NFL Nation: Ben Hamilton

Mike Gibson, Ben Hamilton, Chester Pitts and Tyler Polumbus started at left guard for the Seattle Seahawks last season.

No wonder the team went after Robert Gallery when the free-agent negotiating period opened Tuesday.

Gallery and Seattle agreed to terms on a three-year deal, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The contract length suggests this will be a relatively modest deal financially for Seattle, a bit of a surprise.

Gallery, 31, missed four games last season and 10 in 2009, but he's a significant upgrade at the position for Seattle. The team has struggled to find a long-term starter at left guard since losing Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota following the 2005 season.

The line has been a mess overall. Seattle started 11 combinations last season alone, but the line is taking shape. First-round draft choice James Carpenter projects as the starter at right tackle, with third-rounder John Moffitt at right guard. Max Unger will step in at center, with Gallery at left guard and 2010 first-round choice Russell Okung at left tackle.

For the first time in years, Seattle has what appears to be a coherent, sustainable and promising plan for its offensive line. Gallery's durability is the biggest concern. The Seahawks felt good about adding another veteran guard, Mike Wahle, several years ago. His injury problems prevented him from holding down the job for long, however.

Gallery's connections to new Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable were important in getting this deal done. Both were together in Oakland for years. Gallery let it be known he wanted to leave Oakland and stay with Cable. Cable's presence means the Seahawks know what they're getting from an injury and production standpoint.
The NFL released its compensatory draft choices for 2011, allowing us to set the order for selection.

I've put together my initial draft-order file, to be updated and supplemented. Download it here.

A few quick notes:
  • The league forced Kansas City and Detroit to swap fifth-round picks, with the Lions losing a seventh-rounder, as part of a tampering case. I don't know if the appeals process is complete.
  • The San Francisco 49ers have a league-high 12 choices.
  • Compensatory picks cannot be traded.
  • Seattle appeared to be in line for a fourth-round compensatory choice, but the signing of guard Ben Hamilton appears to have offset the equation.

I'm going to get working on an updated file.
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.

Logan Mankins and the NFC West wish list

February, 14, 2011
Signing Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins away from New England has gone from unlikely to an even longer shot after the Patriots named Mankins their franchise player.

The NFL and NFL Players Association cannot agree upon whether the franchise tag even exists this offseason, but if it does, the tag will effectively take Mankins off the market.

It's unclear whether any NFC West team would make a strong push for Mankins given the expected price tag, but the thought had appeal for Seattle Seahawks fans still stinging over Steve Hutchinson's departure as a transition player following the 2005 season.

Floyd Womack, Chris Spencer, Rob Sims, Mike Wahle, Mansfield Wrotto, Steve Vallos, Mike Gibson, Ben Hamilton, Chester Pitts and Tyler Polumbus have started at left guard for Seattle since Hutchinson got away. Trading away Sims last offseason proved unfortunate once Alex Gibbs retired as line coach and Seattle stopped favoring smaller guards.
Alex Gibbs was supposed to transform the Seattle Seahawks' offensive line.

Instead, the veteran line coach retired abruptly right before the 2010 regular season, leading eventually to Tom Cable's hiring as a replacement.

Gibbs was worn out, coach Pete Carroll said, and it would not have been the first time. Gibbs' hard-charging ways had taken a toll on him in past jobs.

Left unsaid, however, was to what degree clashes behind the scenes precipitated Gibbs' retirement. Gibbs wanted specific types of players to run his scheme a very specific way. He wasn't the type to defer. It was natural to wonder to what degree personal and/or philosophical differences came into play.

Former Seahawks guard Ben Hamilton has offered his opinion via Twitter, citing "personnel disputes and butting heads" as reasons for Gibbs' abrupt departure. Hamilton played for Gibbs previously in Denver. Gibbs was the reason he signed with Seattle. Hamilton would probably have a good feel.

The reasoning behind Gibbs' departure isn't a pressing issue at this point, but Hamilton's comments provide some direction.

Midseason Stock Watch: Seahawks

November, 10, 2010
Power Rankings: Preseason 25. This week: 24.

[+] EnlargeLeon Washington
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireLeon Washington has done his part to give the offense good starting field position.
2010 schedule/results

Where they stand: The Seahawks are tied with St. Louis atop the NFC West with a 4-4 record. The Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker pending their rematch in Week 17. Seattle was an ascending team until injuries wiped out five starters on the offensive and defensive lines, plus quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and a few others. The Seahawks still have a chance to steady themselves once Hasselbeck and left tackle Russell Okung return. Both could be back against Arizona this week. But the defense will have a hard time recapturing top form against the run without defensive end Red Bryant (injured reserve) and nose tackle Colin Cole (out indefinitely with a high-ankle sprain). The Seahawks are on shaky ground after getting outscored 74-10 over their past two games.

Falling: The offensive line was supposed to develop a strong identity under highly regarded coach Alex Gibbs. It never happened. Gibbs quit shortly before the season. By then, the Seahawks had already begun remaking their line with the smaller guards Gibbs preferred. Trading away incumbent starter Rob Sims seemed like a mistake once Gibbs departed and the Seahawks sought more size at the position. Losing starting right guard Max Unger in the opener and starting left guard Ben Hamilton more recently exacerbated the problem. Take away Okung and the line has struggled enough to prevent the offense from functioning. The Seahawks are having trouble sustaining drives and clearing holes for their running backs. That puts more pressure on the defense, which has issues of its own.

Rising: General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have done a good job patching holes with castoffs. Adding first-round choices Mike Williams (2005, Detroit Lions) and Marshawn Lynch (2007, Buffalo Bills) has given Seattle two talented building blocks on offense. Williams had 21 receptions over a two-game period before falling off over the past couple of games. Lynch has found very little room to run, but his hard-charging style has impressed. The 6-yard run Lynch had against the New York Giants -- one in which he disappeared into a pile, moved the pile and then emerged from the other side -- summed up what Seattle is getting from him. Leon Washington, acquired in a low-cost trade on draft day, leads the NFL in kickoff-return average. Chris Clemons, another acquisition by trade, has produced as a pass-rusher. Raheem Brock, Brandon Stokley, Kentwan Balmer and Michael Robinson have also added value.

Midseason MVP: Washington gets my vote for his consistently game-changing production in the return game. He's the most dynamic player on the team and a consistent source of favorable field position. Clemons and strong safety Lawyer Milloy also deserve consideration. Both players have brought an edge to the defense at times.

Outlook: Getting Okung back into the lineup and developing continuity on the offensive line stands as the top priority heading into the second half of the season. The game against Chicago in Week 6 proved the Seahawks had a good thing going up front when Okung was in the lineup. It's just tough to bank on anything coming together from an injury standpoint amid so much bad news on that front. The defensive line might be in worse shape, a significant concern with Reggie Bush, Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Frank Gore, Michael Turner, LeGarrette Blount and Steven Jackson still on the schedule. Seattle can get to 8-8 by winning its remaining home games, however. That's more than the Rams or San Francisco 49ers can say.

Rapid Reaction: Raiders 33, Seahawks 3

October, 31, 2010
What it means: Seattle needs to get healthier to bounce back from this defeat in the short term. The Seahawks have fared well in patching their roster, but their depth isn't good enough to overcome this many injuries. They played all or some of their game Sunday without starting left tackle Russell Okung, second-team left tackle Tyler Polumbus, No. 1 receiver Mike Williams, starting right cornerback Kelly Jennings, second-team right corner Walter Thurmond, starting defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, starting nose tackle Colin Cole and starting defensive end Red Bryant. Starting left guard Ben Hamilton left the game after getting poked in the eye, but his replacement, Chester Pitts, might have played anyway. Pitts wound up playing left tackle after Polumbus departed.

NFC West race: The Seahawks fell to 4-3. The Arizona Cardinals were in danger of falling to 3-4 as they trailed the Tampa Bay Bucs in the final minutes. St. Louis pulled close at 4-4. Even the San Francisco 49ers (2-6) gained ground.

What I liked: Leon Washington provided a spark on punt returns. Washington's role on offense has disappeared since the team acquired Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo. Washington's big-play ability does have value, however. His 43-yard punt return put the offense in prime position in the first half. Washington also had 45- and 37-yard kickoff returns.

What I didn't like: Seattle suffered some unsightly miscues on defense, resulting in big plays for the Raiders. Free safety Earl Thomas went for the pick, helping the Raiders score one long touchdown. Strong safety Lawyer Milloy and linebacker David Hawthorne collided on another Raiders touchdown. The offense suffered too many penalties, putting Seattle in unfavorable down-and-distances. On special teams, kicker Olindo Mare missed two field goal tries after previously making 30 in a row. This defeat was a team effort.

Trending: Seattle's run defense faltered some against Arizona last week. The Raiders had their way running the ball. Darren McFadden had more than 100 yards in the first three quarters. The Raiders also burned the Seahawks with misdirection plays, including when receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey busted a 30-yard run on a reverse. Losing Bryant hurt against the run. Seattle had owned the NFL's second-ranked run defense, but that ranking will surely fall. And with the New York Giants' Ahmad Bradshaw visiting Seattle in Week 9, the trend could continue.

What's next: The Seahawks face the Giants at home in Week 9, followed by trips to Arizona and New Orleans.

Initial thoughts on Russell Okung's day

October, 18, 2010
CHICAGO -- Several have asked how Seattle Seahawks rookie left tackle Russell Okung fared against the Chicago Bears during his first full regular-season NFL game.

I've looked at some of the game again here at O'Hare Airport. Okung appeared comfortable and mostly effective. He's obviously strong and does play with attitude.

Brian Urlacher, the Bears' Pro Bowl middle linebacker, didn't seem to like the way Okung engaged him at the 6-yard line and drove him into the end zone, continuing to push after Justin Forsett crossed the goal line for a 9-yard touchdown run up the gut.

This was a third-and-goal situation from the 9, so the Bears were expecting pass. The surprise factor and Okung's aggressiveness on the play created the opening Forsett needed.

"He played a very good football game," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters Monday.

Carroll indicated Okung "got tossed around a little bit early" before settling in and playing well. I didn't really notice anyone tossing around Okung that much, but I'll watch the game more carefully after returning home from Chicago.

The Seahawks allowed no sacks. They used tight ends to help block at times. They had quarterback Matt Hasselbeck run bootlegs away from potential trouble. They mixed up their play calling and established a running game. Those factors helped neutralize the Bears' pass-rush.

There was good blocking, too.

"It should be a feeling like, 'You know, he’ s been against the best guy in the league and he can handle himself,' " Carroll said. "I don’ t think Russell ever doubted that, but he really wouldn’t know until he did it. And he had enough opportunities where he was truly one-on-one, so he knows that he can do that."

Seattle's line seemed to play well together, which had to be a challenge against Peppers on the road.

On one play, Peppers stunted to the inside, away from Okung. Left guard Ben Hamilton was waiting and ready to make the block. That play showed why teams often value veteran guards. I've thought the San Francisco 49ers would be better off with a veteran right guard to help rookie right tackle Anthony Davis.

Offensive linemen add substance to game

October, 14, 2010
Thoughts after Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told his offensive linemen to end their media boycott:

Offensive linemen generally do not seek the spotlight, and vice versa, but their perspectives enrich our understanding of the game.

Anyone covering the St. Louis Rams can count on veterans Jason Brown, Adam Goldberg and Jacob Bell for insights on quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Steven Jackson or just about anything else.

Without Brown, for instance, we never would have known the story about Bradford's memorable first practice of training camp. Without Bell, we might not have known how Bradford compared to Vince Young in on-field demeanor. Goldberg can usually be counted upon for a grasp of the big picture.

Several years ago, when the Seattle Seahawks fielded the NFL's best line, no media session would have been complete without a stop at center Robbie Tobeck's locker. Perennial Pro Bowlers Steve Hutchinson and Walter Jones usually weren't as expansive, but anything coming from two of the all-time greats carried weight.

I remember speaking with Hutchinson after the 2001 season for a story about an emerging quarterback he knew from their days at the University of Michigan. Few gave New England's Tom Brady much of a chance against the Rams in the Super Bowl that year. Hutchinson knew better.

"My first year starting was '97 and I'd played with Brian Griese, and Tom really didn’t have much playing experience," Hutchinson said. "From the moment he got in the huddle (in '98), it was like he’d been there four years. He takes control of the huddle, he's always in control, a great leader -- one of the best on-field leaders I've been around."

OK, I thought. Maybe this Brady guy is better than people think. But let's have some examples.

Hutchinson recounted Brady's gritty performance against Ohio State during the 1999 season. Nothing was going right for Michigan. The Buckeyes built a lead and were coming after Brady with blitzes.

"At some point in the game, Tom comes back to huddle and his mouth is just pouring blood and it didn’t even phase him," Hutchinson said. "He just called the play. 'Damn, this kid is a cool kid from California. Some little surfer kid from California is playing with big boys and holding his own.' Just there, I respected him. Not only is he cool, but he's tough, too. A lot of guys are either/or. He's got both."

These and other stories came to mind Thursday when Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told his media-boycotting offensive linemen they would have to follow NFL rules designed to promote public access to its product. There was never any doubt how this one would end. The only question was whether Carroll would have to intervene. When he did, the issue largely went away.

Most of the Seahawks' linemen seemed conflicted on the matter. Their former line coach, Alex Gibbs, had encouraged their silence in developing camaraderie and an us-against-the-world mentality. Players naturally wanted to please their coach.

When Gibbs quit before the season, two of his longtime understudies, Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts, enforced the old code. Both reportedly conveyed their displeasure Thursday while the Seahawks made available center Chris Spencer and tackle Sean Locklear for their first interviews of the season. Hamilton declined to answer questions. Pitts kept his distance.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Pitts and Hamilton rank first and second, respectively, for the most holding calls against NFL offensive linemen since the 2002 season.

Pitts has 32. Hamilton has 29.

Hutchinson has five.

Following the rules is tougher for some than for others.

'Microfracture' key word on Chester Pitts

September, 30, 2010
The Seattle Seahawks were excited about working veteran guard Chester Pitts into their offensive line this season.

"Chester should be ready to go here," coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday. "This has been a few weeks of him getting a lot of practice reps."

The Seahawks cut Pitts on Thursday because his surgically repaired knee was not keeping up as he came closer to a potential return. He suffered the injury early last season while with Houston. Pitts, like former Seahawks tackle Walter Jones, had undergone microfracture knee surgery, a procedure of last resort for athletes without sufficient cartilage in the joint.

Carroll never gave the impression Pitts was struggling in his rehabilitation. But the word "microfracture" lets us know an athlete will have a hard time coming back. Jones never played again after his microfracture procedure.

Seattle signed recently released guard Mike Gibson to its practice squad. The team also recently signed offensive linemen Allen Barbre and Breno Giacomini to its 53-man roster.

Removing Pitts from the equation diminishes the potential for Seattle's line. Pairing him with rookie first-round choice Russell Okung on the left side would have been a best-case scenario for the team. Ben Hamilton has been the starting left guard, but he's 33 and more of a stopgap than long-term solution.

The move to release Pitts does not prevent Pitts from continuing his rehab. It does not prevent the Seahawks from re-signing him down the line. Carroll will presumably explain the situation in the near future.

Update: That could indeed happen.

Rams dodge Alex Barron's 22nd holding call

September, 13, 2010
The St. Louis Rams sacrificed depth on their offensive line when parting with Alex Barron, who had started for them at tackle since 2005.

That sacrifice resembled addition by subtraction when Barron's holding penalty Sunday negated the Dallas Cowboys' winning touchdown pass as time expired. This was the third holding call of the game against Barron and the 22nd of Barron's career. The Rams traded Barron to the Cowboys for linebacker Bobby Carpenter, a player St. Louis released.

Barron had run his course in St. Louis, becoming known for penalties and inconsistent play. As the chart shows, Barron ranks third among NFL players in offensive holding penalties since entering the league as a first-round choice in 2005, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Rams' offensive linemen were not flagged for holding in Week 1.

Definitive look at NFC West turnover

September, 8, 2010
Roster turnover is a leading topic for discussion in Seattle following the release of T.J. Houshmandzadeh in particular.

I've addressed the subject in depth across the division -- first May 26 and again July 30 -- and it's worth another look now that teams have reduced to 53 players for the regular season.

This time, I'm going to break down the changes by position, listing players no longer on the active roster at each main position group (with new players in parenthesis). Departures outnumber replacements because some players finished last season on injured reserve, meaning they were not part of the 53-man roster.

Some players no longer on the active roster remain with the team (they could be suspended, deemed physically unable to perform or part of the practice squad).

St. Louis Rams (34 off roster)

Defensive back: Eric Bassey, Quincy Butler, Danny Gorrer, Clinton Hart, Cordelius Parks, David Roach, Jonathan Wade (added Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Darian Stewart)

Defensive line: Victor Adeyanju, Adam Carriker, Leger Douzable, Leonard Little, LaJuan Ramsey, James Wyche (added Jermelle Cudjo, Fred Robbins, George Selvie, Eugene Sims)

Linebacker: K.C. Asiodu, Paris Lenon (added Na'il Diggs, Josh Hull)

Offensive line: Roger Allen, Alex Barron, Ryan McKee, Mark Setterstrom, Phillip Trautwein, Eric Young (added Renardo Foster, Hank Fraley, Rodger Saffold)

Quarterback: Kyle Boller, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, Mike Reilly (added Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Thaddeus Lewis)

Running back: Samkon Gado, Chris Ogbonnaya (added Keith Toston)

Special teams: Ryan Neill

Tight end: Randy McMichael (added Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun)

Wide receiver: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Brooks Foster, Jordan Kent, Ruvell Martin (added Mark Clayton, Dominique Curry, Mardy Gilyard)

Seattle Seahawks (33 off roster)

Defensive back: Jamar Adams, Deon Grant, Ken Lucas, Josh Wilson (added Kam Chancellor, Kennard Cox, Nate Ness, Earl Thomas, Walter Thurmond)

Defensive line: Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding, Nick Reed, Darryl Tapp, Craig Terrill (added Kentwan Balmer, Raheem Brock, Chris Clemons, Dexter Davis, Junior Siavii, E.J. Wilson)

Linebacker: Leroy Hill, Lance Laury, D.D. Lewis (added Matt McCoy; note that Hill is suspended for the first regular-season game)

Offensive line: Trevor Canfield, Brandon Frye, Walter Jones, Damion McIntosh, Rob Sims, Steve Vallos, Ray Willis, Mansfield Wrotto (added Stacy Andrews, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung, Chester Pitts, Tyler Polumbus)

Quarterback: Mike Teel, Seneca Wallace (added Charlie Whitehurst)

Running back: Justin Griffith, Louis Rankin, Tyler Roehl, Owen Schmitt (added Quinton Ganther, Michael Robinson, Leon Washington)

Special teams: Kevin Houser, Jeff Robinson (added Clint Gresham)

Tight end: John Owens (added Chris Baker, Anthony McCoy)

Wide receiver: Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh (added Golden Tate, Mike Williams)

Arizona Cardinals (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Ralph Brown, Bryant McFadden, Antrel Rolle (added A.J. Jefferson, Trumaine McBride, Brandon McDonald, Kerry Rhodes)

Defensive line: Jason Banks (added Dan Williams)

Linebacker: Monty Beisel, Bertrand Berry, Cody Brown, Karlos Dansby, Gerald Hayes, Chike Okeafor, Pago Togafau (added Paris Lenon, Cyril Obiozor, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington; Hayes can return from the physically unable to perform list after six games)

Offensive line: Mike Gandy, Herman Johnson, Reggie Wells (added Alan Faneca, Rex Hadnot)

Quarterback: Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Kurt Warner (added Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton)

Running back: Justin Green, Dan Kreider (added Jerome Johnson)

Special teams: Neil Rackers (added Jay Feely)

Tight end: Anthony Becht (added Jim Dray)

Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin, Sean Morey, Jerheme Urban (added Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams)

San Francisco 49ers (24 off roster)

Defensive backs: Dre' Bly, Walt Harris, Marcus Hudson, Mark Roman (added Phillip Adams, Tramaine Brock, William James, Taylor Mays)

Defensive line: Kentwan Balmer, Derek Walker

Linebacker: Scott McKillop, Jeff Ulbrich, Matt Wilhelm (added NaVorro Bowman, Travis LaBoy)

Offensive line: Tony Pashos, Chris Patrick, Cody Wallace (added Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati)

Quarterback: Nate Davis, Shaun Hill (added David Carr, Troy Smith)

Running back: Thomas Clayton, Glen Coffee, Brit Miller, Michael Robinson (added Anthony Dixon, Brian Westbrook)

Special teams: Shane Andrus, Ricky Schmitt

Wide receiver: Arnaz Battle, Isaac Bruce, Jason Hill, Brandon Jones (added Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, Dominique Zeigler)

The first chart shows how many players are back -- at least for now -- from Week 17 rosters and injured reserve lists. Seattle has the fewest number back with 26.

The second chart shows how many players each team has shed since Week 17 last season. This counts players who were on injured reserve. Teams with lots of players on injured reserve had more players to lose.

Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Leonard Little, Jerheme Urban, Owen Schmitt, Josh Wilson, William James, Justin Green, Raheem Brock, Derek Anderson, Walt Harris, Tony Pashos, Darryl Tapp, Sam Bradford, Mark Roman, Dan Kreider, David Carr, Ralph Brown, Lawrence Jackson, Isaac Bruce, Charlie Whitehurst, Chris Clemons, Shaun HIll, Junior Siavii, Leroy Hill, Kevin Dockery, Matt Leinart, Chike Okeafor, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Rex Hadnot, Brian Westbrook, Bertrand Berry, Dominique Zeigler, Eric Bassey, Eric Young, D.D. Lewis, Brandon McDonald, Nate Burleson, Alex Barron, Ryan Neill, Samkon Gado, Kyle Boller, Brit Miller, Patrick Kerney, Clinton Hart, Quincy Butler, Michael Robinson, Arnaz Battle, Ray Willis, Leger Douzable, Jerome Johnson, Trumaine McBride, Glen Coffee, Brooks Foster, Monty Beisel, Renardo Foster, Mansfield Wrotto, Shane Andrus, Donnie Avery, Karlos Dansby, Alex Boone, Marcus Hudson, Leon Washington, Troy Smith, Adam Carriker, Cody Brown, Kurt Warner, Cordelius Parks, Jeff Ulbrich, Chris Ogbonnaya, Neil Rackers, Pago Togafau, Scott McKillop, Randy McMichael, Kentwan Balmer, Lance Laury, Sean Morey, Mike Gandy, Mike Reilly, Brian St. Pierre, Ruvell Martin, Mark Clayton, Ben Hamilton, Anquan Boldin, Marc Bulger, Nate Davis, Chester Pitts, Cory Redding, Antrel Rolle, Matt McCoy, Brandon Jones, Alan Faneca, Chris Baker, Anthony Davis, Keenan Burton, Hank Fraley, Joey Porter, David Roach, Phillip Trautwein, Tyler Roehl, Jason Hill, Taylor Mays, Mark Setterstrom, Travis LaBoy, A.J. Feeley, Brandon Frye, Craig Terrill, Keith Null, Cody Wallace, K.C. Asiodu, Jordan Kent, Kyle Williams, Quinton Ganther, Stacy Andrews, James Wyche, Reggie Wells, Victor Adeyanju, Jonathan Wade, Seneca Wallace, Thomas Clayton, Paris Lenon, Deon Grant, Kerry Rhodes, Fred Robbins, John Owens, Bryant McFadden, Matt Wilhelm, Steve Vallos, Gerald Hayes, Jeff Robinson, Herman Johnson, Walter Jones, Mike Williams, Justin Griffith, Jason Banks, Jamar Adams, Anthony Becht, Na\'il Diggs, Damion McIntosh, Tyler Polumbus, Derek Walker, Louis Rankin, Evan Dietrich-Smith, Cyril Obiozor, Mike Iupati, Kevin Houser, Dan Williams, Russell Okung, Golden Tate, Anthony Dixon, Anthony McCoy, Mardy Gilyard, Earl Thomas, A.J. Jefferson, Kennard Cox, Andre Roberts, Walter Thurmond, Rodger Saffold, George Selvie, Daryl Washington, Jerome Murphy, Navorro Bowman, E.J. Wilson, Mike Hoomanawanui, John Skelton, Nate Byham, Eugene Sims, Jermelle Cudjo, Ricky Schmitt, Dominique Curry, Fendi Onobun, Kam Chancellor, Dexter Davis, Phillip Adams, Stephen Williams, Thaddeus Lewis, Chris Patrick, Clint Gresham, Danny Gorrer, Darian Stewart, Keith Toston, LaJuan Ramsey, Roger III Allen, Ryan McKee, Ted Jr. Ginn, Tramaine Brock, Trevor Canfield

Thoughts following Alex Gibbs' abrupt resignation as the offensive line coach of the Seattle Seahawks eight days before the regular-season opener:
  • Gibbs cited burnout. He's 69, extremely intense and has burned out before. This is a plausible explanation.
  • I've seen no evidence a personnel dispute precipitated this resignation. The Seahawks' decision to trade for Philadelphia Eagles guard Stacy Andrews seemed curious at first because Andrews is much bigger than the typical Gibbs guard. But the acquisition makes more sense now that we know Seattle plans to play Andrews at tackle. The Seahawks placed backup right tackle Ray Willis on injured reserve Saturday. They needed a tackle.
  • This is no time to be looking for an offensive line coach. Art Valero served as Gibbs' assistant after coming to Seattle from the St. Louis Rams this offseason. Valero has coached mostly running backs and tight ends since making his NFL debut in 2002. He played offensive line at Boise State and has coached the position extensively at the college level, but Gibbs was an icon among all-time NFL line coaches. Replacing him will not be easy. I would expect the Seahawks to look outside the organization for a potential long-term replacement.
  • Gibbs stepping down does not come as a shock to those who have followed his career. The timing was a surprise. I figured Gibbs would last at least a season or two. But he's known for pouring everything he has into the job, at the expense of balance in his life.
  • The Seahawks should wince in Week 1 when they look across the field to see their former line coach, Mike Solari, manning that job for the San Francisco 49ers. Seattle tried to retain Solari as tight ends coach, but he declined the demotion and quickly landed in San Francisco, where he was already familiar with 49ers coordinator Jimmy Raye. Former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan was one of Solari's biggest advocates in San Francisco, but he now works for the Seahawks.
  • Did I mention the horrendous timing of this change for Seattle? It might be more important for Seattle to keep around players familiar with Gibbs' scheme. Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts come to mind (although Andrews' arrival could precipitate the departure of another lineman).
  • The impact of Gibbs' resignation on the Seahawks is only part of the story. Gibbs' welfare is also important. At this point, it appears as though he gave all he could.

What a day in the NFC West, huh?

Hiring Alex Gibbs costs Seahawks dearly

September, 4, 2010
One question following the Seattle Seahawks' hiring of offensive line coach Alex Gibbs was whether the San Francisco 49ers would come out ahead long term.

The decision to hire Gibbs freed incumbent Seattle line coach Mike Solari to join the 49ers. Gibbs had the higher profile, but he was also much older and more volatile, raising questions about how long he might stick around in Seattle.

No one figured Gibbs would quit before the regular-season opener, however. ESPN'S Adam Schefter says that's the case, leaving Seattle with assistant line coach Art Valero in charge with eight days remaining until the regular-season opener. The Seahawks have confirmed Gibbs' resignation.

Why would this happen?

The early word is that the hard-charging Gibbs has burned out, which wouldn't be the first time. Gibbs was known as a strong advocate for guard Ben Hamilton, one of his former players in Denver, and it wasn't clear if Hamilton was going to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. It's natural to wonder if Gibbs resigned in protest of personnel moves, but I have no indication that was the case. But assistant coaches regularly disagree with the choices his team makes. They don't resign.

Gibbs' departure leaves the Seahawks in a tough spot. Valero joined the Seahawks from the St. Louis Rams only this season. He hasn't worked for Gibbs long enough to step in seamlessly.

The Seahawks did try to keep Solari onboard as insurance by offering him a job coaching tight ends, but Solari declined the switch. The 49ers hired Solari quickly after allowing Chris Foerster out of his contract for a chance to join the Washington Redskins.

Gibbs could always decide to come back. Until then, however, the Gibbs-for-Solari tradeoff is looking like a bad one for Seattle.

Update: The Seahawks acquired guard Stacy Andrews from the Philadelphia Eagles. As noted, Andrews weighs 342 pounds, making him an odd fit for Gibbs' zone blocking scheme, which favors much smaller guards. With Gibbs resigning from the Seahawks on Saturday, it's fair to ask whether personnel disagreements played any role in the abrupt departure. The Seahawks were withholding their list of cuts pending league approval on the Andrew trade. But if Andrews is on the team at the expense of Gibbs' hand-picked guard, Hamilton, it'll be tougher to believe that Gibbs walked away purely because he burned out.

Second update: The Seahawks apparently plan to use Andrews at tackle, which would diminish the Gibbs-got-mad angle.
Initial reports suggested Russell Okung's ankle injury wasn't the more serious "high" variety, but we're talking about the hard-luck Seattle Seahawks, so of course it ended up being just that.

Injuries seem to wind up being worse than anticipated for Seattle. That was the case with Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck in past seasons, and it was the case on a lesser scale Tuesday with Okung and second-year pass-rusher Nick Reed. Reed, seen limping toward the locker room after the Seahawks' game Saturday, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery. Linebacker David Hawthorne, scheduled to start the opener while Leroy Hill serves a suspension, is also hurting and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam for an injury the team did not disclose.

Okung's high sprain wasn't a particularly severe one, coach Pete Carroll noted, but it still wasn't clear whether the Seahawks would have their first-round draft choice and starting left tackle for the regular-season opener. High sprains are more serious than typical ones.

"When you asked the other night, I was hoping it wasn't (a high sprain), but it is, so we'll see how it works out," Carroll said Tuesday.

The Seahawks drafted Okung because they badly needed a front-line left tackle to protect Hasselbeck and the team's other quarterbacks. While two-plus weeks remain until the regular season, the team faces one of the NFL's best defensive fronts when visiting the Minnesota Vikings in its next exhibition game. Pro Bowl pass-rusher Jared Allen will be working against Okung's replacement, Mansfield Wrotto, when Hasselbeck is in the game.

Okung was extremely durable in college, making his injury after less than five quarters of NFL action all the more confounding. Seattle's run of bad luck with injuries has become a tiresome topic in recent seasons -- it's not the only reason the team has struggled, obviously -- but with Okung and backup right tackle Ray Willis out, and with veteran Chester Pitts trying to bounce back from a procedure similar to the one that ended Jones' career, tackle depth is a concern.

"With Ray (Willis) down, too, it’s about as bad as it could have hit at that spot," Carroll said.

It can get much worse, actually, as the Seahawks found out last season when they replaced Jone with Sean Locklear, Brandon Frye, Damion McIntosh and Kyle Williams.

Carroll said he was "going to hold out hope" that Okung would be ready for the regular-season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, Mike Gibson will replace Ben Hamilton at left guard against the Vikings. He could stay there, I think, based on what we've seen from both players to this point.



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