Middle linebacker David Hawthorne's experience in NFL free agency was not unique to him.
The market for running backs, safeties and inside linebackers has remained mostly soft as teams build their rosters from the outside in, the better to cope with an increasingly pass-happy NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks have been a bit of an exception, paying significant sums to a run-stuffing defensive end (Red Bryant) and a power runner (Marshawn Lynch). But they weren't going to value Hawthorne on the same level. Knee problems slowed Hawthorne last season. And Hawthorne, though productive when healthy, does not possess the specialized traits coach Pete Carroll values in players.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Hawthorne wanted to re-sign with Seattle, but the New Orleans Saints were offering better money. Hawthorne's agent, Russel Hicks: "He wanted to come back there. He got his NFL start there, but unfortunately Seattle did not make him a priority to bring him back and New Orleans made it a priority to get him signed. Personally I just wish they would have made a better attempt to bring him back, but they didn’t. And David does, too." Noted: Hawthorne has seven interceptions over the past three seasons. The Seahawks could miss his production. However, they have embraced opportunities to remake the position, parting with Aaron Curry and Lofa Tatupu previously. The team was more interested in keeping Hawthorne than keeping Curry or Tatupu, but not enough to pay him even in a soft market.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times passes along thoughts from Hawthorne after the middle linebacker signed with New Orleans. Hawthorne: "From Day One, they were one of the first teams to contact me in free agency. I think they valued me and my body of work, and I had never played a snap for them. ... I had to make a decision based on my future."
Also from O'Neil: thoughts on the Seahawks' new uniforms. O'Neil: "Mock if you must. Compare them to the Nike football flagship that Oregon's college program has become, or invoke the Arena League or comic-book superheroes for that matter. But no one is going to mistake the Seahawks' new uniforms for anything out of grandma's attic."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with Todd Van Horne, Nike's global creative director, for thoughts on the new NFL uniforms. Farnsworth: "The jersey is 20 percent lighter and 50 percent stronger than what teams have been wearing the past 10 seasons."
Also from Farnsworth: "The Seahawks tried to re-sign Hawthorne before the free agency period began on March 13 and again after he had visited the Saints. But the sides could not agree on a deal."
Sports Press Northwest quotes Bills safety George Wilson thusly: "Why do the Seahawks get the cool uniforms? I like changing it up and not doing the expected. Seattle is really taking some risks in their uniform. But from hearing the other guys talk about it in the back, I think their uniform was the overwhelming player favorite in the dressing room."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says during a chat he thinks Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are both worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also from Thomas: "Even with the signing of Jo-Lonn Dunbar from New Orleans, the Rams still have only four linebackers under contract. Most teams take 9 or 10 into training camp, and usually 6 or 7 into the regular season. So yes, the Rams need more bodies there. I think Lavonte David would be a good choice. He'd be a great value at the top of the third, but will he still be there at that point."
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com suggests Los Angeles might be less of a threat to lure the Rams away from St. Louis. Gordon: "The downtown L.A. stadium proposed by the Anschutz Entertainment Group offers decidedly unattractive financial terms to teams in other cities. Yahoo! Sports notes that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell advised billionaire Phil Anschutz to change those terms to move the project forward. Anschutz has thus far balked at Goodell’s suggestion."
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com explains some of the reasons he came to appreciate Torry Holt. He passes along this 2007 comment from Holt regarding talkative wideouts: "Yeah, sometimes it’s just shutting up and just playing, not worrying about anything that is going on other than what you can control and that’s your job and your actions and your words. That’s one of the biggest lessons I would take from Isaac (Bruce). Sometimes you should just shut up. Tame your tongue and let your actions and what you do on the football field speak for you. That’s what he does."
Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan likes the new Nike uniforms. Finnegan: "It is everything a player could want in a jersey. The older jerseys limited you. I can feel the difference just walking around. They are state of the art."
Bob Young of the Arizona Republic offers details on the NFL's new uniforms, noting that little has changed for the Cardinals. Young: "While the shrink-wrap-tight cut of the uniforms, exposed stitching and breathable fabrics reportedly are similar to the cutting-edge stuff that Nike has produced for college programs -- including Arizona State -- the new uniforms stay true to traditional designs and colors for most teams. Larry Fitzgerald modeled the Cardinals version of the new uniforms for NFL.com in the home red. We are told the team still will have the alternate black uniform option as well."
Aaron Wilson of Scout.com says James Sanders, a free-agent safety from the Atlanta Falcons, is visiting with the Cardinals. Sanders played previously for New England.
Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' Jed York showed qualities reflecting his uncle (Eddie DeBartolo Jr.) and father (John York) in securing a new stadium. Lynch: "Jed is impetuous just like Eddie, but has an awareness of financial reality like his pop."
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers' jerseys should look familiar, and not just for their design. Inman: "A main element for the next edition of the 49ers: The names on the back of the uniform. According to unofficial research (a five-second scan of the online roster), 52 players who had spots in last season’s locker room are still on the team. That includes every defensive starter (plus Aldon Smith, who’s tabbed to unseat Parys Haralson at right outside linebacker). Unlike so many recent 49ers offseasons in the past decade, the head coach returns. And, yes, you can assume Jim Harbaugh’s wardrobe won’t stray from last year’s staple: khaki pants, black fleece sweatshirt, black cap, red-pen necklace, wily scowl."
Also from Inman: an Alex Smith interview transcript.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' apparent interest in free-agent offensive lineman Jason Brown makes sense.
Ofelia Madrid of the Arizona Republic says receiver Dontavia Bogan, recently released by the 49ers, was arrested after scuffling with security guards in Arizona.