NFL: Seahawks deal QB Wallace to Browns
By Danny O’Neil
The Seattle Times
SEATTLE — Seneca Wallace received a fresh start from a familiar face on Monday when Cleveland acquired the Seattle Seahawks’ backup quarterback in a trade.
Mike Holmgren, the Browns president, received a quarterback familiar with his offensive system, having coached Wallace for six seasons in Seattle.
Seattle settled for an undisclosed choice in the latter half of the 2011 draft, and provided another reason to suspect the Seahawks will be looking for a quarterback early in next month’s draft.
As a Seahawk, Wallace will best be remembered for the 28-yard pass he caught at Qwest Field early in the NFC Championship Game four years ago. As a Brown, Wallace will have the chance to be part of a rebuilding process under Holmgren, the coach who oversaw his development with the Seahawks.
“This will give Seneca a chance for a fresh start,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said in a statement released by the team. “The Browns front office’s familiarity with his abilities will give him an opportunity to compete for playing time. We wish him nothing but the best.”
Wallace played seven seasons with Seattle, serving as Matt Hasselbeck’s backup the previous five. His role with the Seahawks was a question mark because of the team’s need to find a quarterback of the future. Starter Matt Hasselbeck is entering the final year of his contract, and while he will remain the starter in 2010, many in the NFL expect the Seahawks to draft a quarterback with one of the three choices they hold in the first two rounds.
If Seattle were to choose a quarterback that high, that would have left Wallace competing with Mike Teel to be the third quarterback on the roster. Teel was Seattle’s sixth-round pick last season, and while he played better than expected in exhibition games as a rookie, whether he will develop into a capable starter remains a question.
Wallace was established as an adequate backup, filling in for Hasselbeck in three of the previous four seasons. In 2006, Seattle went 2-2 with Wallace as a starter after Hasselbeck suffered a knee injury. In 2008, Wallace led the Seahawks to a comeback victory on the road at St. Louis and had a streak of 184 consecutive passes without being intercepted.
Wallace’s performance declined last year under a new offensive system. The playbook will change again after Seattle hired coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates. Instead of waiting to see where Wallace might fit in this new scheme, if at all, Seattle will take a later-round pick in 2011 from the Browns and give Wallace an opportunity in Cleveland’s wide-open quarterback race.
Currently, the Browns have Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn under contract, though Anderson has a roster bonus due later this month and might not remain on the team.
Wallace’s athleticism made his potential to contribute at other positions a fertile topic for training-camp speculation. Could he return punts or perhaps catch passes? Last season, Wallace was used as a wildcat quarterback or lined up at wide receiver.
For all that speculation, Wallace has four regular-season receptions in his career and had one punt return, which he fair-caught.
In Cleveland, he goes to a franchise run by the man who believed in him as a quarterback above all else. Holmgren and Seattle’s coaches first worked with Wallace at the Senior Bowl in 2003 when Wallace was coming out of Iowa State, and several NFL executives said Wallace would be better off playing another position in the NFL.
But Holmgren believed in his ability as a quarterback. That’s why Seattle drafted him in the fourth round in 2003, and it’s the reason Cleveland traded for Wallace.