NFC West: Stacy Andrews

Carson Palmer is the 27th veteran player NFC West teams have acquired since 2010.

The Seattle Seahawks have acquired 13 of them, including current contributors Percy Harvin, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Clemons and Clinton McDonald.

Palmer, acquired by the Arizona Cardinals from the Oakland Raiders on Tuesday, joins Vonnie Holliday, Kevin Kolb and Kerry Rhodes as veteran acquisitions for the Arizona Cardinals over the past three seasons.

The chart lists all 27 for NFC West teams. Shading identifies players still on the acquiring teams' rosters.

NFC West trade acquisition scorecard

December, 12, 2012
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Marshawn Lynch had quite possibly run his course in Buffalo. The production he has sustained since Seattle acquired him probably exceeds what the Bills would have gotten from him.

That makes it tough to criticize the Bills too harshly for making a move that could cost them when the Seahawks face Buffalo in Week 15.

I thought I'd use the occasion to review NFC West player trade acquisitions since early 2010. The time period dates to John Schneider's arrival as the Seahawks' general manager. It also covers Trent Baalke's stint in the role for San Francisco and Les Snead's hiring as GM in St. Louis. Arizona fans might find the subject helpful, too, as they consider whether longtime GM Rod Graves, perceived as relatively inactive, has been aggressive enough in procuring talent.

Seattle Seahawks

Players acquired: 12

Overall impact: Significant

Best acquisitions: Lynch, Chris Clemons, Leon Washington.

Worst acquisition: Charlie Whitehurst

Also acquired: Clinton McDonald, Kellen Winslow, Kentwan Balmer, Kevin Vickerson, LenDale White, Robert Henderson, Stacy Andrews, Tyler Polumbus

Comment: Lynch has 3,043 yards rushing since making his Seahawks debut. Only Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice have more over that span. His 27 rushing touchdowns rank tied for fourth. Seattle got him for a 2011 fourth-round pick and a 2012 fifth-rounder. Clemons, acquired from Philadelphia along with a fourth-round choice for Darryl Tapp, has 31 sacks since Seattle acquired him. That ranks eighth in the NFL. Washington, acquired for a 2010 fifth-round choice, has four kickoff returns for touchdowns since the Seahawks acquired him. That is tied with Jacoby Ford for most in the NFL. He averages 31.2 yards per kickoff return this season, a career-high figure that ranks third in the NFL among players with at least 10 returns. The Whitehurst deal was a rip-off, but a least the Seahawks didn't commit too much financially. It's a deal Seattle won't hear about much if current starting quarterback Russell Wilson continues on his current course.

Arizona Cardinals

Players acquired: 4

Overall impact: Moderate to high

Best acquisitions: Kerry Rhodes

Worst acquisition: Kevin Kolb

Also acquired: Vonnie Holliday, Charles Scott

Comment: Kolb cost too much for what Arizona has reaped in return. The team was desperate for quarterback help at the time, however, and the move was defensible under the circumstances. Rhodes has been a solid starter since Arizona acquired him from the New York Jets for a 2010 fourth-round choice and a 2011 seventh-rounder. His fumble-forcing sack against Michael Vick triggered a blowout. His pass defensed in the end zone helped preserve a victory at New England. His interception against Miami set up the winning field goal in overtime. Rhodes also had two picks and a forced fumble against the Jets. He and Green Bay's Charles Woodson are the only NFL players with at least eight picks and four sacks since 2010.

San Francisco 49ers

Players acquired: 1

Overall impact: Moderate

Best acquisitions: Ted Ginn Jr.

Worst acquisition: N/A

Also acquired: N/A

Comment: Ginn has two kickoff returns for touchdowns and one punt return for a touchdown since joining the 49ers. He has averaged 11.9 yards per punt return, second only to Patrick Peterson's 12.2-yard average since 2010 among NFC West players with at least 10 returns over that span. Ginn's kickoff return average with the 49ers (23.5) ranks below the NFC West average (24.6) since 2010. Ginn has not made a significant impact as a wide receiver.

St. Louis Rams

Players acquired: 6

Overall impact: Low

Best acquisitions: Mark Clayton, Brandon Lloyd

Worst acquisitions: N/A

Also acquired: Bobby Carpenter, Dennis Morris, Kevin Payne, Wayne Hunter

Comment: Hunter is the only veteran player acquired through trade by the Rams' current leadership. He has been better than Jason Smith, the player St. Louis traded away in the Hunter deal. Clayton was looking like a terrific last-minute acquisition in 2010, but injuries prevented him from making a sustained impact. Lloyd wound up being a short-term rental during a lost 2011 season. He did provide a needed upgrade. I didn't see any "worst" acquisitions for the Rams. These were small-stakes deals.
The Seattle Seahawks went into their final exhibition game hoping injured left tackle Russell Okung would be available for the regular-season opener.

They emerged from the 20-3 victory over Oakland hoping their other starter on the left side, guard Robert Gallery, would also be available.

The knee injury Gallery suffered against his former Raiders teammates was serious enough to raise questions about his availability for Week 1. The Seahawks' left side will face a tough challenge against San Francisco in that game. Justin Smith, the 49ers' Pro Bowl defensive end, has started 155 consecutive regular-season games, easily the longest streak for active defensive linemen. It's safe to assume he'll be ready for Week 1.

Seattle went into this preseason expecting the left side of its line to serve as the foundation while the young right side found its way.

Rookie right tackle James Carpenter and rookie right guard John Moffitt remain in the early stages of development following a truncated offseason. The Seahawks will have a harder time helping them out during the regular-season opener at San Francisco if they're also funneling additional resources toward the left side.

At this point, it's arguably cruel but hardly unusual to recount the starting line combinations Seattle has used beginning last season. Tyler Polumbus, Mike Gibson, Chris Spencer, Max Unger, Sean Locklear, Ben Hamilton, Stacy Andrews and Chester Pitts started games last season. Spencer, Locklear, Hamilton and Pitts are gone.

Okung, Polumbus, Gallery, Unger, Moffitt and Carpenter have started games during the 2011 preseason. Paul McQuistan replaced Gallery during the game against Oakland.

The chart shows the 13 starting combinations Seattle has used since the 2010 regular-season opener. The final two rows show combinations used during the 2011 preseason.

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A few thoughts on NFC West rosters after calculating age ranks for NFL teams based on the rosters I maintain:
  • The chart ranks teams from oldest to youngest, excluding special-teams players who can sometimes play into their 40s. The first column shows overall rank, counting offensive and defensive players. The third and fourth columns show where teams rank on each side of the ball. These are for starters and backups. In some cases, teams might plan to release older backups on the reduction to 53 players.

  • Arizona Cardinals: Earlier in the preseason, Kevin Kolb referred to the Cardinals as a young team. They do have young players, some of whom played extensively last season and should be better for it. But the Cardinals have the sixth-oldest roster in the league overall. Vonnie Holliday (35), Clark Haggans (34), Joey Porter (34), Paris Lenon (33), Floyd Womack (32), Adrian Wilson (31), Todd Heap (31) and Nick Eason (31) are some of them. The team has also favored veteran offensive linemen, including veteran backups.

  • St. Louis Rams: The Rams got older on purpose, adding seasoning to their defense through players added on one-year deals. Al Harris (36) is the oldest non-specialist on the team. James Hall (34) and Fred Robbins (34) remain valuable contributors. Both start. Rookie Robert Quinn will likely replace Hall at some point. Drafting a defensive tackle in the first round of the 2012 draft could make sense, too. Some of the Rams' additions could come at the expense of incumbent veterans such as Hank Fraley (34 next month) and Na'il Diggs (33).

  • San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have gotten younger this offseason, particularly on defense. They subtracted Takeo Spikes (34), Aubrayo Franklin (31 this week), Travis LaBoy (30), Brian Westbrook, Nate Clements (31), Brian Westbrook (32 next month), William James (32), Barry Sims (36) and Demetric Evans (32 next month).. Fulback Moran Norris (33) is their oldest non-specialist. The team has only six non-specialists in their 30s, half as many as the Cardinals have.

  • Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have been getting younger by design over the past two seasons. Like the 49ers, they have only six non-specialists in their 30s, with none older than 33 (Raheem Brock). They have subtracted Sean Locklear (30), Matt Hasselbeck (36 next month), Stacy Andrews (30), J.P. Losman (30), Brandon Stokley (35), Lawyer Milloy (37), Chester Pitts (32) and Craig Terrill (31). Most general managers want to make their teams younger when starting out. In Seattle, the head coach is also amendable to that approach. But a few players such as Brock (33), Junior Siavii (32), Colin Cole (31), Marcus Trufant (30) and Atari Bigby (30 next month) have kept the Seahawks defensive ranking from sinking further. Seattle is 16th oldest on that side of the ball.

I've sprouted a couple new gray hairs just typing in some of these names. Might be time to squeeze in an afternoon workout.

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along thoughts from John Clayton on Seattle's options in free agency. Clayton: "I think by [Tuesday] Tarvaris Jackson could be agreeing to a deal that's going to make him a Seahawk. ... Everything I heard today, he's on a fast-track waiting for that offer and he's willing to take it."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks have told Stacy Andrews they play to release the veteran tackle. Andrews had an outside shot at becoming the right tackle until the team used a first-round draft choice for James Carpenter. Andrews' salary was a factor. He was scheduled to earn $5.25 million, plus a $500,000 workout bonus. The team will have to pay $100,000 of that workout bonus if it releases Andrews before Friday. Teams can begin releasing players Thursday.

Also from O'Neil: a look at the Seahawks' priorities in free agency. O'Neil: "The team's preference remains re-signing Matt Hasselbeck, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks are inclined to increase the offer they made him in March. In fact, it's quite possible -- perhaps even likely -- they'll hold firm." My understanding is that the offer made before free agency likely will not be there now.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks need to make a decision on Hasselbeck. Brewer: "The Seahawks' challenge is to find the best placeholder until they identify their next franchise quarterback. In this case, it might be more enticing to give someone new a chance rather than stick with the old guy. Can the Seahawks do better than Hasselbeck? It's debatable. Can they do worse? Oh, that's the scary part of this movie."

Ben Malcolmson of seahawks.com posts photos Rod Mar took around team headquarters as the team prepared for free agency. Ken Norton Jr., Pete Carroll and John Schneider were among those making the cut.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com looks back at the Seahawks' 2002 season. Farnsworth: "Matt Hasselbeck led the NFC in completion percentage (.637) and was second in passer rating (87.8) while throwing for 3,075 yards and 15 TDs in 10 starts."

Christian Caple of seattlepi.com rounds up reported contract agreements for Seattle involving rookie free agents.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune catches up with Lofa Tatupu and Golden Tate on the golf course. They were playing in a charity tournament in Tacoma. Tatupu said the team should could win another NFC West title with Hasselbeck. Tatupu: "Absolutely. With the knowledge he has and our new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell coming in and his scheme, it kind of takes him back to from what I’ve heard the Holmgren era, and puts him in that true West Coast system, where he gets to his timing routes. And there’s nobody better than Hasselbeck when you give him protection and a running game, which from my feeling with what we did in the draft, with our first two picks being offensive linemen, I think they are building on trying to get him that protection and get him comfortable. As far as I’m concerned, when you get him protection and get him in his zone, I don’t think there’s much better."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune considers whether Seattle should bring back Hasselbeck. Boling: "As for his place in the market, Hasselbeck is more valuable to an established team lacking only a quarterback than to a Seahawks team rebuilding in so many areas. Another club could easily woo him with a longer and more lucrative deal. It’s clear he’s not the long-range answer here, so he might relish the chance of getting another shot at a ring with another club, despite his often-stated affection for the community."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with the Cardinals for thoughts on free agency and the trading period. Whisenhunt: ""It's going to go from zero to 100 from a working perspective for us. It's going to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week just because of the volume of what you have to get done."

Also from Somers: setting the scene at Cardinals headquarters. Somers: "The second floor of the Cardinals' Tempe facility could look more like a call center Tuesday than the offices of coaches and front-office executives. It's the first day of negotiations for free agents and trades, and by the time the football people see their families again, the kids will have grown a foot, gone off to college, or both. Practically everyone who knows a 3-technique from a 3-iron is being called into duty as the NFL begins its mad season at 7 a.m."

More from Somers: Cardinals players will begin reporting Thursday. They'll head to training camp at Northern Arizona University on Friday.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along a photo showing Larry Fitzgerald on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects the Rams to practice beginning Saturday. Coats: "Although nothing is official yet, it looks as if the St. Louis Rams will have their first training camp practice on Saturday -- two weeks before their preseason opener vs. the Colts on Aug. 13 at the Edward Jones Dome. Rams players would report for physicals and other pre-camp activities on Friday. The team will hold training camp at Rams Park for the third year in a row."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams players are ready to dive back into work. Guard Adam Goldberg: "I think here in St. Louis we have a great football season ahead of us, I just hope to be a part of it. I love the locker room. I love my teammates. I love playing for Spags. I love my line coach (Steve Loney). I'm excited to play in (offensive coordinator) Josh McDaniels' system. I think it'll be explosive and dynamic. So this is obviously a great situation for me. Then again it's a business, so we'll have to see how things work it."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com outlines the Rams' upcoming schedule. Wagoner: "The Rams cannot hold a padded practice until Monday, August 1. In addition, they will not hold an actual practice until Saturday as Friday is for reporting, physicals and meetings."

VanRam of Turf Show Times rounds up reported contract agreements for the Rams.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com lists undrafted free agents expected to sign with the 49ers. On Notre Dame nose tackle Ian Williams: "In nine games last season, he recorded 38 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He played against Stanford throughout his career, and said that experience of playing against Jim Harbaugh's team every season was beneficial."

Also from Maiocco: Harbaugh has some nervous energy heading into 49ers camp. Harbaugh: "We had scheduled two-a-days as part of our plan, but the plan has changed. There are new rules that will go into affect this training camp. There's been a lot of thinking, how best to manage the time we have. The teaching, the quality reps on the field, who can do that best will get the leg up. It takes some thinking through."

More from Maiocco: thoughts on Hasselbeck and the 49ers. Maiocco: "Why would the 49ers add Hasselbeck via free agency? The answer is simple: The 49ers believe Hasselbeck would be an upgrade over Carr and he could supply serious competition for Alex Smith."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at undrafted free agents expected to sign with the 49ers. On Stanford center Chase Beeler: "CBS Sports ranked him as the 15th-best center in the draft. Earned second team All-Pac-10 Conference honors in his first season as Stanford's starting center after taking over for Alex Fletcher ... made a smooth transition from left guard to the center position ... started all 13 games and played a key role on a line that allowed the fewest sacks (7) in the Pac-10 and helped pave the way for the top rushing attack in school history (2,837) ... earned second team All-Pac-10 academic honors ... recipient of the Vardell Award as the player who best combines athletics and academics."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers a transcript from Harbaugh's media session. Harbaugh: "As I understand it, our own unrestricted free agents will be allowed in the building tomorrow right up until the time that we start training camp on Thursday then they will not be in the building until Friday when they can sign. That’s the way I understand the rule."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News also reports from Harbaugh's news conference. Harbaugh: "I can’t tell you how good it’s going to be having those guys in the building, face to face, knee to knee, smelling their breath, just getting to know them and letting them know me. That’s what I’m looking forward to most."
NFL teams are digesting new rules associated with the pending labor agreement, including provisions affecting workout bonuses that players receive for participating in set percentages of a team's conditioning program during a typical offseason.

Those rules include protections for teams and players, according to a list of "transition rules" produced for distribution to teams.

Free agency begins Friday at 6 p.m. ET. Teams can begin cutting players Thursday after 4 p.m. ET Thursday. Any player remaining with his current team after 4 p.m. ET Friday will receive his workout bonus in full, according to the transition rules.

Players released before then will receive partial payments of these bonuses. Players set to receive bonuses worth less than $50,000 would receive the full amount. Players due bonuses valued from $50,000 to $100,000 would receive $50,000. Players with bonuses larger than $100,000 would receive 50 percent of the total amount, not to exceed $100,000.

The chart below shows NFC West players with workout bonuses of $200,000 or more. Stacy Andrews, Nate Clements and Joey Porter stand out as players with less certain roster statuses heading toward the 2011 season.

NFC West teams happily welcomed first-round selections Patrick Peterson (Arizona Cardinals), Aldon Smith (San Francisco 49ers), Robert Quinn (St. Louis Rams) and James Carpenter (Seattle Seahawks).

Each player changes his new team's dynamics at his position. A quick look at the immediate implications.

Arizona Cardinals

Added: Peterson

Position affected: cornerback

Implications: Greg Toler no longer projects as the starter opposite Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Teams use more than two cornerbacks a significant percentage of the time, so Toler figures to get on the field anyway. But there's no question Toler will see fewer snaps now that Peterson and Rodgers-Cromartie are the top two corners. Speaking of Rodgers-Cromartie, he's also affected by Peterson's arrival. His status as the most talented cornerback on the roster is in question. Peterson could raise overall expectations for the position.

San Francisco 49ers

Added: Smith

Position affected: outside linebacker

Implications: The 49ers expect the versatile Smith to help out in more than one place, but outside linebacker is his primary position. Smith's arrival could signal Manny Lawson's departure via free agency. Lawson, a first-round choice in 2006, has been solid, but not a standout (except on special teams, where he can be a dominant force). Lawson, like Aaron Curry in Seattle and Levi Brown in Arizona, gets measured in relation to his draft status. Each was arguably over-drafted, but that doesn't make any of them bad players. Smith's addition does call into question whether Lawson will return.

St. Louis Rams

Added: Quinn

Position affected: defensive end

Implications: Quinn projects as the eventual replacement for right defensive end James Hall. I don't see Quinn's addition endangering Hall in the immediate term. Hall showed last season he's still a productive player. He's a respected leader and much stronger against the run than Quinn would be at this stage. For now, Quinn gives the Rams another weapon for rushing the passer. He makes their rotation deeper. For the long term, he gives them a replacement for the 34-year-old Hall, but there's no rush. Hall can mentor Quinn, who did not play in 2010 and needs some seasoning.

Seattle Seahawks

Added: Carpenter

Position affected: right tackle

Implications: Carpenter projects as the immediate starter at right tackle. Sean Locklear has been Seattle's starter previously, but the team shortened his contract to run through 2010 only. I wouldn't expect him back. Stacy Andrews was another candidate to start at right tackle, but with Carpenter in the picture and Andrews' salary spiking to $5.25 million in 2011, Andrews' future with the team appears in question. The Seahawks expect Carpenter, left tackle Russell Okung and center Max Unger to make Seattle tougher up front. Carpenter's addition signals a culture change on the line for Seattle. It could be "out with the old" at this position.

NFC West players that should report

April, 25, 2011
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The NFL has no plans to open for business immediately following a court ruling against the lockout, but that should not stop players from reporting to work as a matter of strategy.

As noted in March, numerous NFC West players stood to collect significant sums for their participation in offseason workout programs. Those players have every reason to report for work Tuesday, just in case it helps them collect on those bonuses.

This is a fluid situation, obviously, and no one knows for certain what will happen next. It's an upset, however, if players do not show up for work following the ruling Monday.

The chart shows NFC West players with workout bonuses of at least $200,000, plus a column showing what percentage of workouts players must attend to realize the bonus. A few players on the list project as candidates for release this offseason.


The Seattle Seahawks sent only a seventh-round draft choice to Philadelphia for veteran offensive lineman Stacy Andrews.

Andrews
Andrews
The price was low, but the trade still qualified as a short-term disappointment when Andrews did not hold down a starting job on an offensive line that used 11 starting combinations.

Coach Pete Carroll thinks the Seahawks can and probably will reap long-term benefits from the deal as Andrews transitions to right tackle for the 2011 season.

"Stacy is a legitimate factor at right tackle," Carroll said from the NFL owners meeting. "That is his natural position. We brought him in to play right tackle and when Max Unger got hurt, it necessitated the move right away and he didn't get a chance to play right tackle."

Andrews earned $1.15 million from the Seahawks last season. The Eagles paid a $4.1 million bonus to him. His deal calls for $5.25 million in salary for 2011. It's tough to envision an NFL team paying that much for a backup. The Seahawks do have an opening at right tackle after chopping off the final year from starter Sean Locklear's contract.

"That's a spot that Stacy will compete at," Carroll said. "That to me is an exciting opportunity. His body type and his mentality and his background, even though he played guard at Philadelphia, he really is a natural tackle. Hard-working guy and all that kind of stuff. We'll see how that works out."
A few notes on the choices NFL teams hold in the 2011 draft:
  • The Seattle Seahawks have acquired a league-high four selections from other teams. They have a fourth-rounder acquired from New England for Deion Branch; a fifth-rounder from Baltimore for Josh Wilson; a sixth-rounder from Detroit for Lawrence Jackson; and a seventh-rounder from Cleveland for Seneca Wallace.
  • The high number of acquired picks reflects the team's decision to get value for players it did not envision keeping for the long term.
  • Only three teams -- New England, San Diego and Denver -- own picks in the first three rounds acquired from other teams. The Chargers have two, including the third-rounder they acquired from Seattle in the Charlie Whitehurst deal.
  • The Seahawks have also given up a league-high four 2011 picks, including selections in the third, fourth, sixth and seventh rounds. Those picks helped to acquire Whitehurst, Marshawn Lynch, Kentwan Balmer and Stacy Andrews.
  • The Arizona Cardinals are without the seventh-round pick they sent to the New York Jets in the Kerry Rhodes deal. They also parted with a 2010 fourth-rounder.
  • The St. Louis Rams are without the sixth-round pick they sent to Baltimore in the Mark Clayton trade. They have the Ravens' seventh-rounder as part of that deal.
  • The San Francisco 49ers hold the Chargers' fourth-round pick as part of a deal made with San Diego during the 2010 draft. San Diego sent the 91st and 173rd choices of the 2010 draft, plus the 2011 fourth-rounder, to San Francisco for the 79th pick last year. The Chargers drafted linebacker Donald Butler. The 49ers drafted NaVorro Bowman and Anthony Dixon with the picks from San Diego.
  • The 49ers also hold Seattle's sixth-rounder from the Balmer deal and a seventh-rounder acquired from the Detroit Lions in the Shaun Hill trade.

So many of the picks mentioned above were acquired in deals involving veteran players. Those types of deals will not happen during a lockout.
The price NFL players pay in the weight room can pay off in more ways than one.

As ESPN's Adam Schefter notes, a long list of NFL players stand to collect substantial sums for participating in most of their team's offseason workouts -- provided the lockout ends in time for them to participate.

I've broken out the NFC West players listed. The chart shows their workout bonus amounts and the percentages of workouts needed to qualify.

The San Francisco 49ers' Nate Clements has $500,000 in workout bonuses throughout his contract -- a total of $2.5 million from his signing in 2007 through this offseason -- but he prefers to train away from the facility, bypassing the cash.

Fred Robbins/Chris ClemonsAP Photo/US PresswireFred Robbins, left, and Chris Clemons were among the best acquisitions in the NFC West last season.
The Seattle Seahawks acquired their leading sacker for 2010, Chris Clemons, from the Philadelphia Eagles one year ago Tuesday.

They acquired their backup quarterback and potential future starter, Charlie Whitehurst, from San Diego one year ago Wednesday.

By this time in 2010, the Arizona Cardinals had traded receiver Anquan Boldin, lost Antrel Rolle and Karlos Dansby in free agency, acquired safety Kerry Rhodes from the New York Jets and signed linebacker Paris Lenon, among other moves.

This March, we hear only crickets as the NFL lockout prevents teams from making roster transactions of any kind. The quiet period has shifted our football-related energies to the draft, which the league intends to operate pretty much as normal.

While draft classes can take multiple years to fully assess, free-agent crops tend to produce more immediate results, for better or worse. Let's take a look back at what NFC West teams got -- and still might get -- from their wheeling and dealing last offseason.

2010 unrestricted free agency

Best UFA signing: Fred Robbins, defensive tackle, St. Louis Rams.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo reached into his past with the New York Giants in seeking a needed upgrade to the Rams' defensive interior. Robbins outplayed the three-year deal he signed averaging $3.75 million per season.

Robbins started 16 games and collected a career-high six sacks for a defense that outperformed expectations. His presence on the line helped defensive ends Chris Long and James Hall produce at a higher level.

Worst UFA signing: David Carr, quarterback, San Francisco 49ers.

[+] EnlargeDavid Carr
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesDavid Carr attempted only 13 passes last season.
The 49ers signed Carr and traded backup Shaun Hill in an effort to upgrade the position, but when they needed Carr to play, coach Mike Singletary gave him virtually no chance. Carr finished up the Carolina game before Singletary turned to third-stringer Troy Smith to start while Alex Smith recovered from injury.

It's tough to fault Carr much for what was, by all accounts, a messed-up situation. The 49ers' general manager, Scot McCloughan, left the organization shortly after the team acquired Carr. The team changed offensive coordinators early in the season. Singletary didn't know how to handle quarterbacks.

Conclusion: NFC West teams signed relatively few UFAs last offseason, in part because new rules prevented players with fewer than six accrued seasons from hitting the market. Jay Feely, Paris Lenon and Rex Hadnot signed with Arizona. Robbins and A.J. Feeley signed with the Rams. Ben Hamilton and Sean Morey signed with Seattle. Carr and William James signed with the 49ers.

2010 additions by trade


Best acquisition: Chris Clemons, defensive end, Seahawks

Seattle and Philadelphia seemed to be swapping spare parts when the Seahawks sent Darryl Tapp to the Eagles for Clemons.

Neither player had reached his potential previously.

Clemons set career highs with 11 sacks and 16 starts while filling the "Leo" position in coach Pete Carroll's defense. Tapp had three sacks and one start for the Eagles, making this deal a clear "win" for Seattle.

The Seahawks also received a fifth-round choice in return from the Eagles, but the player they selected with the choice, defensive end E.J. Wilson, was released during the season.

Worst acquisition: Stacy Andrews, guard, Seahawks.

The Seahawks could still come out OK on this one. The team had Andrews in mind as a candidate to play tackle in 2011, and that could still happen. But Andrews wasn't effective enough as a starting guard to stay in the lineup even though Seattle had serious manpower problems on its offensive line.

Perhaps Seattle can put Andrews to better use in 2011.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Whitehurst
Otto Greule Jr./Getty ImagesThe Seahawks acquired Charlie Whitehurst last year from San Diego as a potential future starter.
Conclusion: Charlie Whitehurst could have made the "worst" list for Seattle because he hardly played even though quarterback was a trouble spot, but his performance in Week 17 carried Seattle into the playoffs. He could still validate the trade. Ted Ginn Jr. was a disappointment as a wide receiver for the 49ers, but injuries and quarterback instability contributed. Ginn upgraded the return game. NFC West teams fared well in acquiring Leon Washington, Kerry Rhodes and Mark Clayton. Marshawn Lynch's memorable run against New Orleans in the playoffs made that deal look better.

2010 subtractions by trade

Best subtraction: Alex Barron, tackle, from the Rams.

St. Louis got nothing of lasting value in return for Barron, but the penalty-prone tackle was not missed. Rookie Rodger Saffold stepped in at left tackle and outperformed reasonable expectations for a rookie. Barron's time in St. Louis had run its course. The team was taking a risk with its depth by dumping Barron for linebacker Bobby Carpenter, who did not stick on the roster, but the move worked out well from the Rams' perspective.

Worst subtraction: Rob Sims, guard, from the Seahawks.

Seattle's thinking on the offensive line seemed disjointed.

Line coach Alex Gibbs retired a week before the season, changing the qualities Seattle valued in its linemen. Gibbs preferred smaller linemen, particularly guards. Sims was a solid starter, but he didn't fit the Gibbs profile. Seattle sent Sims and a seventh-round choice to Detroit for Robert Henderson, who did not earn a roster spot. The Seahawks also landed a fifth-round choice, used for strong safety Kam Chancellor.

The Seahawks used 11 starting combinations on their offensive line last season, and every one of them would have been better with Sims at left guard. Sims started 16 games for the Lions and played well, by all accounts. His presence in Seattle would have allowed the team to get more from Lynch in the ground game.

Conclusion: The trade that subtracted Boldin from the Cardinals might have qualified under different circumstances, but the time had come for Arizona to part with the exceptional wideout. The team picked up a third-round choice as partial compensation, a pick used for promising receiver Andre Roberts. The 49ers get mention here for the deal that sent Hill to Detroit and cleared the way for Carr's signing. Hill had a 10-6 record as a starter for San Francisco. Even if he wasn't the answer long term, he would have give the team better options in 2010. NFC West teams also parted with Deion Branch, Lawrence Jackson, Josh Wilson, Adam Carriker and Kentwan Balmer, among others, by trade last offseason.

Looking to the future

NFL teams remain unsettled from a roster standpoint while they wait for a labor resolution of some kind.

The Rams are the only NFC West team without serious question marks at quarterback. Lingering questions at that position will hang over the 49ers, Cardinals and Seahawks while the lockout continues.

Getting a new collective bargaining agreement in place before the draft would help those teams more than others by clearing the way for them to pursue veteran passers. Otherwise, these teams could feel extra pressure to address the position in the draft -- a difficult predicament given the hit-and-miss nature of quarterback evaluation in general.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers plan to attend a private workout for Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Barrows: "The 6-5, 225-pound Kaepernick has the strongest arm of any quarterback in this draft, and he led the Wolf Pack to a 13-1 record this past season. He completed 233 of 359 attempts (64.9 percent) for 3,022 yards, 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also was a very good runner and is the only player in NCAA history with more than 4,000 rushing yards to go along with more than 10,000 passing yards. When the college season ended, Kaepernick was viewed as a mid-round selection. However, he showed better-than-expected touch and accuracy at the January Senior Bowl. He also was one of the better passers at the combine, and is now viewed as a second-round prospect."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Rams' situation at receiver, among other positions, during his most recent chat. Thomas: "All indications are that Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton are doing fine. But you never know for sure until they get back out on the field practicing. Maybe I'm blanking out, but I don't recall any surgery for Laurent Robinson. Robinson was tendered by the Rams as a restricted free agent (since he's a four-year man that tender wouldn't take effect if we return to the old standard for unrestricted free agency). If that's the case and Robinson becomes unrestricted once there's a new CBA, I don't think the Rams would extend themselves to get Robinson back."

Brian McIntyre of Mac's Football Blog, writing for the Tacoma News Tribune, lists which Seahawks players stand to lose the most financially during a lockout. McIntyre: "The Seahawks' player with the most to lose is offensive lineman Stacy Andrews, who is due a $500,000 workout bonus this off-season. 2010 first-round pick Russell Okung has a $200,000 workout bonus, while Marcus Trufant, Lofa Tatupu, Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons, and Mike Williams have $100,000 workout bonuses. Kentwan Balmer ($62,500) and John Carlson ($60,000) stand to lose five-figure workout bonuses this off-season. Marshawn Lynch has an $8,120 workout bonus from his Buffalo Bills contract, while Max Unger stands to miss out on a $7,000 workout bonus in his rookie contract."

Aaron Wilson of National Football Post lists the Cardinals among teams planning to visit with LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson as the 2011 draft nears. Wilson: "Peterson is scheduled to visit the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills. Peterson also has a private workout Wednesday for the Cleveland Browns and is also expected to visit the Tennessee Titans and other teams prior to the NFL draft. ... At the Senior Bowl, Peterson met with the Panthers, Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins, Broncos, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers."

Draft Watch: NFC West

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: biggest team needs.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback stands out as the most obvious need for the Cardinals after Arizona suffered through a rough 2010 season with Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton under center. Acquiring a veteran passer in free agency or trade would clear the way for Arizona to focus on other areas in the draft. But if the labor impasse continues through April, the Cardinals will face more pressure to find one in the draft.

Beyond quarterback, the Cardinals need fresh talent at outside linebacker to improve their pass rush and perimeter run defense. They need help at offensive tackle, where Levi Brown hasn’t played to his status as the fifth player drafted in 2007. Their starting interior offensive linemen are without contracts for 2011, so that area is another concern.

Arizona does not have a starting-caliber tight end. Inside linebacker is another position needing attention.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback, cornerback and outside linebacker rank among primary needs for a team that has invested five first-round picks in its offense since 2006, including three over the past two drafts.

David Carr is the only quarterback under contract to the 49ers for 2011. Starting cornerback Nate Clements will not return under his current contract. Will Alex Smith come back for another year?

While San Francisco’s front seven has been strong, the team hasn’t had a player reach double digits in sacks since Andre Carter had 12.5 in 2002. That was also the last time the 49ers posted a winning record. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes to build around a pass-rusher and a cover corner.

Nose tackle could become another concern. Starter Aubrayo Franklin played last season as a franchise player. The balloon payment Washington paid to Albert Haynesworth pumped up the projected franchise value for defensive tackles, making it prohibitive for the 49ers to name Franklin their franchise player for a second consecutive season, should the designation exist in a new labor agreement.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are set at quarterback and picking late enough in the first round -- 14th overall -- to let the draft come to them. They’re in position to benefit when a highly ranked player falls unexpectedly. They should not feel pressured to reach for a position even though they do have needs.

It’s important for the team to arm Sam Bradford with a more dynamic outside receiving threat. Injuries severely weakened the position last season. Front-line talent was lacking at the position even when most of the Rams’ wideouts were healthy.

Defensive tackle and outside linebacker jump out as two additional primary needs. Finding a defensive end to develop behind James Hall would also make sense. Landing a right guard in the draft would solidify the offensive line while letting 2010 starter Adam Goldberg back up multiple positions. The team also needs safety help after letting Oshiomogho Atogwe leave. Finding a change-of-pace back to supplement Steven Jackson's contributions might count as a luxury.

Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback will be a primary need if the Seahawks fail to re-sign Matt Hasselbeck. The position needs to be stocked for the long term even if Hasselbeck does come back for an 11th season with the team.

Restocking the offensive line must take priority no matter what happens at quarterback. The Seahawks’ running game has disappeared in recent seasons, putting too much pressure on the rest of the offense. Drafting left tackle Russell Okung sixth overall a year ago was a start. Seattle needs to find answers at both guard spots and probably right tackle (assuming Max Unger returns from injury and takes over at center, as expected). Adding Robert Gallery in free agency could take off some pressure in the draft. Gallery played under Seattle's new line coach, Tom Cable, in Oakland.

The cornerback situation needs attention. Marcus Trufant’s salary jumps significantly, raising questions about how the team will view him coming off an inconsistent season. Another corner Seattle chose in the first round, Kelly Jennings, is without a contract and lacks the size Seattle prefers at the position.

Leading Questions: NFC West

February, 14, 2011
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With the offseason in full swing, let’s take a look at one major question facing each NFC West team as it begins preparations for the 2011 season:

ARIZONA CARDINALS

What happens to the offensive line?

We've been asking, answering and asking some more questions about the Cardinals' quarterback situation for months. Let's tap a few brain cells to discuss the guys up front.

Center Lyle Sendlein and right guard Deuce Lutui are without contracts for 2011. Left guard Alan Faneca might retire. Right tackle Brandon Keith is coming off hamstring and knee injuries that shortened his first season as a starter. The Cardinals do not have fresh talent in reserve. They have drafted only one offensive lineman in the first four rounds since Ken Whisenhunt became head coach in 2007. Twenty-seven teams have drafted more. As much as the team trusts assistant head coach Russ Grimm to get the most from its offensive line, Arizona could use fresh young talent for him to groom.

The Cardinals went through the 2010 season with the NFL's oldest offensive linemen, counting backups. That wouldn't matter so much if left tackle Levi Brown were meeting the Pro Bowl expectations that came with his status as a top-five overall selection in the 2007 draft. Brown was underwhelming at right tackle to begin his career and a liability at left tackle last season. His salary balloons in 2012, so this could be his last season in Arizona.

ST. LOUIS RAMS

Can the defense take the next step?

The Rams allowed 328 points last season, tied for the third-lowest total since the team moved from Los Angeles for the 1995 season. They allowed seven rushing touchdowns, their lowest total since 1999 and down from 50 combined over the previous two seasons. But with starting defensive linemen James Hall and Fred Robbins turning 34 this offseason, and with questions at linebacker, the Rams' defense will not automatically go from competitive toward dominant.

Hall will be looking to become the 14th player since 1982 (when the NFL began tracking sacks as an official stat) to collect 10 sacks in a season at age 34 or older. The others: Trace Armstrong, Chris Doleman, William Fuller, Kevin Greene, Rickey Jackson, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Tony McGee, Steve McMichael, John Randle, Warren Sapp, Bruce Smith, Michael Strahan and Reggie White.

Robbins is coming off one of his finest seasons. He joined Keith Traylor, Jeff Zgonina and Ray Agnew among defensive tackles to set career highs for sacks at age 32 or older in the free-agency era (since 1993).

Getting similar production and continued good health from two older players is no given. The Rams also need to find help at outside linebacker after losing 32-year-old Na'il Diggs to a torn pectoral muscle 12 games into the 2010 season. The Rams are set at middle linebacker with James Laurinaitis, but they could stand to upgrade around him.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

How well can Jim Harbaugh coach up a quarterback?

When the 49ers' new coach needed a quarterback at Stanford, he recruited one. Andrew Luck set records and led the Cardinal to national prominence. Recruiting isn't a significant part of the equation in the NFL, so Harbaugh will have to settle for the best quarterback he can draft or otherwise acquire. He might even have to give Alex Smith a shot.

The 49ers will need Harbaugh to do what his recent predecessors could not: get good production from limited or flawed talent at the most important position.

Rich Gannon was well-established as an NFL quarterback when Harbaugh arrived as his position coach in Oakland for the 2002 season. The pairing reflected well on all parties. Gannon set career highs for completed passes, attempts, completion percentage, passing yards and passer rating. Gannon was already a good quarterback and the Raiders were already a good team, so it's tough to measure Harbaugh's impact.

Gannon is long since retired. Harbaugh is back in the NFL for the first time since the two were together on the Raiders in 2003. The 49ers don't have a legitimate starting quarterback under contract. Harbaugh has been meeting with Smith and keeping open his options. The stakes are high in the short term because the 49ers have enough talent elsewhere on their roster to compete for a playoff spot.

Outside expectations for Smith are so low that Harbaugh could appear heroic if he could get even a 9-7 record out of the 49ers with Smith in the lineup.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

How much more roster turnover lies ahead?

The Seahawks were fearless in overhauling their roster during their first year under general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll.

The team added Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, Chris Clemons, Stacy Andrews, Tyler Polumbus, Kentwan Balmer, Kevin Vickerson, Robert Henderson and LenDale White, though Seattle parted with Vickerson, Henderson, White and 2009 regulars Deion Branch, Julius Jones, Owen Schmitt, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Josh Wilson, Lawrence Jackson, Rob Sims, Darryl Tapp, Deon Grant and Seneca Wallace. The Seahawks watched a couple other starters, Nate Burleson and Cory Redding, leave in free agency.

If those were the moves the Seahawks felt comfortable making right away, I figured there would be quite a few to come after the team's new leadership watched players for a full season. And there still could be, but similar wheeling and dealing could be impractical or even impossible if the current labor standoff continues deep into the offseason.

Teams cannot make trades without a new labor agreement. They cannot know for sure whether or not a salary cap will come into play as part of any new deal. It's just tough to act as decisively as Seattle acted last offseason without knowing the rules. That's a disadvantage for Seattle and other teams with much work to do this offseason.

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