This is clearly an issue of much debate -- which we love around these parts! The fact is, we don't know all the details yet -- in fact, we might not know many of them. Here is what we don't know, from my perspective:
- The cost of Whitehurst. Neither team has confirmed the deal, and now ESPN is scrolling that Seattle receives a 2010 3rd Round pick as part of the deal. If that's the case, we swapped seconds for Whitehurst and traded next year's third round pick for this year's... would anyone balk at that trade?
- The plans for Whitehurst and Hasselbeck. Many people are screaming about how Whitehurst is getting starter money (more on that next), but even averaging the reported 2 years, $10 million, he isn't. Hasselbeck is one of the lowest paid QBs around right now, and he'll make $5.45MM next year, still more than Whitehurst. Hasselbeck is the starter on this team at this point, for better or worse, until we hear otherwise. Carroll wants a real competition at every position, and as fans, shouldn't we want that too?
- We don't know what the contract looks like. We hear 2 years, up to $10 million. Wow. Remember when he heard Leroy Hill was making $36 million over 6 years? Well, in reality, Hill's contract last year was a 2 year deal for about $13 million (going off memory here), because he had a small signing bonus and guaranteed money only for the first two years. For all we know, Whitehurst's $10MM includes a $5 million escalator if he starts 9 games, with a $2 million guaranteed. Would that be bad? Not at all. My point is just that contract numbers are meaningless in the NFL.
Here is what we do know:
- Charlie Whitehurst is an unknown commodity. He could not crack the #2 place on the depth chart in San Diego, which is bad, but he had one of the most competent backups in the league ahead of him in Billy Volek. Whitehurst hasn't been great in preseason, but so what? Like someone once said "Charlie Frye was awesome in the preseason." He was mediocre in college. I get all of this, but he has the size and arm to succeed in the right system. It appears that maybe -- just maybe -- Carroll and Bates think their system will fit him.
- This is a low risk signing for a quarterback. I know it FEELS like we're giving up a lot, but we aren't. Sando broke down the deal to essentially be trading the last pick of the 2nd Round for Whitehurst. I'd rather that than spend the first pick of the second round on any of the QBs in this draft; moneywise, you take about the same size risk for Clausen or Bradford (though they're younger), but they cost 7x as much and possibly much more than that in guaranteed money.
- Our team was terrible last year and the year before. We can't forget that. We love a lot of these guys, and many of them are not going to be on the team in 2010. That's tough. No one said this would be painless. Seeing Tapp go hurts; seeing Sims go, someone I've personally rallied for when others were hating him, might be tough. Deon Grant is a phenomenal guy and was fun to have on our team. This sucks. It does. But it's part of being a fan.
One last thing about the "third string quarterback" complaint:
- He was drafted in 2006, Norv Turner took over the Chargers in 2007. The fact that a third string quarterback survived a new regime speaks something to that quarterback, really. Turner looks for a specific toolset in his quarterback who is central to the offense that he runs. Phil Rivers has that, Billy Volek sort of does, but maybe it wasn't developing fast enough in Whitehurst. That doesn't mean he can't fit into another offense. See: Schaub.