A lot of people sure are angry with Seattle’s front office right now. Some folks have even declared the Whitehurst acquisition as the “worst trade in Seattle history.”
Worst trade? Really?
Whitehurst is an unknown at the professional level. And because of his tender, the San Diego Chargers were due a third-round pick as compensation if he signed elsewhere – the Seahawks gave up much more than that to acquire him. The frustration and confusion is somewhat justified.
But you can’t consider it the “worst trade” in Seattle sports history. Not even close! I wouldn’t even consider it the worst in the past five years – did everyone forget that we gave up a first-round pick for Deion Branch?
The Seahawks faced a dilemma, or at least that is my assumption. Charlie Whitehurst was tendered at the third-round level and the Seahawks did not own a third-round pick in this year’s draft. To my knowledge, that means that a separate compensation package had to be agreed upon between the two parties. Making an offer to Whitehurst that the Chargers couldn’t match and sending a third-round pick as compensation was not an option.
In addition, there was a market for Whitehurst. The Arizona Cardinals reportedly had interest and I’m sure other teams did as well. It is obvious that several NFL executives saw potential in Whitehurst, but that isn’t saying much. I don’t have anything to support this, and who doesn’t see potential in a former third-round pick who has been under the tutelage of Norv Turner for four years? Don’t forget he is 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, has a strong arm, and can move outside of the pocket.
This isn’t the first time teams have given up a lot to acquire unproven (and inexperienced) quarterbacks.
In 2001, the Seahawks (and Mike Holmgren) gave up quite a bit to obtain Matt Hasselbeck from the Green Bay Packers. Seattle and Green Bay swapped first-round picks (10th and 17th overall) and Green Bay also received a third-round pick. At 10th overall, the Packers selected defensive end Jamal Reynolds. The Seahawks ended up with some guy named Steve Hutchinson seven picks later.
In 2007, the Houston Texans acquired Matt Schaub from the Atlanta Falcons. Schaub had been a career backup in Atlanta; despite his inexperience, several teams thought very highly of him. The Texans swapped first-round picks (8th and 10th overall) with Atlanta and also gave up second-round picks in 2007 and 2008. Schaub wasn’t very impressive in Atlanta (84/161, 1,033 yards, 6 touchdowns, 6 interceptions), but he finished last season in Houston with 4,770 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions.
If Charlie Whitehurst is a complete bust a few years from now, then we can declare this trade a failure. But just because he is an unknown commodity doesn’t mean he won’t develop into a good starting quarterback.
Would you rather take your chances on a high-priced first-round pick? Think Rick Mirer, except a contract and obligation that is exponentially greater. In comparison, the acquisition of Whitehurst is rather low-risk, high-reward.
The frustration is warranted, however – the Seahawks did give up a lot to get Whitehurst. But as I’ve mentioned before, Seattle’s front office knows a lot more about potential and quarterbacks than we do. It is obvious they saw something special in Whitehurst; you don’t give up that much in a trade, especially for a player with a third-round tender, unless you think they can help your team win football games.
Instead of chastising Seattle’s front office before Charlie Whitehurst even attempts a pass in the NFL, we should applaud them. Unfortunately, acquiring an unknown and inexperienced quarterback won’t excite fans. But the front office should be trusted (until they make a mistake) and we should appreciate their willingness to go out and acquire new talent.
The new regime has proven that they’re not shy about rebuilding this team. And they’re at least taking a step towards the future with obtaining Whitehurst.
This trade can be revisited after a few seasons. Until then, calm down – have a little faith in your front office (they haven’t made a mistake yet) and appreciate their efforts to put a winning team on the field.