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Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Seahawks played it smart with Palmer

So Carson Palmer was available after all. And as we've all seen in the first third of the season, Matt Hasselbeck is anything but over the hill.
But does that mean the Seahawks made the wrong decision at quarterback this year? Hardly.
On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Bengals, who had long maintained that they would not trade former No. 1 pick Palmer, pulled the trigger on a move to send the disgruntled quarterback to the Oakland Raiders. And what, you ask, does this have to do with the Seahawks? Well throughout the offseason, there were plenty of people clamoring for the Seahawks to make a trade for Palmer, especially since he had once thrived under Pete Carroll at USC.
The Raiders are giving up next year's first-round pick for Palmer, as well as a conditional pick in 2013 that will be either a first- or a second-rounder. And I know what you're thinking: "Wait, the Raiders still had draft picks left to trade?"
Or maybe you're just wondering why a team would give up that kind of draft ammunition for a 31-year-old quarterback who hasn't posted a quarterback rating over 90 since 2006, and has never won a playoff game.
But what I'm guessing almost no Seahawks fans are thinking is this: "Boy, I wish the Seahawks had made that trade." If that was the asking price for Palmer, the Seahawks, who are rebuilding with a young nucleus under a new coach and general manager, were wise to pass.
As for the other option the Seahawks didn't choose, we can all agree that, yes Hasselbeck is showing in Tennessee that he still has plenty of good football left in him. But as has been covered in this space and elsewhere, Hasselbeck is in a much better situation with the Titans than he would have been in Seattle, particularly when it comes to his pass protection.
Through five games, Hasselbeck has been sacked just seven times. Tarvaris Jackson, a much more mobile quarterback than Hasselbeck, has been sacked 18 times behind Seattle's young line. Yes a healthy Hasselbeck is still better than Jackson, but it's entirely possible that Hasselbeck wouldn't still be healthy at this point of the season, let alone for 16 games.
Oh, and while we're on the topic of Hasselbeck, let's clear up a misperception that has been going around since the Seahawks decided to replace the face of their franchise with Jackson. The Seahawks did not choose Jackson over Hasselbeck. It wasn't that simple.
Even if we throw out the fact that Jackson was, in part, tabbed as Seattle's starter because of his familiarity with Darrell Bevell's offense, there was more at play in that decision, namely money.
Jackson's contract is worth $8 million over the next two years; Hasselbeck is making more than that just this year in Tennessee. If he plays out his entire three-year deal, Hasselbeck will make $21 million.
So why does that matter? Well in a sport with a salary cap, teams can't just throw money around without considering how it will affect other potential moves. It's entirely possible that, had the Seahawks spent more to keep Hasselbeck, they wouldn't have been able to sign receiver Sidney Rice or tight end Zach Miller or guard Robert Gallery. And there is almost no chance the Seahawks sign all three if they have to spend big money on a quarterback who isn't their long-term answer at the position.
When he signed with Seattle, Rice said this about Jackson: "Tarvaris is one of my closest friends ever since I came into the league. I used to hang out at his place all the time and vice versa. He used to come over to my place and it was like that. So I feel comfortable around him."
Would Rice have signed in Seattle even if Jackson hadn't been here? Quite possibly, if the money was the same, but we don't know that the money would have been available had the Seahawks picked a pricier option at quarterback, i.e., Hasselbeck.
So, when the question is phrased, would your rather have Hasselbeck or Jackson as your quarterback this year? It is certainly easy to answer Hasselbeck. But what if I ask, would you rather have Hasselbeck or Jackson for a couple of years until the Seahawks draft their future quarterback, plus Sidney Rice for five years? Then that changes things, doesn't it?
This is a team still building, and though improved, it's roster still has holes. Giving up two firsts, or even a first and a second, for Palmer would not have been the smart move for the Seahawks. Neither was spending big money on a quarterback who won't be the answer in the long term.
The Seahawks' choice at quarterback wasn't popular when they made it this summer, but in retrospect, particularly with the improvement shown by Jackson over the past two games, it may well have been the right one for team's future.
Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog.
Story tags » Seahawks

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