Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Steve Hutchinson's surprise Seahawks visit
By Mike Sando
Steve Hutchinson is paying a free-agent visit to the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday.
We can file this one under things once considered less likely than, say, Mike Holmgren hiring former front-office nemesis Tim Ruskell as his general manager in Cleveland.
Hutchinson's disputed departure from the Seahawks to the Minnesota Vikings following their 2005 Super Bowl season remains a painful chapter in team history.
But with new leadership in the front office and beyond, there is no one left in Seattle with any direct connection to Hutchinson's messy exit. Hutchinson remains close to some long-time employees, and his former offensive coordinator in Minnesota, Darrell Bevell, is now the Seahawks' offensive coordinator.
Ruskell was team president and general manager when the Seahawks named Hutchinson their transition player, unwittingly opening the door for Hutchinson's agent to conspire with the Vikings on a "poison-pill" contract offer that, for practical purposes, prevented Seattle from keeping him. The situation widened divisions in the Seahawks' front office, and hard feelings persisted for years.
That is ancient history now. Hutchinson, 34, was arguably the best guard in franchise history, earning Pro Bowl honors in each of his final three seasons with the team. He went to four more Pro Bowls with the Vikings, most recently following the 2009 season. Injuries limited him some over the past two seasons, but he still made 14 starts last season.
The Vikings had a youth movement and salary-cap concerns in mind when they released Hutchinson. A seven-time All-Pro selection by the Associated Press, Hutchinson visited the Tennessee Titans before coming to Seattle. The Seahawks already have veteran Robert Gallery at left guard, and 2011 first-round pick James Carpenter is a candidate to play that position after recovering from knee surgery.
Gallery has a $5 million base salary for 2012. He is also set to earn a $1.5 million roster bonus. Hutchinson had been scheduled to earn $7 million from the Vikings in 2012, the final year of the seven-year, $49 million deal he signed six years ago.
It's not clear whether the Seahawks will pursue Hutchinson aggressively. The fact that they're meeting with him at all should help heal old wounds, at least.