Hutchinson could return to Seahawks
RENTON – The metamorphosis of the Seattle Seahawks’ offensive line – one of the youngest starting units in the league – continued during the second day of NFL free agency.
The Seahawks announced the release of 31-year-old guard Robert Gallery, who limped though his only season in Seattle.
Seattle also re-signed versatile offensive lineman Paul McQuistan to undisclosed terms.
And the Seahawks hosted a familiar face – and Gallery’s possible replacement – on Wednesday in former left guard Steve Hutchinson.
Gallery, 31, missed Seattle’s 2011 season opener at San Francisco with a sprained right knee. After struggling in his return the next game against Pittsburgh, Gallery had surgery to repair an injured groin, missing three games.
Gallery was hand-picked by Seattle offensive line/assistant head coach Tom Cable to be the eyes and ears of the line on the field after playing in a zone blocking scheme in Oakland
Gallery struggled to stay on the field, playing through pain and never complaining. But injuries affected his play. Gallery was due to make $5 million in base salary and a $1.5 roster bonus in 2012, neither of which were guaranteed.
Hutchinson, 34, was selected No. 17 by the Seahawks in the 2001 draft. He played his first five seasons in Seattle – including three Pro Bowls – before departing to Minnesota in free agency after the 2005 Super Bowl season. Then-head personnel man Tim Ruskell placed the transition tag on Hutchinson instead of a franchise tag.
The move allowed Hutchinson to sign a seven-year, $49 million offer sheet with the Vikings that not only made him the highest paid guard in the league, but forced Seattle to guarantee the entire $49 million if they wanted to match.
The Seahawks declined, and the lapse in judgment created an even wider divide between Ruskell and coach Mike Holmgren.
After six years in Minnesota, Hutchinson was due to make $7 million in base salary this season, and the rebuilding Vikings chose to release him instead. So Hutchinson is a possibility to return to his old job at left guard for Seattle.
His former offensive coordinator in Minnesota, Darrell Bevell, is now in Seattle.
But the Seahawks could also consider McQuistan for the job. The 28-year-old from Weber State was one of the team’s five best linemen last season. He started 10 games for Seattle, three at left guard, three at right guard and four at left tackle.
McQuistan is the fifth Seattle player to re-sign with the team. Seahawks general manager John Schneider continues to focus on bringing back his own players in free agency after two seasons of significant roster churn.
“We’ve changed a little bit since we’ve got here,” Schneider said. “We’re getting to the point now where we feel strongly about some of our own guys. We’d like to take care of those guys first. And then obviously if there’s a huge gap or a huge hole to fill in free agency, we’re going to attack it, or at least explore it. But we’d really like to kind of hang onto our own guys first.”
Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks