The move sparked concerns about whether Spencer could be considered a potential upgrade at center over the recently-departed Olin Kreutz, when his own team seemingly didn’t want him.
“I never got a straight answer from those guys (the Seahawks), so I’m not sure what it was,” Spencer told ESPNChicago.com. “All I know is from talking to them, they were excited about Max Unger, and a younger guy going in at center. So, not really getting a straight answer from them, that’s what I took out of the whole situation. You look around, and when coaches come, they want their own guys.”
That likely played at least a small role in Seattle’s decision to not re-sign Spencer.
The Seahawks, with current Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell as their president, used a first-round pick to acquire Spencer in 2005, and the center spent his rookie season learning the ropes behind former Pro Bowler Robbie Tobeck.
Spencer became a starter his second season, and later moved to center, starting 60 games over a six-year span. Lauded by scouts for his toughness, Spencer played an entire season with a broken thumb on his snapping hand by snapping the ball with his left hand.
According to some scouts, Spencer lacks the consistent nastiness preferred by offensive line coach Mike Tice. If that’s truly the case with Spencer, expect for that to change playing for Tice in Mike Martz’s scheme.
“I’ve played in a Mike Holmgren West Coast offense, and that’s a pretty tough system as a rookie. Over the past two or three years, I’ve had offensive coordinators come in and out,” Spencer said. “I’m not too concerned about that. [I] just need to dive in, and being a veteran now, I’m at a place where my knowledge of the game has really grown. Now, it’s about putting the concepts together of what different coaches do. I’m pretty excited to dive into the playbook and get going in the system.”
The Seahawks never made any overtures to the center about the possibility of returning, but undoubtedly Spencer’s connection with Ruskell played a role in him joining the Bears. With all the turnover on Seattle’s staff and front office (former offensive line coach Alex Gibbs strangely re-signed eight days before last year's regular season opener) in recent years, Spencer found himself no longer in the organization’s long-term plans.
Spencer wasn’t the only one.
“Look around. [Linebacker] Lofa [Tatupu] is gone. [Quarterback] Matt [Hasselbeck] is gone. We were all Tim Ruskell and Mike Holmgren guys,” Spencer said. “I think that’s the mentality -- they want to get their own guys in and work with their own players. But I wish them the best. [Ruskell] drafted me in 2005, so we had a good relationship in Seattle. He knew what kind of guy I am. He knows my work ethic, and I'm someone who puts in the work and tries to play at the highest level I can play."
The plan for Spencer now is to get into the Pro Bowl by learning the finer points of the game from Tice. Scouts describe Spencer as “very athletic, strong” and intelligent, which could smooth his acclimation to the Bears.
“[Tice is] a really good offensive line coach, and one of the reasons I wanted to sign with the Bears,” Spencer said. “I think he’s going to be the guy to help get me to the Pro Bowl. I’m excited for him to pull everything out of me and teach me a lot about football, and hopefully get me where I want to be in my career.”