NFC West: Tarvaris Jackson

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson is listed as questionable on the injury report because of an illness. Jackson did not practice Thursday. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wasn't asked about Jackson's status Friday.

If the Seahawks feel Jackson can't play Sunday at San Francisco, they will need a roster move to activate rookie quarterback B.J. Daniels, who is on the practice squad. Daniels started the season with the 49ers, but was picked up by Seattle when San Francisco released him Oct. 2. Daniels was released on Nov. 16 and signed to the practice squad two days later.

Receiver Percy Harvin and cornerback Brandon Browner won’t play Sunday, but the Seahawks will have two starters on defense – linebacker Bruce Irvin and defensive end Chris Clemons -- who didn’t play in the first game against the 49ers this season.

And San Francisco has receiver Michael Crabtree, who didn’t play in the 29-3 loss to Seattle on Sept. 15. Crabtree made his season debut last week.

“They have a great boost in their leading receiver coming back,” Carroll said. “They look well equipped and we’re in pretty good shape ourselves, so we don’t have any excuses in this one.”

Harvin continues to be “week to week’’ Carroll said, with soreness in his surgically-repaired hip. Browner continues to have problems with a severely strained groin, but he also is awaiting news on his appeal of a possible one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy.

Carroll said he hasn’t heard anything on Browner’s appeal, but added that Browner did not improve this week on his groin injury.

“He came out on the field and worked [Wednesday],” Carroll said. “But he did not make much progress, so we didn’t bring him back out.”

Irvin, who has a thigh bruise, returned to practice Friday after sitting out earlier this week. Carroll said Irvin was ready to go. He was in the second game of a four-game suspension for PEDs in the first game with the 49ers.

Clemons missed the first two games of the season while still rehabbing from offseason knee surgery.

Upon Further Review: Seahawks Week 3

September, 23, 2013
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An examination of four hot issues from the Seattle Seahawks' 45-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

[+] EnlargeSidney Rice
AP Photo/Stephen BrashearSidney Rice pulled in two touchdown passes in a 45-17 rout of the Jaguars.
A cleaner and better offense: The Seahawks offense accomplished two big goals Sunday of cutting down on senseless penalties and getting off to a better start, especially in the passing game, than in the first two games. Seattle had only three offensive penalties for 20 yards. Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes, including three in the first half, and Tarvaris Jackson also had a touchdown throw.

Was Pro Bowl tackle Russell Okung missed?: Well, not much when you play a team as weak as the Jaguars, but the real question is whether it will hurt the Seahawks in coming weeks against better opponents. First up are the Houston Texans and monster defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Paul McQuistan had some good moments and some bad moments Sunday in Okung's left tackle spot. “He did alright and hung in there pretty nice,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of McQuistan. Carroll was happy rookie tackles Michael Bowie and Alvin Bailey got to play in the lopsided game. “To have a chance to get them in the game was awesome,” Carroll said. “They got significant playing time.”

An abundance of riches on the defensive line: With the return of defensive end Chris Clemons, who looked good in pressuring the quarterback on passing downs, the Seahawks have a scary bunch up front. The coaches had a goal in the offseason to shore up the pass rush with free-agent acquisitions, and it worked. Defensive end Michael Bennett has been sensational. He had 1.5 sacks Sunday and a tackle for loss. O'Brien Schofield has been a solid contributor, starting at linebacker Sunday for injured Malcolm Smith. And defensive end Cliff Avril is another pass-rush specialist who adds to the attacking defense. Defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin will add to the depth in two weeks when he returns from suspension.

Staying focused: The Seahawks pounced on the Jaguars from the outset, not allowing for any type of letdown or lack of effort against a lesser opponent. Seattle led 31-0 before Jacksonville scored. The Jaguars had only 20 yards rushing in the first half and only 44 yards passing. Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had 55 yards rushing in the first quarter on nine carries. Seattle came out smoking and had the game won by halftime, when they were up 24-0. The final score is misleading because the Seahawks were playing mostly reserves in the second half, and all of Jacksonville points came in garbage time long after the outcome was decided.

Seahawks reach their teams goals Sunday

September, 22, 2013
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SEATTLE -- Check every goal off the list.

The Seattle Seahawks entered Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars with some specific goals. When it ended with a 45-17 victory, the Seahawks had accomplished each task:
  • No letdown: check.
  • Fewer penalties: check.
  • No trap game against a lesser opponent: check
  • Get the passing game in gear: double check.

Despite entering the game 2-0, the offense struggled in the first half of both games with careless penalties and problems in the passing game overall.

Not this time. Russell Wilson threw for four touchdowns, including three in the first half. Backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had one touchdown throwing and one running. Together they combined for 331 yards and five touchdown passes, completing 21 of 29 throws for a 135.2 quarterback rating between them.

“I thought Russell played great,” said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “He was all over the place making great plays and throws. And I thought T-Jack played lights out. He did everything just right. He handled himself beautifully.”

Tight end Zach Miller and wide receiver Sidney Rice had two touchdowns each. Both Miller touchdowns came off play-action fakes that left him open in the end zone.

One Rice score came when it appeared Wilson threw the ball up for grabs, but that’s what Rice wanted him to do on the 23-yard play.

“I rolled out and Sidney pointed to me to throw it up,’’ Wilson said. “So I thought, ‘You know what? Here ya go.’ You have to trust your guys.”

Rice made a leaping catch in front of two Jacksonville defenders.

“I saw the ball thrown so I went to attack it,” Rice said. “We take advantage of the opportunities that come our way.”

Doug Baldwin did the same thing on his 35-yard touchdown grab down the sideline when he got a signal from Jackson.

“T-Jack came to the line and gave me a little smile,” Baldwin said. “I knew the ball was coming my way.”

Part of the improvement Sunday was the fact that the Seahawks did not stop themselves with penalties, a big problem in the first two games. Seattle had only four penalties for 24 yards.

“That’s a big move up for us,” Carroll said. “I’m glad we could make that such an emphasis this week [at practice] and see a real change.”

And there was no letdown coming off the emotional 29-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers last week.

“We talked about that early in the week,” Baldwin said. “We addressed it by saying we were not going to waste this opportunity [to be 3-0]. For us, every game is a championship opportunity. We weren’t going to let it slip away.”

The Seahawks also didn’t fall into the so-called “trap game.” Seattle was a 19-point favorite over the Jaguars. It would have been easy to look ahead to the game next week in Houston against the Texans.

“Those guys on the other sideline are an NFL team just like us,” said cornerback Brandon Browner, who played for the first time this season after being out with a hamstring injury. “We talk about never overlooking any team. We looked at them just like we did San Francisco.”

Seattle checked everything off the list and won the game they were supposed to win against an overmatched opponent. But it’s the way they did it that mattered the most to the players.

‘‘That’s the way we need to play football,” Wilson said. “We didn’t have crazy penalties and we executed when we needed to. When we do that, we’re hard to stop.”

Locker Room Buzz: Seattle Seahawks

September, 22, 2013
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SEATTLE -- Observed in the locker room after the Seattle Seahawks' 45-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

What letdown? The players had a lot of I-told-you-so looks over not having any letdown after the emotional victory over San Francisco last weekend and not falling into the so-called trap game against the lowly Jaguars. “We talked about it early in the week,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “We addressed and said we weren't going to waste this opportunity.”

Rice
Just throw it: The communication between quarterback and receiver was a factor in two Seattle touchdowns. Russell Wilson said Sidney Rice signaled for him to just put it up when it appeared Rice was well covered in the end zone, and Rice leaped and made the grab. Baldwin said quarterback Tarvaris Jackson gave him a “little smile,” letting Baldwin know he was going to lob it up down the sideline and let Baldwin make a play, which he did for a 35-yard touchdown.

Touchdowns for the twins: Tight end Zach Miller was beaming about what his two touchdown catches meant to him the day he brought twin baby daughters, Remi and Kaydence, on the field. “I got one for each of them,” Miller said. “I had them on the field before the game, so now I guess I have to bring them on the field before every game.”

Your NFC West roster fix right here

August, 13, 2013
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The Seattle Seahawks have more players drafted under Brad Childress, who never coached for the team, than were drafted under Mike Holmgren, who coached the team for nine seasons. This is Pete Carroll's team, in other words, and the chart shows to what extent.

Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Tarvaris Jackson are the Seattle players drafted under Childress, the former Minnesota Vikings coach. Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant are the current Seahawks left over from the Holmgren era.

Rosters will go through another round of changes when teams reduce from 90 to 53 players on Aug. 31. In the meantime, I've updated and made available for download my 26-column rosters for each NFC West team.


The second chart shows roster counts by position for each team.

The Arizona Cardinals have added three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen since early June, headlined by the free-agent signings of Eric Winston and John Abraham. They've dropped two at wide receiver (notably Ryan Swope), one at linebacker (O'Brien Schofield), and one at running back over the same span. Coach Bruce Arians recently indicated the team does not plan to add a running back despite injuries at the position. That suggests the team isn't worried about Rashard Mendenhall, who has missed time recently.

Three things: Seahawks-Chargers

August, 8, 2013
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Three things to watch for Thursday night in the Seattle Seahawks' 2013 exhibition opener against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium (10 p.m. ET):

1. Return specialists. The Seahawks released dynamic return man Leon Washington before they knew the recently acquired Percy Harvin would undergo season-altering hip surgery. The team is listing Will Blackmon, Jeremy Lane and Bryan Walters as its top three kickoff returners. Golden Tate is listed as the punt returner. Blackmon returned three punts for touchdowns while with Green Bay, but that was way back in 2007 and 2008. How will the Seahawks' return game fare without Washington and Harvin?

2. Backup QBs and a guy taking their handoffs. Tarvaris Jackson and Brady Quinn are competing to serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind Russell Wilson. Jackson has greater experience in the Seahawks' offensive system, having run it with Seattle and Minnesota. Jackson has greater equity in the locker room after playing through a torn pectoral muscle as Seattle's primary starter in 2011. Does that mean Quinn has to win this battle decisively to beat out Jackson? Can Quinn make this decision a difficult one? Don't stop watching after the handoff, either. Rookie running back Christine Michael is a player of interest after Seattle made him a surprise second-round choice.

3. Rookie TE Willson. Luke Willson makes his Seahawks debut as a rookie fifth-round choice and potential complement to starting tight end Zach Miller. A foot injury has prevented Miller from practicing and will keep him out of this game. Another familiar veteran at the position, Anthony McCoy, is not back after suffering a torn Achilles' tendon during offseason workouts. Willson, Sean McGrath and Cooper Helfet are among the lesser-known tight ends with an opportunity to distinguish themselves.
After judging a quarterback by the company he keeps, I've expanded the field to show additional names with recent ties to the NFC West.

The chart below ranks these QBs by most starts since 2010 with at least 15 action plays and a Total QBR score in the 90s.

For additional context and to avoid implying any similarities between emerging star Colin Kaepernick and journeyman backup Brady Quinn, I've included an additional column showing cumulative QBR figures for all starts since 2010, regardless of how many action plays (all QB plays except kneel-downs, spikes and handoffs).

The information reflects negatively on St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who has just one 90-plus game out of 42 qualifying starts and a cumulative QBR score of 42.3, well below the 50-point mark indicating average play.

Some context is in order. QBR assumes an average supporting cast. Some quarterbacks on the list have played with exceptionally weak supporting casts. Bradford has arguably played with the weakest of the group, especially when factoring for the injury problems that wiped out Bradford and the Rams in 2011 in particular, when St. Louis led the NFL in adjusted games lost.

The Rams think Bradford's production will improve significantly in 2013 and especially beyond now that the team has acquired fresh, fast talent on offense. So, while we might reasonably have expected Bradford to have provided a few more exceptional performances to this point in his career, a case can be made that he has too often found himself in survival mode.

A newly re-signed Tarvaris Jackson will compete against Brady Quinn for the No. 2 job behind Seattle Seahawks starting quarterback Russell Wilson.

The way those players performed in their most recent starts suggests the team would be better off with Jackson as the starter if Wilson became unavailable.

We could make that case by noting that Jackson posted a 7-7 record with Seattle in 2011, his most recent season as a starter, while Quinn went 1-7 with Kansas City last season. But if we wanted a breakdown more specific to the quarterbacks, we could revisit a method we used when estimating NFC West quarterback values about five weeks ago.

That method suggests Wilson's performance for the full 2012 season provided about 3.8 additional victories relative to the 2011 version of Jackson and an additional 6.5 victories relative to the 2012 version of Quinn, based upon Total QBR scores for those players.

Teams posting Total QBR scores around 50 can expect to win about half the time. That baseline allows for calculating how many added victories a quarterback provides or takes away over the course of a 16-game season and relative to another player.

In the Seattle example, we start by averaging the single-game QBR scores for Wilson last season. The result was 63.9. We then average the single-game scores for the 14 games Jackson started in 2011 (40.1) and subtract the total from 63.9. The result rounds to 23.77. We then take 23.77 percent of 16 games to determine how many victories Wilson would provide over Jackson, based upon how each played in his last season as a starter.

By this measure, Wilson added 3.8 victories over what Jackson would have provided over a 16-game schedule if he had been the Seahawks' starter instead of Wilson, and had he performed the way he did in 2011. The calculation for Quinn goes like this: Wilson's average QBR score (63.9) minus Quinn's average QBR score last season (23.0875) equals 40.8125, which taken as a percentage of 16 games equals 6.53 additional victories with Wilson.

The difference between Jackson in relation to Wilson (minus 3.8 victories) and Quinn in relation to Wilson (minus-6.5 victories) works out to 2.7 victories -- say, the difference between 8-8 and 5-11 if the team played Jackson instead of Quinn over a full season.

The differences could become even more pronounced if we considered other factors. For example, Wilson had a 78.2 average QBR score over his final nine games. He might be more apt to play near that level in the future than how he played in the first seven games of his career. Also, Jackson played much of the 2011 season with a torn pectoral muscle. Taking those things into account would change the calculations.

Note that averaging the single-game QBR scores for Wilson produced a number (63.9) that is lower than his cumulative QBR score for the season (69.6, as displayed in the first chart). We would see similar disparities if we compared a basketball player's average game-by-game shooting percentages to his cumulative percentages. Making both foul shots in one game and missing all four attempts in another would produce a 50 percent average and a 33 percent rate.

The chart below shows stats for current NFC West backup quarterbacks since 2008.

Brady Quinn could have competition for the No. 2 job behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Tarvaris Jackson, released by the Seahawks last offseason and released by the Buffalo Bills this week, is headed to Seattle with a shot at signing in the coming days, ESPN's John Clayton is reporting. The move would restore depth behind Wilson after Seattle released Josh Portis.

The Seahawks signed Quinn in part because they thought his approach to preparation would fit well with Wilson, who is known for working overtime in the film room. Jackson has outplayed Quinn in recent seasons, however, and the Bills quoted their rookie quarterback, EJ Manuel, as saying Jackson was "great in our film room" this offseason.

Jackson is a good fit as a backup in Seattle because he has extensive experience in the Seahawks' offensive system. He was also popular in the locker room during his time with the team. Jackson played with Seatle cornerback Antoine Winfield and receivers Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice when all three were with the Minnesota Vikings. Seattle's offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, was also with the Vikings then.

Seattle is in the middle of its mandatory minicamp. Signing Jackson would put him on course to begin competing for the No. 2 job when training camp opens.
Tarvaris Jackson earned teammates' respect for his toughness during one season as the Seattle Seahawks' starting quarterback.

Jackson had a good thing going with receiver Doug Baldwin in particular.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Baldwin wants Jackson back on the roster, presumably as the primary backup to Russell Wilson.

"It would be a good move to bring @7tjackson back ... my honest opinion," Baldwin tweeted Monday.

Baldwin unexpectedly led the Seahawks in receptions as an undrafted rookie in 2011, when Jackson was the starter. Baldwin even edged Larry Fitzgerald, Vernon Davis and teammate Sidney Rice for the top spot among NFC West players in yards per target that season.

The Seahawks aren't looking to revisit 2011, when they finished with a 7-9 record. They went 11-5 with Wilson as their starter last season. They already have a No. 2 quarterback in Brady Quinn, who signed in free agency this offseason.

The question is whether Jackson would provide an upgrade over Quinn. If Jackson would be an improvement on the field, would the gain justify a change? That is not necessarily a given.

The Seahawks signed Quinn in part because they thought he had an unusually high football IQ, making him a good fit with Wilson, who is similar in that department. The thinking was that Wilson and Quinn would work well together behind the scenes, an improvement from last season, when the dynamics were different because Wilson had beaten out Matt Flynn, who had expected to start after signing a $19.5 million contract.

Flynn is gone. Less than 10 months have passed since Seattle traded Jackson to Buffalo for a seventh-round choice, a pick the Seahawks subsequently shipped to Minnesota as part of the Percy Harvin trade.

Coach Pete Carroll has encouraged competition at every spot on the roster. Signing Jackson would increase the competition for the No. 2 spot behind Wilson. Jackson already knows the offense. He would have some supporters in the locker room.

It's something to think about, at least.
We've pushed back the NFC West chat one day. I'll post the link before we get going at 2 p.m. ET Friday. You can check out the full chat archive dating to 2007 right here.

My plan is to head from the chat over to the Seattle Seahawks' first rookie minicamp practice later in the day.

On a side note, here's what we were chatting about one year ago Friday: Colin Kaepernick possibly taking over for Alex Smith because of injury (happened); the likelihood of an extension for Chris Long (happened); quarterback remaining by far the biggest trouble spot in Arizona (happened); rookie Bobby Massie getting starts at right tackle (happened); and the 49ers probably finishing the 2013 season with 10 victories (they would have 11).

There was only passing reference to Russell Wilson, and even then only in the context of what his selection might signal for Tarvaris Jackson. Matt Flynn was still considered the leading option to start for the Seahawks at that time.
The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers made underwhelming quarterback acquisitions recently.

Brady Quinn to Seattle? Colt McCoy to San Francisco?

Neither player's addition drew nearly as much scrutiny as quarterback-related moves would have commanded before each team settled on long-term starters.

That is the point. Both moves say good things about how each team feels about its quarterback situation overall.

The emergence of Russell Wilson in Seattle and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco removes pressure to develop alternatives. It renders backups for those teams about as relevant as the ones St. Louis has employed since making Sam Bradford its undisputed starter in 2010.

Quinn is not the next Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson or Matt Flynn in Seattle. Those players had realistic shots at starting. Quinn does not. McCoy obviously isn't going to push Kaepernick for the starting job.

So, pending these moves, both teams could still select quarterbacks in the later rounds of the upcoming draft. There just isn't much urgency.

The chart below shows five-year stats for quarterbacks projected to be second on their teams' current depth charts.
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.
Taking a spin around the NFC West on this fifth Sunday in March:
  • Kolb to the Bills: Initial reports suggest former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb could earn as much as $13 million on a two-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. Of course, a high school student could score as much as 1,600 on the SAT. We should expect Kolb to make less than $13 million. The signing upgrades the Bills' depth at quarterback, but this could simply be a case of moving around the furniture.

    Since 2008, Kolb and former Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick both averaged 5.8 yards per drop back. Both completed just under 60 percent of their passes. Their NFL passer ratings were similar (78.9 for Kolb, 78.0 for Fitzpatrick). Fitzpatrick was higher in Total QBR, 43.7 to 34.5. Current Bills quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has gone 9-11 as a starter over that period. Kolb was 9-12. Jackson was at 5.9 yards per drop back with an 82.5 passer rating and 38.9 QBR score.

    Kolb was OK last season for the Cardinals, but I thought his 8-3 ratio of touchdowns to interceptions was misleading. His QBR scores were at a dismal 30.6 or lower in four of the five starts he made. Kolb had a passer rating higher than 84.0 just once in those five starts. He did a good job coming off the bench to beat Seattle in the opener. He was very good against Philadelphia. He threw a critical pick in the end zone to nearly blow the Miami game before recovering with a memorable touchdown pass on fourth down after Arizona's defense forced a turnover to give Kolb a shot at redemption.
  • Clemons' tweets: Mike Freeman's recent column for CBS suggested a gay NFL player could soon make public his orientation. That led the Seattle Seahawks' Chris Clemons to question the player's motives, which led to this piece from the Seattle Times' Danny O'Neil covering some of the implications. Football has long brought together men with different and sometimes conflicting worldviews, focusing them on a common cause. This issue isn't likely to change that, in my view. The focus so far has been on current NFL players revealing themselves as gay. The time will come, too, when a gay player reveals his orientation before reaching the NFL. That will provide a revealing test case for NFL teams in the draft. Would they discriminate?
  • Waiting on Flynn: Still no news on the Matt Flynn trade front. Nothing has happened to contradict reports suggesting the Seahawks would trade Flynn to the Oakland Raiders. However, there doesn't appear to be any reason for the Raiders to rush this process. There are no deadlines looming. There's not much more to talk about until we find out what Seattle is getting in return and what's happening with Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer.
  • Saffold outlook: The agent for St. Louis Rams tackle Rodger Saffold protested the team's interest in Jake Long during free agency. Rams coach Jeff Fisher revealed more recently that Saffold has not returned calls since the team signed Long to play left tackle, the position Saffold played previously. Odd. What could Saffold gain from resisting a move that made the team better on its offensive line? Saffold was back on Twitter Saturday for the first time since March 6 and appeared amused by what people were saying about him. An explanation would be welcome. Saffold, entering the final year of his rookie contract, can enhance his value through staying healthy and playing well -- regardless of where he lines up. Saffold has missed 13 games over the past two seasons after starting all 16 as a rookie in 2010.
Recent draft choices Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright have become very good young linebackers for the Seattle Seahawks.

Two linebackers the team did not want on its roster could help the team as well.

The 2011 trade sending linebacker Aaron Curry to Oakland already returned a 2012 seventh-round choice used for potential starting guard J.R. Sweezy. The deal has also armed the Seahawks with a fifth-round choice in the 2013 draft.

Seattle has used fifth-round picks for Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Korey Toomer and Mark LeGree since coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over in 2010. Chancellor has been voted to the Pro Bowl. Sherman has been voted to the Associated Press All-Pro team.

Another former Seahawks linebacker, Barrett Ruud, has returned a 2013 seventh-round choice to Seattle after never playing in a game for the Seahawks. Seattle traded Ruud to New Orleans last offseason after using a second-round choice for Wagner. Ruud wasn't likely to earn a roster spot in Seattle, but the Seahawks were able to trade him when New Orleans found itself in desperate need for help at linebacker.

Seattle has seven of its own choices in the 2013 draft, plus three acquired by trade.

In addition to the picks received for Curry and Ruud, Seattle has a 2013 seventh-rounder from Buffalo stemming from the Tarvaris Jackson trade. That pick could have upgraded to a higher round if Jackson would have played for the Bills.

Jackson became expendable to the Seahawks after the team signed Matt Flynn and drafted its eventual starter, Russell Wilson.

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