As a teacher, I sometimes love to give quizzes. So here's one for you -- WASL style, where they ask you to pick the most correct answer.
Which of the following is the biggest reason for the Seahawks trading their best receiver since Steve Largent to an in-division rival for a mere 4th round pick in this year's NFL Draft?
A. Darrell Jackson was unhappy about his contract.
B. Darrell Jackson refused to attend voluntary workouts, which was detrimental to the team.
C. Darrell Jackson has a history of injuries in places where you don't want your receivers to have histories of injuries.
D. Tim Ruskell is a power-hungry freak who couldn't stand the thought of Darrell Jackson showing him up for even one more day.
Of course, you could make a good case for any of those options. But since it's my classroom, my answer rules. And my answer is C.
Ruskell is charged with caring for the overall health of the franchise -- a great reason why head coaches should never have the kind of power Mike Holmgren had when he first arrived in Seattle -- and his job is to make sure this team can remain competitive over the long haul. Coaches are clouded by things such as relationships and a desire to win now, consequences be darned.
Tim Ruskell could see the writing on the wall. In the NFL, if you allow your talent to become overage and overpaid at the same time, you're asking for a trip to the top of the NFL Draft. Look at Oakland and Tampa Bay, two teams in the Super Bowl not that long ago. Look at how long it has taken San Francisco to escape its own cap hell of the late 1990s. And, conversely, look at how the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have been able to stay competitive year after year.
You see, we've probably seen the best that Darrell Jackson is going to offer, and Ruskell knows that. Jackson has a history of knee problems, problems that have been described in at least a few places as "degenerative." That means, no amount of surgery or rehab is going to get it back to 100 percent. It will only get worse the longer he plays. Jackson also still is battling the turf toe injury he suffered at the end of last year. Believe it or not, that's an injury that has ended careers. (Deion Sanders, before his comeback, comes to mind.)
Yes, Jackson was a gamer who often played through pain and showed up biggest on the brightest stages. He's got 47 career touchdown catches, and has an unmatched rapport with Matt Hasselbeck, where they sometimes seem to be reading each others' minds on the field.
But he's also an injury-prone liability who has missed 40 percent of his team's regular season games, and the ability to be a "gamer" can only continue as long as a player can tolerate pain, and that's usually a shorter amount of time than most of us want to admit. He also sat out countless other mini-camps, training camps days and practices, affecting the continuity of everyone involved.
Nate Burleson played Jackson's position all of training camp last summer while Jackson rested his sore knees. You don't think that played at least a small role in Burleson's troublesome acclimation to the offense? You don't think it affects a team's rhythm when a guy sits out all week, only to show up and play on Sunday?
Jackson might give the 49ers a season at the level of play Seahawks fans have grown accustomed to, and for that, Ruskell likely will draw Seahawks fans' ire. Maybe Jackson even goes Randy Johnson on us. But Ruskell did the right thing: He jettisoned a player whose best days likely are behind him before he could command any more money and cause any more problems with continuity on the team.
Sometimes it's best to just cut bait and move forward, even if you can only get a 4th round pick in return.
I only got as far as Mansfield Wrotto with breakdowns of the Seahawks draft picks, so here are some final thoughts on Sunday's happenings.
- Like most, I was pretty surprised the Seahawks never even tried to address their issues at tight end. That says one of two things to me: 1) The Seahawks are completely happy with their TE situation; or 2) None of the guys after the top two really rung the Seahawks' bell. The team will tell you it's the first. I believe it's probably the second. The team signed Joe Newton out of Oregon State to a free agent contract after the draft ended, telling me they felt the difference between him and a lot of the other guys was smaller than most of us believed.
- It says 5th round choice Will Herring is a linebacker, but he probably projects to safety in the NFL. (Where have we heard that one before?) In all likelihood, this is a special teams pick with the hope that the guy can develop into a solid backup safety at some point.
- With the picks of Courtney Taylor and Jordan Kent and the loss of Jackson, the Seahawks now have eight wide receivers on the roster: Deion Branch, Burleson, D.J. Hackett, Bobby Engram, Ben Obomanu, Taylor, Kent and Chris Jones. There's going to be a bit of a numbers crunch there, as teams typically carry only five or six WRs on their 53-man roster. Probably, it'll be Obomanu, Taylor and Kent duking it out for one or two spots. Will the odd-man out go to the practice squad? Kent is clearly the least polished of the three, but it'll be intriguing to see how much the team is enamored with Kent's potential -- enamored enough to keep him protected from the practice squad?
- Speaking of Kent, here's an interesting little tidbit from NFL.com: "If he had concentrated on football for four years, he would be ranked among the elite at his position. Few players in this draft have as intriguing array of athletic ability and talent that Kent possesses." There's also an interesting little story at The Seattle Times here.
- For those of you interested in where your favorite Cougars landed, you can find that here. I couldn't find a comprehensive list of draftees and signings for Huskies, so this is the best I can do. We also know that C.J. Wallace and Kenny James were among the 11 free agents who signed with the Seahawks shortly after the draft.