Monday, June 14, 2010
What Seattle accomplished with Leroy Hill
By Mike Sando
Nothing about Leroy Hill's off-field troubles precluded him from practicing with the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.
Coach Pete Carroll asked him to stay away regardless, and without providing a specific reason.
News that Hill has rejoined the team for the remainder of the offseason revives questions about the Seahawks' motives. What could they gain by asking Hill to stay away until mid-June, particularly with Hill's domestic-violence case scheduled to continue July 23?
A few thoughts on potential motives:
- The Seahawks sent a message to Hill and the rest of the team about potential consequences for players who fail to meet off-field expectations on coach Pete Carroll's watch. It's tougher to cast Carroll as a players' coach in the pejorative sense after Carroll banished Hill and released an apparently lackadaisical LenDale White. The message sent is that Carroll means business.
- The Seahawks didn't want to deal with a negative storyline while Carroll was still in the very early stages of establishing his program.
- Hill's hiatus gave the Seahawks an opportunity to more fully evaluate how other linebackers on the team might fare in a starting role should the team decide to part with Hill eventually.
- While Hill has shown promise to this point in his career, he hasn't quite broken through as a consistently excellent player. Carroll's treatment of him gives Hill more incentive to prove himself. Perhaps it's a wakeup call.
- Carroll has now defined the team's relationship with Hill on his terms. Hill is scheduled to earn $6 million this season, but if Carroll valued him at that level, would he have treated him so harshly? If Carroll thought he had to have Hill for his defense, or if Carroll wanted to build the defense around Hill in any way, he would have wanted him around before now, right? I never got the sense from Carroll that he was eagerly awaiting Hill's return.
That last point -- how Carroll envisions Hill fitting in his defense -- is one I'd like to hear Carroll address.
A final point: This move could tell us the Seahawks have a better idea how Hill's court case will conclude and how the league will react.