RENTON, Wash. -- While the Philadelphia Eagles are (rightly) getting most of the nation's attention for the efforts in free agency and at the trading block, other teams are going at the team-building process almost as aggressively. The New York Jets put a lot of money into retaining two of their primary assets in Santonio Holmes and Antonio Cromartie, and the Carolina Panthers put major cash into the retention of a defense that was better in 2010 than you may think.
The lesson for most teams was simple in this abbreviated offseason: Unless you're already prepared for a Super Bowl run, you'd better get to the table quick, have a plan in place, and be ready to throw down some serious cash on the players you want.
For the Seattle Seahawks, and the second-year team of general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, it's been a mixed bag of public perception in their own team remodeling efforts. Letting veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck go and replacing him with former Minnesota Vikings signal-caller Tarvaris Jackson was a curious move that was reviewed as such. Jackson's long familiarity with former Vikings and current Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was the primary reason given by the team. Former Vikings star receiver Sidney Rice, ex-Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Alan Branch, and former Oakland Raiders left guard Robert Gallery followed soon after. Gallery, like Jackson and Rice, came to Seattle under the guise of scheme familiarity, because Gallery had worked with new Seahawks line coach Tom Cable in Oakland.
On Tuesday, the Seahawks brought another one of Cable's former charges over in tight end Zach Miller, who signed a five-year, $34 million deal with $17 million guaranteed. It was another example of the front office acquiring talent to fit the team's coaches, and the coaches will be expected to respond with a continuity the team hasn't seen in years.
Miller should be able to help with that — in the Raiders' first non-losing season (8-8) since 2002, he was Jason Campbell's primary target and made his first Pro Bowl. He caught 60 passes in 92 targets for 685 yards and five touchdowns. Unusually for the formerly deep-receiving Raiders, Miller led the team in catches for the third straight season — each season in which Cable was the team's head coach.
Clearly, there's a connection.
"Zach Miller is a fine, fine player, and he's a better person than he is a player," Cable said after Tuesday practice. "For our team, and what I've seen since coming here with the mentality, Zach's going to fit in extraordinarily well. But the most important thing to me is that we now have two fantastic tight ends with Zach and John Carlson. So, when this thing came up, I was asked about it. And I said, 'We've got a good player here, and you're going to get a good player coming in if you can get him.'"
Carroll agreed with that assessment. "I think this is a fantastic move for us," he said. "Zach is a great football player, he's a great person and a great competitor. We have obviously great information from Tom [Cable] on his background and who he is and what he brings to us. I think he makes us a more versatile offense. We'll be able to use him and John [Carlson] in so many different ways. They'll be on the field at the same time a ton. [We're] thrilled about that flexibility. [We] know that we've got a guy that we can really count on to go to in tough situations. He's been that for his short career.
"For us, we love the fact that he's a young man. He's just 25 years old in the beginning of his second contract. He feels like a young guy to add to this team, but he's experienced and he's got a great background. Also, the experience with what we're doing up front — the terminology and stuff — it's so compatible for him. He's going to help us accelerate the continuity and he's going to get on the field at the same time the other guys get on the field. It's just positives across the board. The best thing is he's a great kid and a great competitor. So we've added another really good football player to our team."
It's a difficult situation for Carlson, but he's not taking the Asante Samuel road and putting it out there that a trade might be the best way to go. For the first time in years, the Seahawks have an embarrassment of riches at multiple positions. Quarterback may not be one of those positions, but there are different ways to make a team better, and the Seahawks have struck where positional value is highest.