The Seattle Seahawks begin their voluntary, rookie minicamp today with a 1:15 p.m. practice. They’ll go twice on Saturday and finish the weekend off with a final practice on Sunday. None of the practices are open to the public, but we will have regular reports on all of them.
With the 80-man roster pretty much filled, it’s hard not to tip your cap to Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell for the job he did during this 4-month period.
Ruskell appears to have filled all of the team’s needs and minimized the damage by not losing key players in free agency.
Here’s a quick run down.
Fixing a porous defense: Ruskell addressed a defense that ranked 30th overall last season by adding bulk up front in picking up free agent, defensive tackle Colin Cole and trading for versatile defensive lineman Cory Redding. He lost Pro Bowler Julian Peterson in the Detroit trade, but Seattle got younger at the position and brought in a talented player in drafting Aaron Curry.
He franchised linebacker Leroy Hill, then rescinded the tag after drafting Curry to speed up negotiations, risking losing Hill in the process, but ends up inking a six-year, $38 million deal with Hill six days later. With the cap flexibility Ruskell addresses the need for a bigger cornerback by signing Carolina Panther free agent Ken Lucas to a one-year, $2.3 million deal.
Jumpstarting an anemic offense: Seattle’s offense was just as awful, finishing 28th overall in the NFL an averaging just 18.4 points a contest. The biggest signing for the Seahawks was the free agent acquisition of former Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which added stability to a receiving unit wrecked by injuries last season.
Seattle also provided an answer should offensive tackle Walter Jones not come back healthy from offeason knee surgery by re-signing Ray Willis to a two-year deal. Ruskell brought in blocking tight end John Owens to provide an extra body for the zone blocking scheme, along with adding fullback Justin Griffith, who played for offensive coordinator Greg Knapp in Atlanta and Oakland and knows the offensive scheme.
Through the draft, Seattle added speed at receiver with Penn State’s Deon Butler, and added depth and a versatile lineman to replace the departed Floyd "Pork Chop" Womack’s role with Oregon’s Max Unger in the second round.
Bonus pick: And Seattle also got a first-round draft pick for 2010 in case they should want to pursue a franchise quarterback to groom for the eventual replacement of Matt Hasselbeck by trading their second round pick this year for Denver’s first round pick next season. The Seahawks essentially gave up third and fourth round picks this year for a first round pick next season.
The Seahawks lost Womack, Maurice Morris, Rocky Bernard, Will Heller, Howard Green, Bobby Engram, Leonard Weaver through free agency and Peterson through trade, but Ruskell did a nice job of plugging up the holes and adding depth over the entire roster.
It would appear that Ruskell’s job is done for now, and it’s now Mora’s job to mold the roster into shape and get them ready for the upcoming season.
Seattlepi.com’s Greg Johns gives Ruskell an "A" for his offseason moves. How do you think Ruskell rates? Let me know in the comments section.
NFL.com follows Curry through the draft process, including his arrival in Seattle.
NFL.com also hands out grades for the NFC West.
ESPN’s Mike Sando says the last time Ruskell gambled like he did with the Hill situation, he lost Steve Hutchinson to Minnesota.
Michael Seffes of Seahawks Addicts provides a Mora interview from 710 ESPN radio, quoting Mora talking about how the linebackers will be used. We talked about this earlier. Hill will stay at weakside, outside linebacker and Curry will play strongside, outside linebacker and line up over the tight end. The Seahawks hope to keep the linebackers clean and allow them to run to the ball with improved defensive line play up front.
John Morgan at Field Gulls says the importance of maximizing Hill’s value is getting the most out of him as a blitzing linebacker.
Curry does not make Don Banks of Sports Illustrated’s list of rookies who will make the most impact in 2010.