How receiving departures affect NFC West teams
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Former Seahawks receiver D.J. Hackett could start for the Panthers while Steve Smith is in the principal's office. Smith, of course, slugged another former Seahawk, Ken Lucas, drawing a two-game suspension.
With Hackett in the news, this might be a good time to discuss what his departure means to the Seahawks, and what the departures of other receivers mean elsewhere in the division.
Seahawks: D.J Hackett, now with the Panthers. Hackett was at his best for Seattle when he caught 45 passes in 2006 (see explanatory chart from my previous life). Injuries limited Hackett to six games last season. Hackett has very good hands. He has very good size. A former basketball player, he can win a jump-ball situation down the field. The Seahawks could use him now if they could count on him staying healthy. Right now, the Seahawks can't count on anyone staying healthy.
Rams: Isaac Bruce, now with the 49ers. The Rams decided Bruce, at 35, wasn't worth what they were paying him. They released him before drafting Donnie Avery in the second round. The Rams' passing game will probably miss Bruce until one of the younger players develops, and that could take time. Bruce's departure reinforces the idea that the offense belongs to Steven Jackson (once Jackson reports to camp, that is).
Cardinals: Bryant Johnson, now with the 49ers. The Cardinals were better with Johnson in the passing game, but they are trying to become more of a running team. The pass offense remains in very good hands as long as Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are available. Johnson's departure would have hurt most teams more than it'll hurt the Cardinals. This team appears prepared to move on without him.
49ers: Darrell Jackson, now with the Broncos. Jackson wasn't a good fit in the scheme Norv Turner left behind when Turner went from 49ers offensive coordinator to Chargers head coach. Jackson is best suited playing flanker in a quick passing game. The 49ers asked him to play split end in a more vertical pass offense. Playing flanker allowed Jackson to line up off the line of scrimmage, giving him more room to operate. Jackson could enjoy a resurgence this season if the Broncos use him that way, and if Jackson's injury concerns remain in check.