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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
ManningWatch: What about Hasselbeck?

By Mike Sando

The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers showed interest in former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck last offseason.

What might happen if Hasselbeck hits the market again in 2012?

The question comes to mind while Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams makes a strong push for quarterback Peyton Manning.

Adams' interest, expressed emphatically over the weekend, initially seemed like bluster. But with Manning and the Titans meeting Wednesday, there's at least a chance. Manning would get to face his former team, Indianapolis, and the happy-with-Matt Schaub Houston Texans two times apiece per season.

If Manning lands in Tennessee, the Titans would proceed with 2011 first-round choice Jake Locker as their backup and projected future starter. Hasselbeck would be out.

Matt Hasselbeck
If Matt Hasselbeck becomes available, he could be an intriguing option for several NFC West teams.
The Cardinals could make room for Hasselbeck by declining to pay a $7 million bonus due to Kevin Kolb by Friday. We're dealing in the hypothetical at this point, but so are the teams. As much as the Cardinals want Manning, they must prepare alternate strategies. They could have a choice between Kolb and Hasselbeck if Manning landed in Tennessee. Hasselbeck would upgrade the position on the field, in my view, while giving the Cardinals a veteran mentor for Skelton.

Hasselbeck ranked about the same as Kolb in NFL passer rating last season, but much higher in Total QBR. Hasselbeck suffered from losing top receiver Kenny Britt to a season-ending injury. The Cardinals would presumably welcome his ability to make quick decisions, a problem area for Arizona last season.

Quite a few NFC West watchers have also asked whether Kolb might land in Seattle if the Cardinals released him. My sense is that Seattle could be in the market for a range of quarterbacks at sub-starter prices. Matt Flynn and Chad Henne are visiting this week. Kolb would present another option if the Cardinals parted with him.

Manning would be the only available quarterback Seattle would pay starting money this offseason, in my view. Previous reports have suggested the Seahawks were not in contention. The latest news story from ESPN's Chris Mortensen offers at last some hope even though Seattle does not appear to be under consideration at this time.

"Manning has not eliminated any of the teams with which he has previously met -- the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, or Miami Dolphins, nor has he closed the door on possibly meeting with other teams," the story says.

As for the 49ers, they appear most likely to re-sign Alex Smith. Hasselbeck would be an obvious alternative for them if he became available and Smith's situation with the 49ers changed.