Mailbag: Pros, cons on Matt Hasselbeck

Blog regular SFCmech keeps politely pushing for a pros-and-cons piece on whether the Seattle Seahawks should bring back Matt Hasselbeck in 2011. He thinks too many Seahawks fans fail to acknowledge Hasselbeck's decline while writing off Charlie Whitehurst too quickly.

Mike Sando: Labor-related reports suggest NFL teams will have 72 hours to re-sign their own free agents before the unrestricted market opens on a wider scale. That three-day window should help teams and players avoid making emotional decisions. In theory, that window should help the Seahawks reach an agreement with Hasselbeck.

The reality could be different. The lockout threatened to harden longer-range thinking, in my view. Had free agency remained open on schedule, Hasselbeck's strong performance during the playoffs would have been fresher. The intervening four months have given the Seahawks an extended period to contemplate their long-range plans. It'll be no surprise to me if they decide to move in another direction, without Hasselbeck.

Let's run through some of the pros and cons before opening this up to broader discussion.

  • Why Seattle should keep Hasselbeck: The shortened offseason will make it tougher for teams to install new schemes. Hasselbeck worked previously under Seattle's new coordinator, Darrell Bevell. He could step in quickly and run the offense. The team has taken steps to upgrade its ground game. As the playoff game against New Orleans showed, Hasselbeck can still play at a high level when backed by a strong running game. And it's not like Seattle will find a long list of superior options available once the signing period opens. The Seahawks might as well keep Hasselbeck until they have someone better. Hasselbeck should finish his career in Seattle, anyway.

  • Why Seattle should move in another direction: Why stick with a 35-year-old quarterback during a rebuilding phase? Whitehurst ideally would have played more last season. He was 1-1 as a starter and hasn't had a fair chance. The Seahawks gave Hasselbeck additional chances after shaky moments early in his career. Besides, Hasselbeck has the NFL's lowest passer rating since 2008 among the 19 quarterbacks with at least 35 regular-season starts during that time, according to Pro Football Reference. Hasselbeck's rating during that time is 71.4, more than 10 points lower than Carson Palmer's rating, which ranks 18th among the 19 quarterbacks.

We've explored some of these thoughts previously during the offseason. The stat about Hasselbeck having the lowest rating since 2008 among quarterbacks with at least 35 starts suggests the Seahawks have stuck with Hasselbeck longer than other teams might have stuck with him. Injuries and several team-related issues have affected Hasselbeck's performance negatively, of course. But other quarterbacks face challenges, too.

I lowered the bar to 25 regular-season starts since 2008 for additional perspective. The results: Hasselbeck ranked 26th out of 28 quarterbacks in passer rating. Mark Sanchez (70.2) and Derek Anderson (60.6) were the only ones with lower ratings.

The Seahawks made a contract offer to Hasselbeck before the lockout took effect in March. The sides failed to reach agreement at that time. There are no guarantees the Seahawks' offer will remain on the table once the signing period opens again. Hasselbeck could have opportunities in Tennessee or elsewhere. The playoffs showed he can still perform at a high level, but it's uncertain whether he remains the best fit for Seattle given where the team stands.