Monday, March 06, 2006

Keeping Shaun: A Gutsy Move
By Zach

It might seem a bit odd to say that Tim Ruskell's decision to resign the reigning NFL MVP, and the all-time single-season touchdown record-holder, is gutsy, but that's the best (and kindest) adjective I can use. As reported all over the place, Shaun Alexander has resigned with the Seattle Seahawks for 8 years, $62 million. In the NFL, neither of those two numbers means much, but what does is the guaranteed $15.1 million that Alexander will take to the bank this season. In the midst of uncertainty about the future of the league, at least from a labor and salary cap standpoint, it's quite the commitment for the Seahawks to offer that kind of money to any player, but particularly a running back.

I've said many times that I didn't think Alexander would be back. I figured he'd get a deal like this, but not from the Seahawks. Ruskell has shown a willingness to go with lower profile players, which led me to believe that he'd view Alexander as at least partially replacable, especially when compared to a guy like Steve Hutchinson.

On the surface, this seems like a bad move to me. You're committing a lot of money to a 29-year-old running back who carried the ball 370 times last season and has had work-ethic issues in the past. Furthermore, Hutchinson is still unsigned, and since the team only chose to give him the transition tag, if someone offers him a huge deal the Seahawks can't or won't match, he's gone without compensation. If signing Alexander costs the Hawks Hutchinson, it will be a move they'll regret for years.

On the other hand, I can understand why they resigned Shaun. They know he's a great back, and they know he fits with their style of line and their style of play (except for his struggles catching the ball). If he puts out the kind of effort he did last season for another three or four years, it's a great deal.

The Seahawks didn't have a ton of holes to fill during the offseason. They obviously needed to decide the fate of a few free agents: Alexander, Hutchinson, Rocky Bernard, Joe Jurivicious among them. Ken Hamlin's future at safety remains uncertain, and after cutting Andre Dyson the team could use help at cornerback. Still, they're well positioned for another Super Bowl run next season. If they get there, it could be because a gutsy gamble by Tim Ruskell paid off.


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