NFL: Pete Carroll goes bold with Seattle’s quarterback move
By Sam Farmer
Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The move says a lot about quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, and even more about Pete Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks on Thursday gave up a lot to San Diego to acquire Whitehurst, a Chargers third-stringer who has not attempted a regular-season pass in four NFL seasons.
Carroll must see something that others don’t, because the Seahawks paid a hefty sum to get their man. They agreed to swap positions with San Diego in the second round — an especially pricey move in a talent-rich draft — giving up their No. 40 for the Chargers’ No. 60. The Seahawks also gave San Diego their third-round pick in next year’s draft.
What’s more, the Seahawks are opening their wallet wide for Whitehurst, signing him to a two-year deal worth more than $4 million per season. That’s almost in the neighborhood of Matt Hasselbeck, their starter since 2001, who’s due to make $5.75 million this season.
So what does that say about Carroll? Well, for one, that he isn’t going to play it safe. This is his first signature move, and it’s a risky one. Whitehurst, a third-round pick from Clemson in 2006, has career totals of five touchdowns and seven interceptions — all in exhibition games — and was unable to beat out Billy Volek as backup to Philip Rivers.
The way it sounds now, Hasselbeck is the starter. But with the money the Seahawks are paying Whitehurst, that depth chart is at best wet cement.
“It’s clear to us that Matt has paid his dues,” Carroll told reporters Thursday. “And he’s done a great job in the program ... (but) we’re trying to make it as competitive as possible.
“So Charlie is coming in here to battle. He’s going to show where he fits in this whole thing. He doesn’t have a lot of playing time in the regular season, but he has logged a lot of time in the preseason.... We would not have done this if we didn’t think we were bringing in a highly competitive player.”
Carroll insists the Seahawks didn’t rush to this decision and took their time evaluating Whitehurst.
“We’ve seen every snap he’s had about three different times,” he said.
Then again, considering the number of snaps Whitehurst has had, that’s not saying a lot.
Still, there’s a chance this could be a brilliant move. There are plenty of stories of overlooked quarterbacks who took full advantage of their opportunity to play — among them Matt Cassel, who never started a game in college — and, likewise, lots of highly touted quarterbacks who never lived up to their promise.
Judging by a poll on The Seattle Times Web site, there were a lot of Seahawks fans slapping their foreheads in frustration at the trade for Whitehurst.
As of Thursday afternoon, out of 4,264 votes, 47 percent of respondents said the Seahawks gave up too much; 25 percent said Charlie who; 21 percent said they’d wait and see; and 7 percent said they liked the move.
Of course, those type of polls don’t mean much to Carroll. He’s going to make the decisions he feels he needs to make. (And make no mistake, even though he doesn’t have the general manager title, Carroll is the final word on Seahawks personnel moves.)
Carroll has always felt that he would have won more games in his last NFL go-round had he been given personnel control. In his decision to leave USC for the Seahawks, that was a non-negotiable. Now that he has it, it’s worth watching what he does with it.
He’ll make some right moves and some wrong ones.
And this transplanted surfer obviously is unafraid to make something else too.