NFC West: Josh Portis

The Seattle Seahawks' first organized team activity session featuring Percy Harvin didn't feature Harvin as much as once anticipated.

It became more about Bruce Irvin's suspension, Josh Portis' DUI arrest, Cliff Avril's foot injury and Marshawn Lynch's decision to train elsewhere.

Brock Huard's observations for 710ESPN Seattle offered a glimpse beyond the headlines. His thoughts on Harvin, Russell Wilson, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Christine Michael and Tom Cable stood out, as did this two-sentence passage toward the bottom: "There was a reason Indianapolis won 12 games a year for a decade. Peyton Manning set the tone, but Edgerrin James and Marvin Harrison didn't miss minicamps or OTAs. When an organization's best and most talented players invest more than anyone else, results tend to follow."

Lynch was once the most important player on the team. Though this is Wilson's team now, Lynch still sets the tone during games through his violent running style. He is still one of the organization's best and most talented players. His absence Monday was conspicuous simply because every other healthy veteran attended the voluntary session.

"We miss him and we’d like him to be here," coach Pete Carroll told reporters after practice. "This is a lot of fun and there is a lot of good stuff happening here."

Carroll said Lynch has checked in at team headquarters this month. He said Lynch was in excellent shape and was training hard.

Few are likely to care in September whether Lynch attended a voluntary practice in May. Carroll cared Monday.

"We'd love to see everyone here," the coach said.

Seattle's OTA sessions will continue, but none will be open to media until May 28. Sessions scheduled for June 3 and June 6 are also scheduled to be open.
Kellen Clemens' new one-year deal with the St. Louis Rams gives every NFC West team at least three quarterbacks heading into the 2013 draft.

A quick look at where things stand at the position:
  • Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer is the starter and Drew Stanton is the backup. Both signed contracts with millions in guaranteed money this offseason. Coach Bruce Arians wants -- and has -- a clearly defined depth chart at the top. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Lindley round out the depth chart at the position.
  • St. Louis Rams: Sam Bradford has no competition for the starting job. Coach Jeff Fisher has suggested all along the team could re-sign Clemens. However, he also suggested Austin Davis could remain in the No. 2 role even with the more experienced Clemens in the mix.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Colin Kaepernick heads into a regular season as the starter for the first time since his college days. Colt McCoy has the early advantage over Scott Tolzien for the No. 2 role. McCoy is actually the highest-paid quarterback on the roster in terms of average per year ($1.5 million). Overall, the 49ers are committing less than $3.5 million in 2013 cap space for quarterbacks.
  • Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson, like the other NFC West starters, is firmly established as the starter. Recently signed backup Brady Quinn might fit more for what he offers in the film room -- a diligent study partner for Wilson -- as for what he offers on the field. Re-signing Josh Portis to the No. 3 role gives Seattle another quarterback familiar with the offense.

Every NFC West team could conceivably select a quarterback at some point in the upcoming draft, but there is less pressure to do so now that each team has at least three of them under contract.
NFC West teams have drafted five quarterbacks, acquired two by trade, shipped off four others for draft choices and spent roughly $130 million on the position -- all since 2010.

It's been a wild ride.

In 2012 alone, every team in the division but the St. Louis Rams benched a quarterback earning at least $6.5 million per season for ones earning between $490,000 and $1.3 million annually. Two of the three displaced starters have already been released (Kevin Kolb) or traded (Alex Smith). The third, Matt Flynn, appears on his way from the Seattle Seahawks to the Oakland Raiders in a trade that is reportedly imminent.

Signs of progress abound. Consider this juxtaposition: Two current NFC West starters finished their 2012 seasons in the Pro Bowl (Russell Wilson) or Super Bowl (Colin Kaepernick). Two castoffs from the division, Kolb and 2012 trade subject Tarvaris Jackson, are competing to start for the Buffalo Bills in 2013.

So much has changed since Matt Hasselbeck, Derek Anderson, Sam Bradford and Smith opened the 2010 season as starting quarterbacks for NFC West teams. Only Bradford remains. Though firmly established as the Rams' starter, his long-range career trajectory appears less defined. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are still searching for Kurt Warner's worthy heir, a process that has led them to Drew Stanton until further notice.

The following team-by-team accounting shows what's been ventured and gained at quarterback for NFC West teams over the past three years. The period dates to Warner's retirement, Pete Carroll's hiring as Seahawks coach and Bradford's selection as a No. 1 overall draft choice. I've ordered the teams by cash spent.

St. Louis Rams

Cash spent on QBs: $48.4 million

Top earners: Bradford ($42.05 million), A.J. Feeley ($4.95 million), Kellen Clemens ($863,087), Austin Davis ($395,000) and Tom Brandstater ($132,352).

Draft capital invested: The Rams used the first pick of the 2010 draft for Bradford. They have not drafted a quarterback subsequently.

QBs added by trade: None.

QBs subtracted by trade: None.

Comment: The current collective bargaining agreement came along too late for the Rams. They're stuck paying Bradford $50 million in guaranteed money because the old wage scale was so much more generous for high draft choices. Last year, Andrew Luck got $22.1 million in guarantees as the first overall pick. So, while the Rams drafted Bradford to rescue their franchise, the financial obligation is making it tougher for the team to build its roster in a fundamentally different economic environment. Of course, it's all good if Bradford produces the way the Rams think he can produce.

Arizona Cardinals

Cash spent on QBs: $28.7 million

Top earners: Kolb ($20.5 million), Anderson ($3.25 million), Stanton ($2 million), John Skelton ($1.5 million), Rich Bartel ($920,000), Max Hall ($325,000), Brian Hoyer ($108,529), Ryan Lindley ($105,698). Releasing Matt Leinart right before the 2010 season spared the team from paying him.

Draft capital invested: The Cardinals drafted Skelton in the fifth round and Lindley in the sixth. Arizona also parted with a second-round choice when acquiring Kolb.

QBs added by trade: Kolb. The Cardinals sent a second-round choice and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles for Kolb.

QBs subtracted by trade: none.

Comment: Signing Kolb to a deal averaging better than $12 million per season appears foolish in hindsight. Other unproven quarterbacks haven't gotten that much since the Kolb trade went down right before training camps opened in 2011. However, the Cardinals badly needed a quarterback at the time. They paid what they felt was necessary to get the quarterback they wanted. Arizona needed Kolb to cooperate on a contract extension to facilitate the trade. That meant paying a premium. New coach Bruce Arians has said the team can win with Stanton, but this situation appears fluid. Carson Palmer's name has come up as a potential alternative. Arizona holds the seventh overall pick in the draft. It's still early.

Seattle Seahawks

Cash spent on QBs: $28.4 million

Top earners: Matt Flynn ($8 million), Charlie Whitehurst ($8 million), Hasselbeck ($6.75 million), Jackson ($4 million), Wilson ($1 million), Josh Portis ($375,000), J.P. Losman ($296,470). The team traded Seneca Wallace before Wallace was due to receive salary compensation for 2010.

Draft capital invested: The Seahawks used a third-round choice to select Wilson. They used another third-rounder in the Whitehurst deal, which also included a swap of second-round choices.

QBs added by trade: Whitehurst. The third-round pick sent to San Diego in the Whitehurst deal was for one year in the future. The exchange of second-round picks involved choices that year.

QBs subtracted by trade: Wallace and Jackson. Seattle traded Wallace and Jackson for seventh-round picks. The team figures to get something in return for Flynn.

Comment: Landing Wilson in the third round and daring to start him as a rookie turned the Whitehurst, Jackson and Flynn experiments into footnotes. Seattle has done a good job getting something in return for its castoff quarterbacks despite failing to draft players at the position in 2010 or 2011. The Rams and Cardinals haven't been able to do that in recent seasons. What the Seahawks get in return for Flynn will factor into this analysis as well. Whitehurst returned a seventh-round compensatory choice from the NFL after leaving Seattle to re-sign with the Chargers.

San Francisco 49ers

Cash spent on QBs: $24.7 million

Top earners: Alex Smith ($15.9 million), David Carr ($3.9 million), Kaepernick ($3.2 million), Scott Tolzien ($844,960), Troy Smith ($545,000), Josh Johnson ($350,000). The 49ers released Johnson before he played for the team, but by then the team had paid a $350,000 signing bonus to him. Shaun Hill was traded before the 49ers had to pay any of his 2010 salary. Nate Davis was on the practice squad in 2010.

Draft capital invested: The 49ers used a second-round choice for Kaepernick after using fourth- and fifth-rounders to trade up. They have drafted no other quarterbacks over the past three years.

QBs added by trade: None.

QBs subtracted by trade: Alex Smith and Hill. The 49ers fared well in landing a high second-round choice from Kansas City in the Smith trade. Trading Hill returned a seventh-round pick from the Detroit Lions.

Comment: San Francisco would have considered releasing Alex Smith for salary-cap reasons if no trade had come together. Getting a premium pick in return was commendable. Put another way, Smith's departure armed the 49ers with a pick roughly equivalent to the one used for selecting Kaepernick. The Hill trade wasn't as fortunate because it meant proceeding with Carr as the backup. Overall, though, the 49ers put themselves in prime position at quarterback. Coach Jim Harbaugh's push to retain Smith in 2011 worked out well. So did the decision to replace Smith with Kaepernick.
The Seattle Seahawks hit the 53-man roster deadline as one of 12 NFL teams with only two quarterbacks on their active roster.

They did re-sign third quarterback Josh Portis to their practice squad. But with rookie third-round choice Russell Wilson starting and backup Matt Flynn scheduled to earn $19.5 million over the next three seasons, the team appears set atop its depth chart at the position.

Placing Portis on the practice squad, where he could sign with another team, appealed less when Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst were the top two quarterbacks last season. Portis was a bigger part of the team's plans for the position at that time.

The Seahawks are carrying one more running back and one more defensive back than they did for Week 1 last season. Seattle is one lighter at quarterback and on the offensive line. The team went into last season with 10 offensive linemen, one more than usual, while left tackle Russell Okung was returning from injury.

Seattle announced having added seven players to its practice squad: Portis, safety DeShawn Shead, receiver Ricardo Lockette, guard Rishaw Johnson, tight end Sean McGrath and two linebackers, Korey Toomer and Allen Bradford. All were with the team in camp. One spot on the practice squad remains open.

For download: Seahawks roster featuring 27 columns of info on the 53 active players, seven practice-squad players and every player on the team since roughly 2007.

This file also includes summary information comparing the Seahawks' roster to league averages in various categories. Note that defensive end Chris Clemons, 30, is the only Seattle starter in his 30s. Linebacker Leroy Hill will join Clemons on the list Sept. 14.

I do not have a jersey number for new tight end Evan Moore. You'll find his name atop the roster for now. Moore began his career with Green Bay in 2008. Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the Packers then.

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
NFL teams can begin forming practice squads once eligible players clear waivers Saturday.

A look at which players released by NFC West teams have eligibility:

Arizona Cardinals

Eligible: Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, Steve Skelton, Quan Sturdivant, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Williams.

Not eligible: DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Ronald Talley, Stephen Williams, Clark Haggans, Russ Hochstein

St. Louis Rams

Eligible: Cornell Banks, Tim Barnes, Tom Brandstater, Mason Brodine, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Kendric Burney, Ben Guidugli, Cory Harkey, T-Bob Hebert, Jamaar Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Joe Long, Deangelo Peterson, Chase Reynolds, Scott Smith

Not eligible: Vernon Gholston, Bryan Mattison, Jose Valdez, Kellen Clemens, Ovie Mughelli

San Francisco 49ers

Eligible: Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Matthew Masifilo, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Mike Person, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Michael Thomas, Kenny Wiggins, Michael Wilhoite

Not eligible: Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson, Brett Swain

Seattle Seahawks

Eligible: Pierre Allen, Allen Bradford, Kris Durham, Cooper Helfet, Rishaw Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Cordarro Law, Pep Levingston, Ricardo Lockette, Sean McGrath, Kris O'Dowd, Josh Portis, DeShawn Shead, Vai Taua, Korey Toomer, Lavasier Tuinei

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

Straight from the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad:
  • "players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience;
  • "free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s).

"An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.

"A player shall be deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the club's physical and been a member of the club's Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games during his first two Practice Squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third Practice Squad season.

"(For purposes of this Section, a bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)"
Four Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks have started 16 games in a season since the team moved from St. Louis for the 1988 season.

Jake Plummer did it three times. Kurt Warner (2008), Dave Krieg (1995) and Timm Rosenbach (1900) did it once apiece.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals will need their top two quarterbacks, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, to start games in 2012. And while coach Ken Whisenhunt has said rookie Ryan Lindley doesn't factor as a potential starter for Week 1, I won't be surprised if Lindley finds his way into the lineup at some point this season. The Cardinals like him.

Lindley, scheduled to start the team's exhibition finale Thursday night, would be the second third-stringer to start for the Cardinals since 2010, when Max Hall made three starts for the team.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says that's not the plan, however. Somers: "The only thing that appears settled at the quarterback position is that Lindley has at least secured the No.3 job over Rich Bartel, who has not played in the past two preseason games. Bartel is likely to play Thursday. Lindley is not a threat to start any time soon. He's completed 51.5 percent of his passes this preseason with two interceptions and no touchdowns. He has looked good at times, however, and the Cardinals are optimistic about his future." Noted: Arizona had three starters in the 2010, 2004 and 2000 seasons, most recently. Only once since 2005 have the Cardinals had one quarterback start more than 11 games in a season. That was in 2008, when Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl.

Darren Urban of updates the team's situation at offensive tackle.

Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are searching for their identity. Coach Jeff Fisher: "What we want from this football team is tough and aggressive. To me, that's the only way you should be. You're tough, smart and aggressive. You play through the whistle, you play hard and you go out expecting to win every game, from the start of the season to the end of the season."

Will from takes a play-by-play look at Sam Bradford's performance against Dallas in the team's most recent preseason game. He sees negative tendencies born of pressure.

Rich Cimini and Chris Mortensen of ESPN break down the Rams' trade that sent Jason Smith to the Jets for Wayne Hunter: "The Jets had no intention of dealing Hunter, but they received a call from the Rams shortly after demoting him, a source said. Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who held the same position with the Jets from 2006 to 2011, always held Hunter in high regard. On Sunday night, Hunter struggled again in a backup role, surrendering a fourth-quarter sack at left tackle. Behind the Jets' bench, he was verbally abused by unruly fans. Hunter lost his temper and had to be restrained by teammate Vladimir Ducasse, according to a team source. In the previous game, Hunter allowed 2.5 sacks against the New York Giants."

Nick Wagoner of says Hunter could push Barry Richardson for the starting job at right tackle.

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers' Vic Fangio called the team's defensive effort against Denver a learning experience. Maiocco on Perrish Cox: "Cox has seemingly surpassed Tramaine Brock on the depth chart, and figures to find a role once the regular season begins. Cox is currently the No. 2 nickel back behind Carlos Rogers and a spare corner."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News offers 49ers notes, including this one: "There was no official update on receiver/returner Ted Ginn, who was sporting an orthopedic boot around his right ankle. Ginn sustained the injury while running a reverse against the Broncos. Coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that X-rays were negative."

Clare Farnsworth of focuses on opportunistic play from Earl Thomas and the Seahawks' secondary. Farnsworth: "Thomas intercepted a Josh Portis pass that went off wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, added a second pick on a Wilson pass and then made a leaping deflection of a Russell Wilson pass that was intended for wide receiver Ben Obomanu. Thomas’ lead-by-example efforts were infectious, as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Phillip Adams also had interceptions; and safeties Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy, cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Mike Morgan and Browner broke up passes."

Also from Farnsworth: Wilson's work ethic has deep roots. The quarterback's late father used to wake his son at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to throw pass routes.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says backup Matt Flynn tested a sore elbow during Seahawks practice. Also: "The highlight of the day was a catch by wide receiver Sidney Rice over the middle as he extended to grab a ball thrown by Russell Wilson. He caught the ball with his fingertips, extending so far it really did look like he only got the first two fingers of both hands and his thumbs on the ball, pulling it to his body and tucking into a roll as cornerback Byron Maxwell dove -- futilely -- to try and break up the pass. It was simply remarkable."

More from O'Neil: thoughts on why rookie quarterbacks are getting chances to play.

Bill Swartz of 710ESPN Seattle includes this Terrell Owens-related note from coach Pete Carroll: "Carroll was asked about the release of Owens and emphasized that it had nothing to do with attitude. Carroll said he was a terrific teammate and that he'd be surprised if Owens is not given a shot by another team.

Where Seahawks stand after cuts to 75

August, 27, 2012
Releasing Terrell Owens and trading Tarvaris Jackson helped the Seattle Seahawks reach the 75-man roster limit by the NFL's deadline Monday.

No other team in the NFC West made such big waves on the first league-mandated reduction.
Coach Pete Carroll has said the Seahawks would consider bringing back Owens if the need arose. He made those comments during an interview with Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710ESPN Seattle. That audio is here .

The chart shows where Seattle stands at each position in relation to positional counts for Week 1 last season.

Jackson's departure leaves the Seahawks with the three quarterbacks they'll take into the regular season: starter Russell Wilson, backup Matt Flynn and third-stringer Josh Portis.

The team could be in the market for depth a few spots, including linebacker and possibly slot receiver, depending upon how well Doug Baldwin's hamstring injury responds.

At corner, Phillip Adams' emergence gave Seattle some protection for losing Roy Lewis to injury. The team waived Lewis with an injury designation, meaning Lewis would revert to injured reserve upon clearing waivers. Lewis played about 24 percent of the defensive snaps last season.

Earlier: thoughts on Seahawks' cuts.

Seahawks camp battle update: QBs

August, 13, 2012
Revisiting the Seattle Seahawks training-camp battle we previewed back in early July:

Quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson versus Matt Flynn versus Russell Wilson was the projected camp battle.

My take then: "Flynn, Wilson and Josh Portis are the quarterbacks they would ideally keep for the long term, but Jackson is the only one with meaningful experience. Jackson is the only one they know for sure they could trust to keep the team competitive right now. Flynn and Wilson will earn roster spots. Jackson could win one, too. He could even start, but so could Flynn or Wilson. Wilson made a spectacular first impression during organized team activities and minicamp practices. ... While it's natural to assume Flynn will emerge as the starter based on his salary and Wilson's inexperience, the Seahawks' excitement for Wilson has been palpable at every turn."

The update: Flynn and Wilson are getting the meaningful reps as the team works to determine which one, if either, represents an upgrade over Jackson. Both players helped their cause with their performances against Tennessee in the exhibition opener Saturday night. Flynn was efficient working against the Titans' starting defense. Wilson was dynamic working with -- and against -- backups.

The Seahawks will presumably want to see Wilson work with the starters in a game situation before making their decision. I have a hard time envisioning Seattle going into a season with a rookie third-round choice behind center. But if any coach would embrace such an opportunity, the unconventional Pete Carroll might be the one to do it -- especially since Wilson demonstrates more poise than many veterans.

If the competition remains close, going with Flynn as the starter heading into the season would be the easiest move.

Flynn, as a veteran earning more money, has more to lose entering the season as a backup after spending most of the offseason as the presumed starter. It might be tougher for him to bounce back from what would look like a benching. Wilson, as a rookie, came to Seattle amid lower expectations in the short term. The team could always turn to him if necessary.

That's what conventional wisdom says, at least. With Carroll, it might not apply.

NFC West training camp battles

July, 2, 2012
AFC camp battles: West | North | South | East NFC: West | North | South | East

An early look at the biggest training camp position battles:


Quarterback: Kevin Kolb versus John Skelton.

The Cardinals have grown accustomed to quarterback competitions. This one has no clear leader heading toward training camp.

The pressure is squarely on Kolb to justify the Cardinals' investment in him. He's had time to get healthy and learn the offense. Kolb should be more confident and relaxed as a result. But he has yet to take charge of the team and command the respect that only comes through performance. He'll have an extended opportunity this summer thanks to an exhibition schedule featuring five games, one more than usual.

Kolb now has 16 career starts. Skelton has 11. Neither has been consistent, but the team won more frequently with Skelton last season.


Left guard: Rokevious Watkins versus Bryan Mattison.

The Rams are counting on offensive line coach Paul Boudreau to coach up the position at right tackle and left guard in particular.

Watkins is a rookie fifth-round choice with college experience at both guard and both tackle spots. He's listed at 338 pounds and has weighed considerably more, but the scouting reports question his strength. Mattison started four games for the Rams last season after two seasons in Baltimore as a backup. I've wondered whether Quinn Ojinnaka might project as the starter here, but he's more apt to play tackle. Barry Richardson could be a consideration, as well.

Whatever the case, the Rams will likely be counting on an inexperienced left guard to help protect Sam Bradford and clear running lanes for Steven Jackson. It's important someone rises to the occasion.


Nickel corner: Chris Culliver versus Perrish Cox.

The 49ers easily could have handed the job to Culliver after the 2011 third-round choice played better than 40 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Adding Cox creates competition and improves depth at a position that has become increasingly important as offenses more use additional wide receivers.

Cox started nine games for Denver in 2010 as a rookie fifth-round pick from Oklahoma State. He missed last season amid sexual-assault accusations, then signed with the 49ers following his acquittal this offseason. Cox played for 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell in Denver, so the 49ers should have a good idea what he can offer.

Culliver seemed to fade some late in the season, no surprise for a rookie making a significant jump without the benefit of a regular offseason. He figures into the 49ers' plans no matter what, but will Cox siphon off some of his playing time?


Quarterback: Tarvaris Jackson versus Matt Flynn versus Russell Wilson.

The Seahawks face a dilemma. Flynn, Wilson and Josh Portis are the quarterbacks they would ideally keep for the long term, but Jackson is the only one with meaningful experience. Jackson is the only one they know for sure they could trust to keep the team competitive right now.

Flynn and Wilson will earn roster spots. Jackson could win one, too. He could even start, but so could Flynn or Wilson. Wilson made a spectacular first impression during organized team activities and minicamp practices. His natural leadership ability and drive showed up repeatedly in how he commanded the huddle and the way he kept pressing coaches for additional information on the offense.

While it's natural to assume Flynn will emerge as the starter based on his salary and Wilson's inexperience, the Seahawks' excitement for Wilson has been palpable at every turn. This should be a fascinating battle once training camp begins.
Life changed for Tarvaris Jackson when the Seattle Seahawks signed Matt Flynn and drafted Russell Wilson.

It's an upset, in my view, if Jackson remains with the team beyond his current contract, which runs through 2012. But it's also a little premature to suggest the team's offseason moves at the position will force out Jackson before the season. First the team needs to see what it has in Flynn and Wilson.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times thinks Jackson will remain with the team this season. O'Neil: "Seattle has not settled its quarterback situation. Not by a long shot. What the Seahawks have done is expand -- and hopefully improve -- the array of options they have with the immediate goal of improved quarterback play in 2012 and a long-term starter down the road. Maybe it is Flynn, who has passed for more yards in his first two NFL regular-season starts than all but one player in NFL history. Or perhaps it's Wilson, an incredible athlete who started for two different colleges in the previous two years in addition to playing professional baseball. And maybe -- just maybe -- it comes from Jackson who is recovered from the strained pectoral muscle that limited him the final 10 games of last season. Maybe he comes in for his second season in Seattle, cuts it loose and starts making plays in the fourth quarter." Noted: Josh Portis has practice-squad eligibility. Going with Flynn as the starter, Jackson as the backup and Wilson as the developmental third quarterback would seem to make the most sense. Wilson would seemingly have to make a big jump for a rookie to project in the No. 2 role right away.

Clare Farnsworth of says the team and eight of its draft choices saw benefits in reaching contract agreements sooner rather than later. Seahawks contract negotiator John Idzik: "It’s mutually beneficial. Obviously, we get our draft choices signed. But, from their end, they’re protected under their contract. They don’t have to concern themselves with these lengthy negotiations we’ve had in the past. Now, it’s just all about ball."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along thoughts from Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley regarding the team's secondary. Bradley: "Some guys have said, 'Well, they went to the Pro Bowl, and how is that going to affect them?' I know I got a text from Earl Thomas the other night, on Tuesday about 9:45 at night. He was trying to get the code for the DB room, to [watch] film. So right there that shows you their mentality. They'll sneak in here to try to get on the JUGS machine in the indoor practice facility at night. They're just driven that way. I think that's why we're so excited about this group."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals haven't gotten enough from their 2009 draft class. Somers: "What stands out to me is that three of the eight players have never played a down in the NFL. Cody Brown was the biggest bust, a second-round pick who couldn't get on the field. And he played a position, outside linebacker, where the Cardinals needed help desperately. The Cardinals released him after one season, and Brown bounced around the league for a couple of years. He couldn't get on the field for anyone else, either. The Lions released him last February."

Darren Urban of thought outside linebacker was a primary need for the Cardinals in the draft. Urban: "It’s not like the Cards didn’t sack opposing quarterbacks last year. As a team, they had 42, tied for seventh in the NFL. The Cards had an NFL-best nine different guys with at least two sacks. The way defensive coordinator Ray Horton does things, pressure by committee works and is much harder for which to handle. But developing those linebackers, especially the rushers on the outside, is one of the keys to any 3-4 scheme. After passing in the draft, development will be one of the things to watch at the position."

Also from Urban: 2011 second-round pick Ryan Williams feels good about his return from a knee injury.

Matthew Hathaway of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has details on plans to release proposals between the Rams and the local stadium authority. Hathaway: "The CVC maintains that -- as a party to the Rams' lease -- it legally is forbidden from making public any documents considered by the Rams to be confidential. If it does so, according the CVC, the Rams could use the disclosure as grounds to seek an immediate termination of the lease. In the lease, the state is considered a 'sponsor" of the Dome, along with the governments of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Every year since 2005, the three entities together pay off a $24 million chunk of the Dome's $720 million construction debt. Each of the governments also appoints commissioners to the CVC board." Noted: I didn't think the Rams were the ones insisting upon confidentiality.

Matt Maiocco of says Alex Smith spent time this offseason to work on his mechanics. Smith: "I saw a mechanics guru, or specialist down in L.A. I went there to kind of clean some things up with my motion. I'm really focused on getting my fundamentals better. Really didn't have time last offseason to do it."

Also from Maiocco: Rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins will arrive for the 49ers' camp this weekend with plans to stay in the area.

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News says Jenkins will skip Illinois' commencement to attend the 49ers' rookie camp.
First impressions on the Seattle Seahawks' performance in the 2012 NFL draft:

What I liked: The Seahawks, after getting much bigger in their first two seasons under Pete Carroll, added welcome speed to their roster in this draft. Pass-rusher Bruce Irvin, chosen 15th overall, had the fastest 3-cone time for any player at the NFL scouting combine. "If you look at it, our slowest guy was an offensive lineman at 4.85 (seconds in the 40-yard dash)," Carroll said. "There's great speed in this draft for us, and that's really exciting across the board, and it's going to help our special teams enormously."

Question marks: What about the offense? Seattle used a league-high seven choices for defense. One of the three offensive players selected, seventh-round guard J.R. Sweezy, was a defensive lineman in college. Another offensive pick, quarterback Russell Wilson, projects as a backup for at least this season. Fourth-round running back Robert Turbin has a chance to help as the backup to Marshawn Lynch. But it's unrealistic to think this draft will provide immediate help where the Seahawks needed it the most, on offense. This team is banking on improved quarterback play, a healthy Sidney Rice and better luck with injuries on the offensive line.

Trending: Carroll, hired in 2010, entered this draft having drafted offensive players with four of the five picks he possessed in the first three rounds. The precentage of defensive players chosen with those picks was the lowest in the NFL over the two-year period in question. The trend changed in this draft when the Seahawks used their first-round pick for Irvin and their second-rounder for Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner. Seattle's defense already ranked among the NFL leaders in yards and points allowed. This unit should be even better in 2012.

Veteran put on alert: Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson comes to mind immediately. We know the Seahawks will save a roster spot for the newly acquired Matt Flynn. We know NFL teams do not release rookie quarterbacks chosen in the third round, assuring a spot for Wilson. We do not know what the future holds for Jackson or Josh Portis. It's too early to draw conclusions. Jackson is in the running for the starting job, after all. The position just got more competitive, however.

RENTON, Wash. -- The Seattle Seahawks said they would have strongly considered drafting Ryan Tannehill with the 12th overall choice, had the quarterback been available.

Tannehill was gone to the Miami Dolphins by the time Seattle selected. The Seahawks, by selecting Wisconsin's Russell Wilson in the third round Friday, proved they were serious about considering a quarterback in the draft -- the first time the team has drafted one since hiring coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider in 2010.

Matt Flynn remains the favorite to start for Seattle in 2012. Tarvaris Jackson projects as a veteran backup, at least; Carroll has promised him a chance to compete for the starting job. Wilson gets a roster spot by virtue of his draft status, calling into question what this move means for developmental quarterback Josh Portis.

Teams generally keep two or three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Flynn and Wilson will almost certainly be part of that mix. Jackson and/or Portis could be, too. Would the Seahawks keep four? Could Portis land on the practice squad? All of that will shake out during training camp. For now, the Seahawks have a competitive situation at quarterback, and quite a few unanswered questions.
Moderately accomplished quarterbacks are more likely than great ones to mentor a young prospect, in my view.

They have less to lose.

The "Outside the Lines" video above provides fresh and archived interviews with NFC West alums Joe Montana, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer while taking a closer look at the dynamics. Montana wasn't interested in mentoring Young for obvious competitive reasons. Dilfer warmed to mentoring Matt Hasselbeck.

Young NFC West quarterbacks are largely without veteran mentors heading toward the 2012 season.

San Francisco 49ers starter Alex Smith might be the closest thing to a mentor in the division. He has the experience and personality to become a resource for second-year pro Colin Kaepernick. To what degree that has happened, I'm not sure. Smith returns as the starter, but the situation is competitive, too.

The St. Louis Rams have no veteran mentor for Sam Bradford. The Arizona Cardinals have none for Kevin Kolb or John Skelton. The Seattle Seahawks have none for new quarterback Matt Flynn, although Tarvaris Jackson is nearly 3 years older and does have 34 career regular-season starts.

Having a veteran backup as a resource makes sense in theory, especially when his presence isn't seen as an imminent threat to the young starter's job security.

Among NFC West teams, the Rams would seem to benefit the most from adding a veteran backup. They're the one team in the division with a young starter and no plans for competition at the position.

Current backup Kellen Clemens has only 12 career starts, but he does have considerable knowledge of the offensive system Bradford is learning for the first time.

The chart reflects Flynn's status as the expected starter. He has not yet won the job, however.

49ers could do worse than Alex Smith

March, 20, 2012
Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers have little choice, in my view, but to reach agreement on a new contract.

The 49ers, having missed out on Peyton Manning, cannot plausibly go from an overtime defeat in the NFC Championship Game with Smith to a relative unknown behind center.

Smith cannot plausibly leave the 49ers for a situation far less favorable to his career.

Which side has the most leverage? The 49ers have to know Smith will return at a semi-reasonable price before he'll settle for what could be a backup job for comparable money elsewhere.

Smith is running out of elsewheres, anyway.

I think that explains why team CEO Jed York has rather flatly stated that a contract offer remains on the table and the next move belongs to Smith. That strikes me as a rather arrogant view, but it also reflects the situation quite accurately. The 49ers can afford to wait when they know the likely outcome.

Players can't dive back into preparations for the upcoming season until mid-April, so it's not like the 49ers are losing ground.

Getting Smith back will give the 49ers their best shot at winning given the absence of a viable alternative.

The chart compares the numbers for Smith to those for signed NFC West quarterbacks since Week 13 of the 2010 season, when Smith returned to the starting lineup with a strong showing against Seattle. The 49ers could do a lot worse than Smith, in other words.

The other quarterbacks: Rich Bartel, Kevin Kolb and John Skelton of Arizona; Colin Kaepernick and Scott Tolzien of San Francisco; Tarvaris Jackson, Josh Portis and Matt Flynn of Seattle; and Sam Bradford of St. Louis. Not all of them played in games during the period in question. Flynn played for Green Bay. Kolb played some of the games in question for Philadelphia.
The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals reached out to Peyton Manning's representatives Wednesday in the hours after Indianapolis released the four-time MVP.

Both teams received prominent mention from ESPN's Chris Mortensen in the story appearing on the site overnight.

We know Seattle and Arizona are both interested in Manning. We do not yet know which teams Manning might prefer. And we do not yet know whether Manning will be healthy enough for any of it to matter.

But with free agency set to begin March 13, teams will want clarity sooner rather than later.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks, with Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis under contract at the position, have little choice but to consider Manning. Brewer: "There's no need to overthink it. It's this simple: The Seahawks don't have a quarterback good enough to make them true title contenders, and Manning, even if he returns at 80 percent of his greatness, makes almost any team an instant contender. Most enticing is that, with Manning, the Seahawks could continue their rebuilding and win, too. Signing the quarterback won't dramatically alter any of general manager John Schneider's long-term plans." Noted: There would be some scheme adjustments, but probably not a complete overhaul. Manning could quickly learn the offense. The Seahawks could focus on the portions that Manning likes the most.

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks the Seahawks should appeal to Manning, his former teammate.

Clare Farnsworth of waves goodbye to longtime Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Manning is the quarterback to finish what Kurt Warner started in Arizona. Warner: "As long as he's healthy, I don't think there's any question that Peyton can play at the highest level, do the things he's always done. The question for Arizona is: Are they willing to pull the trigger after what's happened at the quarterback position over the last two years? Are they willing to spend the money it's going to take?" Noted: Another question could be whether the Cardinals can find out enough about Manning's health to make an informed decision before Kevin Kolb is scheduled to earn a $7 million bonus March 17.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Warner, who vouches for Ken Whisenhunt's flexibility on offense. Warner: "I think it’s very rare. People get to a certain place or certain level because they do things their way. It's tough to put that aside and go, 'OK, I'm willing to put my job on the line for somebody else's stuff."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Manning's situation is likely to affect the Rams. Miklasz: "If Manning goes to Washington, then the Rams almost certainly would lose a potential trade partner. (The Redskins draft 6th overall.) If Manning signs in Miami (8th overall), you can remove them from the list of candidates for the No. 2 slot. On the other hand, if the Redskins can't sign Manning, it seemingly would make the franchise more desperate to trade up for QB Robert Griffin III. Same with Miami or any other team that loses out in the Manning derby."

Matt Maiocco of says the 49ers have offered a contract to Alex Smith, and they are not interested in Manning.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers should pursue Manning. Cohn: "They have a championship-caliber defense but their offense is not championship-caliber. They need an offense to complement the defense. It's more than that -- they owe their defense a worthy offense. Smith is holding back the 49ers' offense -- he is their lack and their limit. They need a better quarterback. They have a chance to get a better quarterback. Get Manning."

Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Tony Dungy on Manning and the 49ers. Dungy: "You put Peyton Manning in that offense and people are going to be scared to play them. There are other teams that fit that same feel, but San Francisco comes to the top of my mind."

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers have good reason for staying out of the Manning race. Lynch: "Smith is a healthy, ascending quarterback, while the 36-year-old Manning is an injured, descending player. The team can’t sign both and the decision to sign Smith just makes much more sense. Yes, Manning is a Hall of Fame player but after spending 14 years in the same offense, Manning would have to adjust to a West Coast system, which is not an easy transition for any player. Additionally, no one knows what kind of player Manning is after three neck surgeries."

Khaled Elsayed of Pro Football Focus lists Seattle's Brandon Mebane and San Francisco's Isaac Sopoaga among the better defenders against the run last season.