to finding a long term option at the position.
In Pete Carroll's introductory press conference, he spoke of creating the right platform for Hasselbeck to be successful. A much improved running game was touted as a necessity, whilst any question marks about the quarterback's health were brushed aside. If the Seahawks can create that solid rushing attack it'll help Hasselbeck to 'manage' a game sufficiently. He can still do that for sure - he's an intelligent player. But this is a quarterback that has struggled physically and is taking on his third offensive scheme in three years - approaching the twighlight of his career. To expect much more than a capable game manager would be unfair - and I say that as a huge Hasselbeck fan. He needs to be in the ring of honour the day after he retires.
This is essentially the problem. Hasselbeck can be serviceable and I have no doubts he'll be the starter in 2010. Can he be the quarterback for a playoff caliber team? Absolutely. Can you put your faith in him long term? Absolutely not.
It seems unlikely that Seneca Wallace will be viewed as anything other than a backup and potential trick play commodity. Mike Teel may never get a chance to prove his qualities - wrong team at the wrong time unfortunately, he may never be afforded the true opportunity to enhance his skills and have a chance to start. Such is the desperation for a legitimate long term solution.
Some people suggest waiting a year or two on the off chance better quarterbacks will present themselves than those available in the 2010 class. That's all well and good, but a.) who's to say next year's options will be better (many thought the same about this year compared to Stafford/Sanchez) and b.) the longer you wait, the more likely you are to be throwing a rookie QB in at the deep end.
Drafting a quarterback this year in round one would allow the Seahawks to sit the prospect for one year and potentially become the starter in 2011. All being well, Hasselbeck may be re-signed for an extra year to give the rookie extra experience. Having as much time to learn as possible clearly did no damage to Aaron Rodgers.
I think it's important to reiterate at this stage how critical I've been of this year's quarterback class. Lingering doubts about Sam Bradford's durability are a major concern, whilst my views on Jimmy Clausen are well publicised and archived on the blog. It would surprise me if Pete Carroll, having stayed away from using the spread at USC, suddenly drafts a Bradford/Tebow/McCoy type to be the long term answer at quarterback.
Clausen would appear to be the most logical choice. He's someone Carroll and current Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian tried to recruit during their days at USC. The Notre Dame junior is experienced in a pro-style offense and would be the most prepared to make NFL reads. Does he jump off the screen as a legendary quarterback in the making? No. Are there issues with his slingy release, lack of elite physical qualities and character? Sure. At the same time, if you're going to sit and wait for the next Peyton Manning - you'll be waiting forever.
A lot of Seahawks fans would advocate a move for Jake Locker in 2011. He would come with his own issues. Clausen is no different. When you're talking about drafting a guy, especially at QB, sometimes you have to admit there are creases to be ironed. Can Clausen be a serviceable quarterback in the NFL, work an offense and get a team into the playoffs? Of course he can.
In my last two mock drafts, I've had Clausen dropping into the late first/early second round. That could happen. He could also go in the top ten, because this is a quarterback league. If the Seahawks feel Clausen can make an offense tick - make most of the NFL throws and be a long term replacement for Matt Hasselbeck - they absolutely must consider taking him in the top ten... and I speak as one of Clausen's biggest critics.