The Seahawks have been a supreme disappointment ever since making it to Super Bowl XL in 2006. That did not change in their first and only year with Jim Mora as head coach. Seattle was decimated by injuries, especially on their offensive line, which led to another disappointing losing season.
2010 will mark the return of Pete Carroll to the NFL as the head coach of the Seahawks. No doubt he will bring the same youthful energy that defined his tenure at USC, but what changes does he have in store for Seattle's depleted roster?
After the jump, let's take a look at who is eligible for free agency this off-season...
WR Nate Burleson (UFA) - At only 28 years of age and coming off the best season of his career, Burleson should garner some interest on the open market. The Seahawks are expected to release Deion Branch, their other top receiver, but it is unclear what they intend to do in regards to Burleson.
T Brandon Frye (RFA) - Frye has spent the majority of his career on the practice squad, but saw some time as the starting left tackle this season due to injuries. He was placed on injured reserve October 13th after suffering a neck injury.
LB David Hawthorne (ERFA) - Hawthorne impressed the Seahawks management when he filled in for the injured Lofa Tatupu at middle linebacker. They have even discussed including some 3-4 packages in their defense, as a way of getting Hawthorne on the field. Whether or not they go so far as to change their defense to get him snaps, it seems like Hawthorne is a lock to return to Seattle in 2010.
LB Lance Laury (RFA) - Laury is a key contributor on the Seattle Special Teams. Even if he is not tendered a qualifying offer and becomes an unrestricted free agent, it seems likely that he will remain with the Seahawks.
DB Ken Lucas (UFA) - Lucas spent much of the season as Seattle's starting right cornerback. It's possible that he will return to the club, but they could use an upgrade at the cornerback position.
K Olindo Mare (UFA) - Mare set a franchise record when he ended the season with 21 consecutive field goals. He was superb in 2009 and there's a good chance he'll be back with the club in 2010.
WR Ben Obomanu (RFA) - Obomanu missed all of 2008 with an ankle injury, and he did not have much of an impact in 2009. He has recorded 15 receptions during his three years with the club.
DL Cory Redding (RFA) - Seattle traded for Redding before the start of this season, hoping to pair him with Patrick Kerney at the defensive end position. Redding was solid but unspectacular in his stint with the Seahawks.
G Rob Sims (RFA) - Sims was projected to start at guard for the Seahawks, but missed a good chunk of the season due to injury.
DL Darryl Tapp (RFA) - Played behind Patrick Kerney and Cory Redding at the defensive end position. He has been a consistent player throughout his four year career.
Left Tackle - All-Pro tackle Walter Jones was unable to play at all this year, and according to his Twitter page he will be retiring from football. Sean Locklear spent 2009 as the starting left tackle, but he is not thought of as the long term answer at the position. If they are going to improve their offense in 2010 they will need to rebuild their line, starting with an upgrade at left tackle.
Guard - Rob Sims and Chris Spencer have shown some potential at the guard position, but they have not been able to put it all together as of yet. This could be an area where bringing in another player to add some competition could yield improved play on the interior of the Seahawks line.
Quarterback - Once considered one of the league's elite quarterbacks, Matt Hasselbeck seems to be on the downside of his career. In 2009 he was largely ineffective, even on the rare occasions when his offensive line afforded him time to throw. Given that Hasselbeck is now 34 years old, it seems likely that Seattle will bring in a young quarterback at some point this off-season to groom for the future.
Running Back - Justin Forsett averaged over five yards a carry this season, but adding another back to compliment his running style could give the Seahawks lackluster running game a boost.
Safety - Neither of the Seahawks starting safeties are playing at a very high level. Both Jonathan Babineaux and Deon Grant were exposed in coverage situations in 2009. Look for Seattle to pursue a safety with more ball skills to upgrade the position.
Defensive Line - You can never have enough defensive linemen, and the Seahawks would do well to upgrade their line in order to fully take advantage of their talent linebacker corps. Another big body up front would help keep the second level of their defense running free to the ball. The addition of another outside pass rusher to partner with Patrick Kerney would also help to shore up their pass defense.
Given all their needs, I think upgrading the offensive line is the most pressing. An improvement in the trenches would immediately improve their entire offense. When you consider the value that teams assign to franchise left tackles, it seems likely that Seattle will hold off on pursuing a starting tackle in free agency and instead focus on picking one up via the draft.
It is more likely that they will look to add depth to the interior of their line via free agency. By increasing their talent pool on the offensive line, they can help mitigate the effect of injuries on their offensive production.
The other big question mark on the offensive side of the ball concerns the quarterback position. At the age of 34, Hassellbeck does not fit in with where this team is going. It seems very likely that Carroll and company will look to add a talented young quarterback at some point during the draft or free agency. There have even been rumblings of a possible Matt Hasselbeck - Mike Holmgren reunion in Cleveland. Still, if the offensive line is improved I would expect Hasselbeck to return as the starter and to be productive in 2010.
Since being hired as the head coach, Pete Carroll has been linked to just about every former USC player now in the NFL. Everyone from Reggie Bush to LenDale White have been rumored to be heading for a reunion with Carroll as a member of the Seahawks. While only time will tell if any of these rumors actually come to fruition, I think for the most part they will remain hearsay and conjecture.
One thing Carroll has always been known for is his defensive coaching prowess, and I that is the side of the ball where he will make the most impact. He will likely try to find a way to improve Seattle's pass rush, as well as finding at least one play making safety.
Do you think there is any truth to the rumors of possible USC reunions involving Carroll and his former college players? What would you do at the quarterback position if you were running the Seahawks? Seattle has some talent in their receiving corps but they lack a true number one, who would be a good fit for them at that position?