Where Might Hasselbeck End Up?

I’ve been holding off on writing this one because, let’s be honest, what’s the point when the CBA is months away?  However, now that it’s official, it’s time for Hot Speculation Madness!

The easy answer is the most simple.  Just look at all the teams at the end of last season who needed a quarterback.  This includes all teams who drafted a quarterback high in this year’s draft and need a veteran presence to ease the transition.  The list includes the following:

  • Carolina
  • Arizona
  • Seattle
  • Minnesota
  • Miami
  • Tennessee
  • San Francisco
  • Washington
  • Cincinnati
  • Cleveland

I would argue maybe even Oakland is on that list, but I both doubt that they’d want Hasselbeck and that Hasselbeck would want to go to Oakland (aside from the fact that it’s pretty close to his home in Seattle).

Not counting Oakland, you’ve still got ten teams.  Let’s take a look at them one by one, ordering them by likelihood.

Not Bloody Likely

Cincinnati is interesting because Carson Palmer has said he’d rather retire than play another down for the orange and black.  They’ll certainly be without T.O. and maybe even without OchoCinco?  I thought I heard/read somewhere that they were thinking about cutting him.  Either way, there’s still talent on this team, but something tells me they’re not going to pony up the cash required for Hasselbeck’s services.  Also, not for nothing, but the cold weather there would likely be murder on Matt’s aging bones come December.

Washington already has an elderly erstwhile Pro Bowler in Donovan McNabb and all signs are pointing to his imminent release.  I don’t know how well signing Hasselbeck would go over for their fanbase, especially considering Matt’s 28th-ranked passer rating in 2010, four spots lower than McNabb.  The Redskins seem to be cursed at the quarterback position (much like the Mariners and their Designated Hitter position since Edgar retired); they might be best served going younger right away and taking their lumps now.

I heard about this Miami rumor today and I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.  If they really wanted to go outside the organization for their next starter, why wouldn’t they just jump into the Kevin Kolb fray?  Miami needs an up-and-comer to contend in that AFC East; they don’t need a guy on the downside of his career.  They’re not exactly one player away from contending anyway.

As for Carolina, I just get the feeling they’re dumb enough to start Cam Newton from Day 1.

Intriguing Outside Shot

I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about Cleveland as a possible destination!  Hello, Mike Holmgren!  Hello, Jake Delhomme!  They have just about the biggest need of anyone out there at the quarterback position and I can’t imagine they’re totally sold on Colt McCoy.  Hell, they could probably offer Matt a 2-year guaranteed contract with an option for a third with the way that team is settled at quarterback.  Of course, as with any team, they’d have to worry about Hasselbeck’s health, but if he WAS healthy for the next two years, Cleveland could present quite the imposing front.  They already have a pretty solid defense; they’ve got some exciting skill-position players, and they’ve been building up their O-Line for a while now.  Is it just me, or does Cleveland make too much sense?

In The Hunt, But For Some Reason Not Desperate Enough

San Francisco strikes me as a perfect fit, but I don’t know if that’s going to be good enough.  They’ve still got Alex Smith and they still seem to be willing to give him a chance even though he’s God-awful.  I have a feeling, if Matt is truly determined to leave, this would be his preferred option.  I just don’t think they’re going to offer him what it’s going to take to get him.

If I were Arizona, instead of mortgaging your draft for next year on Kolb, I’d just continue on the path you’ve started on:  build a solid team all around, then implement some other team’s cast-off quarterback as your starter for 1-2 years at a time.  Worked with Kurt Warner, and it would likely pay off with Hasselbeck as well.  Your warm weather is a sure bet to keep elderly quarterbacks playing well into the wee hours of football seasons, your proximity to Seattle (relative to most of the rest of the NFL) would likely ease Matt’s transition, and your team full of stars not getting any younger (Larry Fitzgerald) would surely appreciate the addition of a guy who’s not only “Been There”, but is as desperate for a Super Bowl Ring as they are.  Let’s face it, Kolb is just starting out, so trading for him is pretty much going to ensure this season is a bust (what with it being his first full year as a starter).  And I wouldn’t bank on any Super Bowl appearances next year either.  These things take time to build; Kolb – even if he IS the guy – likely won’t be at that elite level where he’s carrying your team to the title game until his third or fourth year in your system.  By that time, all your quality vets will be past their prime and you’ll likely have to start all over again.

The Sure Contenders

Everyone’s talking about Tennessee, so we might as well get them out of the way now.  What makes this team so interesting – aside from the fact they have Jake Locker, a local product – is they’re chock full of ex-Seahawks executives.  Obviously, with Vince Young ousted, and with Kerry Collins likely retired, they’d like to grab a guy like Hasselbeck for a year or two; because without a doubt Locker won’t be ready to start in the NFL this year.  At this point, I have to think just because it’s Tennessee – so far from Seattle – isn’t enough to prevent Hasselbeck from giving them a shot.  You have to think, if the Seahawks aren’t going to seriously go after Matt, he’ll have to be super-flattered by a team like the Titans that would truly embrace him for his personality, his work ethic, and his winning track record.  Yes, they’re serious contenders, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they won the sweepstakes.

Minnesota is also a contender and it would make me physically ill if they got him over us.  Not only would they be ready to win it all right now, but it would just be another player they could lord over us as having stolen.  How perfect would it be for Hasselbeck to retire a Viking right after Favre did the same thing?  Has the world gone CRAZY???

The Safe Bet

I still say Seattle is the best bet.  I know all these ESPN guys are going out of their minds with rumors that Hasselbeck is done in Seattle, but I’m just not buying it!  We’re the only team on this whole list who doesn’t have a young quarterback waiting in the wings (I’m not saying those young quarterbacks are all good football players; I’m just saying they’re young and waiting), so not only would Hasselbeck be guaranteed to start this year, but he’d likely be our starter next year even if we draft our next QB in 2012’s draft.  Mark my words, Matt Hasselbeck will wear a Seahawks uniform in the fall of 2011.

By the way, how weird is it that our very own Matt Hasselbeck is the NFL’s most-coveted free agent quarterback?  Really???  HE’S the guy that’s got to fall into place before these other quarterbacks get snapped up by desperate teams?  I like him, he’s been a great Seahawk, but the thought of that is just too mind-blowing.

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