Originally published July 26, 2011 at 9:43 PM | Page modified July 27, 2011 at 12:16 AM

Seahawks going to backup plan at QB

The Seahawks have a backup plan to fill their vacancy at quarterback. Two of them, in fact — and maybe even a third on the way. Start with Charlie Whitehurst...

Seattle Times staff reporter

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The Seahawks have a backup plan to fill their vacancy at quarterback.

Two of them, in fact — and maybe even a third on the way.

Start with Charlie Whitehurst, who was Seattle's No. 2 quarterback last season. Add Tarvaris Jackson, who agreed to terms on a contract Tuesday that he can sign on Friday. Maybe Matt Leinart is on the way, too, according to a report from ESPN that also mentioned Washington as a possibility.

That would make three quarterbacks who were backups last season vying to replace Matt Hasselbeck, who was merely Seattle's starter most of the past 10 seasons.

So who's the heir to that role as the long-term starter? Jackson and Whitehurst figure to duel for first crack at that, but this isn't necessarily a longterm fix, either. There's nothing to stop the Seahawks from revisiting the quarterback question again next season if no one emerges from this group.

But Seattle spelled out its intentions at quarterback Tuesday, the first day teams could negotiate with free agents. No Hasselbeck, who was told the Seahawks would go in another direction. No Kevin Kolb of Philadelphia, who many thought the Seahawks might try to trade for.

The Seahawks had already turned their attention elsewhere by the time Wednesday ended. According to a report from ESPN, the Seahawks were pursuing Sidney Rice, the Vikings receiver, and were vying to outbid Minnesota for him.

Rice, 24, played the past four seasons for the Vikings, where Darrell Bevell was the offensive coordinator. Bevell now holds the same position in Seattle. Rice caught eight touchdowns in 2009 and finished with 1,312 receiving yards, emerging as Brett Favre's favorite target. Rice was slowed by a hip injury last season, played only six games and caught 17 passes.

Seattle has played footsie with high-profile receivers before. The Seahawks courted Brandon Marshall of Denver last season before he was traded to Miami, and Seattle was also interested in the Chargers' Vincent Jackson.

At 6 feet 4, Rice has the size, and his reach is incredible. Former Seahawks coach Jim Mora once referred to him having "go-go gadget arms."

Seattle also had discussions with defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who is an unrestricted free agent. There was no agreement, but Mebane's agent characterized the conversations with Seattle as the most "in-depth" of any talks with teams.

While NFL teams could begin discussing contracts with veteran free agents Tuesday, no deals can be signed until Friday, and free agents signed from another team won't be eligible to practice until Aug. 4.

That means Whitehurst will have a bit of a head start in terms of practice time, but Jackson already has familiarity with Seattle's offense considering he played the past five seasons under Bevell.

Jackson, 28, started 20 games for the Vikings, who went 10-10 in those games. He got the short end of Favre's unretirements the past two seasons, supplanted on the depth chart.

In Seattle, he gets a chance to establish himself as a starter. Of course, Whitehurst figures to get the same opportunity after he went 1-1 in the two games Hasselbeck missed because of injury last season.

And Leinart could wind up getting a chance, too, if he ends up in Seattle. A former first-round pick, he won a Heisman Trophy under Carroll at USC. Carl Smith, Seattle's new quarterbacks coach, worked with Leinart in 2004.

Leinart was released by Arizona last year, and wound up in Houston where he spent the season in the same spot as Jackson and Whitehurst: a backup. One of them figures to get a starting opportunity this season.


• Seattle signed 19 undrafted free agents Tuesday: DT Ladi Ajiboye (South Carolina); DE Pierre Allen (Nebraska); WR Doug Baldwin (Stanford); FB Dorson Boyce (Washington); DE Jarrett Crittenton (Middle Tennessee State); P John Gold (Texas); CB Jesse Hoffman (Eastern Washington); G Michael Huey (Texas); T Zach Hurd (Connecticut); S Jeron Johnson (Boise State); QB Zach Lee (Nebraska); WR Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State); LB Deron Minor (McNeese State); LB Mike Morgan (USC); G/C Brent Osborne (Harvard); CB Ron Parker (Newberry); QB Josh Portis (California University, Pa.); S Rickey Thenarse (Nebraska); TE Ryan Travis (West Liberty).

NFL numbers
How three prospective Seahawks quarterbacks have done in their pro careers:
G GS Comp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rate
Jackson 36 20 354 603 58.7 3,984 24 22 76.6
Leinart 29 17 340 595 57.1 3,893 14 20 70.8
Whitehurst 8 2 57 99 57.6 507 2 3 65.5

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