Carroll, Hasselbeck and quarterback future

RENTON, Wash. -- Matt Hasselbeck's expiring contract, injury troubles and inconsistent production have fueled questions about his future with the Seattle Seahawks.

Those questions have not gone away after coach Pete Carroll said the only thing he could say Wednesday when a reporter asked him whether he wanted the quarterback to return.

"We don't know the time lines or how that's going to work out, and all that kind of stuff, but that's a big issue for us that we're looking forward to," coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. "He's had a terrific run for us and we want to see what we can do to keep that going."

Hasselbeck's strong performance against New Orleans in the wild-card round makes him a more viable candidate to return. If he struggles against Chicago, then what?

Hasselbeck has said he wants to stay with the team. Carroll has now said the feeling is mutual. Again, though, what else was he going to say during a live news conference heading into a playoff game? Hedging might have come off as a lack of support.

It was already clear Carroll liked, respected and valued Hasselbeck. The relationship between Hasselbeck and offensive assistants Jeremy Bates and Jedd Fisch also appears strong. Hasselbeck regularly credits them by name when the team enjoys success.

The big question was to what degree on-field results -- specifically Hasselbeck's struggles during the team's dive from 4-2 to 7-9 -- would nullify what Carroll and the quarterback had built over the course of the season. That question is not yet answered.

Carroll did not do anything dramatic such as declaring Hasselbeck his starter for next season. There's plenty of time to figure out how to proceed.

Backup Charlie Whitehurst is already under contract for next season. The team could still draft a quarterback as well. Nate Davis, a third-stringer with San Francisco in 2009, is reportedly expected to sign with Seattle after spending 2010 on the 49ers' practice squad.