The Seahawks believe Charlie Whitehurst can be a starting-caliber quarterback, someone who can be an eventual successor to Matt Hasselbeck.
That’s what the Seahawks will place in Charlie Whitehurst as Seattle is expected to give up draft-day position this year, a third-round choice next year and more than $8 million over the next two years to acquire the Chargers’ restricted free-agent quarterback.
That’s about all anyone has to go on with Whitehurst, too. In four years, the Chargers’ third-string quarterback has taken only a handful of meaningful snaps and has yet to attempt a regular-season pass.
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But the Seahawks believe he can be a starting-caliber quarterback, someone who can be an eventual successor to Matt Hasselbeck. Seattle made that clear with everything it will give up to acquire the restricted free agent, a deal first reported by ESPN:
• The Seahawks agreed to swap draft positions in the second round, Seattle giving up its choice (No. 40 overall) for San Diego’s selection (No. 60 overall).
• Seattle gives up its third-round choice to San Diego in 2011.
• The Seahawks are expected to sign Whitehurst to a two-year contract that will pay him more than $4 million per season.
Matt Hasselbeck, according to NFL Players Association records, is scheduled to make $5.75 million in base salary. Hasselbeck has already earned a $1 million roster bonus.
The team made no formal announcement, and Whitehurst’s agent did not return multiple messages.
Seattle needed to plan for the future at quarterback, and this deal will be a yardstick for the franchise under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Whitehurst won’t necessarily supplant Hasselbeck. Not right away. But Seattle didn’t take a flier on a backup quarterback — the Seahawks made an investment in someone the franchise sees as a future starter.
Acquiring Whitehurst didn’t cost Seattle all that much more than it gave up nine years ago to acquire Hasselbeck, then Green Bay’s backup. The Seahawks swapped first-round picks with the Packers, moving from 10th to 17th, and gave up a third-round pick. Seattle also signed Hasselbeck to a five-year, $24 million contract before the 2001 season began.
Hasselbeck had some history with Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who was with the Packers when they drafted Hasselbeck. But Hasselbeck spent his one season under Holmgren on Green Bay’s practice squad, and Hasselbeck has joked Holmgren went so far as shooing him out of the team picture.
Whitehurst and Carroll have both been in Southern California the past few years, but that’s about it. Whitehurst went to school at Clemson and was drafted in the third round in 2006.
In San Diego, Whitehurst played four seasons for coach Norv Turner, known for grooming quarterbacks. But Whitehurst also remained third in the Chargers’ pecking order, behind not just starter Philip Rivers but backup Billy Volek.
The extent of Whitehurst’s regular-season statistics is two rushing attempts for 13 yards. In four years’ worth of exhibition games, Whitehurst has thrown five touchdown passes and been intercepted seven times. His passer rating in those games was 61.5.
That’s the extent of Whitehurst’s body of work in NFL games, though, and he ended up commanding a premium from the Seahawks in an offseason in which a number of quarterbacks have been cast off for late-round draft picks, fullbacks and the loose change found in the coach’s pocket. Brady Quinn and Seneca Wallace are prime examples of that.
Derek Anderson made the Pro Bowl with Cleveland in 2007. The Cardinals got him for less money than Seattle will pay Whitehurst and didn’t give up any draft picks to do that.
But Whitehurst was the quarterback Seattle preferred over Anderson. That’s the reason the Seahawks not only will end up paying Whitehurst more than Anderson will receive, but were willing to give up draft position and a 2011 third-round choice to the Chargers for the right to do so.
• Free-agent running back Quinton Ganther will sign with the Seahawks, according to his agent. Ganther played for Washington last season.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org