After five years in the president's chair. Tim Ruskell thought he had the right to go to his bosses in the Seattle Seahawks organization and ask about his future in the last year of his current contract. It was a point he'd been pushing for a while, but with the team going steadily downhill since the second year of his arrival, maybe he shouldn't have pushed so hard. This morning, the Seahawks called a hastily-assembled press conference (reporters got about 12 hours notice) to announce Ruskell's resignation. In speaking to ESPN.com's Mike Sando hours before the PC took place, Ruskell said that "If I am not going to spearhead (offseason and free agency) meetings and it wasn't going to happen no matter what our record was, you become a lame duck. And I did not want that."
Pretty ironic, since Ruskell announced the hire of current head coach Jim Mora with a year left on the contract of former head coach Mike Holmgren, essentially dooming the future Hall-of-Famer to the exact lame-duck status Ruskell himself would not tolerate. And now, with Ruskell gone, the fan sentiment and round of rumors regarding Holmgren's return in some coaching and/or administrative capacity get a big turbo boost. Holmgren still lives in Seattle, and he's said publically that he'd jump at the chance for a return under the right circumstances. Another qualified candidate might be current Director of Pro Personnel Will Lewis, though the Seahawks could also make Lewis their Rooney Rule candidate and then expand his role under a new Holmgren presidency.
As for Ruskell, his legacy in Seattle is a curious one. His defensive additions in 2005 led the team with an already-built offense to its first and only Super Bowl appearance. But when he was tasked with bigger-budget decisions, he generally failed mightily -- losing Steve Hutchinson(notes) over the $600k difference between the franchise and transition tags, trading a first-round pick for Deion Branch(notes) ... eventually, his bad personnel decisions added up. Through 2008 and the first 11 games of 2009, the Seahawks are 8-19. If you take their four wins over the Rams out of the equation, they're 4-19 in that span -- a very Browns/Lions number indeed. Ruskell wasn't Matt Millen, but he sure as heck wasn't Bill Polian, either.
Whoever Ruskell's replacement may be, that person's got a pretty big task ahead of him, as bad GMs generally leave huge personnel holes in their wake. The Seahawks have current or near-future debits at just about every offensive line position, cornerback, free and strong safety, defensive end, nose tackle, and the elephant in the living room -- no replacement on the horizon for 34-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck(notes). Best of luck, new guy!