We talked to Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell for about a half hour this morning on several topics with training camp only a day away.
First, on the Aaron Curry front, Ruskell said the two sides are continuing to negotiate and he'd like to have Curry in camp on Friday, particularly because of the important role Curry is expected to play on Seattle's defense this year.
However, there is no deal in place as of today. Only seven of the 32, first-round picks have agreed to terms with teams at this time.
"We've been non-stop talking to those guys for the last, few days," Ruskell said. "And we did get our second rounder (Max Unger) done, that happened late yesterday. So Max is on board. So it's just down to Curry now.
"We're optimistic. We've worked with Mike Sullivan many times, on many deals. I go back to Trent's (Dilfer) original deal in Tampa, and Mike was his associate. So we know Mike well. We know how he operates. We think it's not going to be how much the structure is and the other, little things you put into a contract. It's going to come down to the main core of the deal, and there aren't a lot of precedents to go by right now."
Ruskell hinted the two quarterback deals in the top five signed by Detroit's Matthew Stafford and the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez, who was selected one spot behind Curry at No. 5, along with the amount of first-round picks still unsigned and the looming possibility of a capless year in 2010 are all affecting negotiations.
"We'll discount the quarterback deals," Ruskell said. "They'll say, 'Nope, there it is.' And so there in lies the rub of where the deal will get done. But we're optimistic. It's been good talks so far. We absolutely want him in by tomorrow. We don't want him to miss a day. Here's a guy we're projecting to start, and that would hurt him."
The Seahawks have some questions about Mike Wahle's health, and if he does not pass a physical when the veterans report on Friday, Ruskell said the team will reassess how they will move forward with him. Currently, if Wahle, who is returning from surgery on his right shoulder, can't go, the team's plan is to go with newly signed second-round draft pick Max Unger.
However, Ruskell said they also could consider flopping right guard Rob Sims to the left side. So concerns with Wahle's health is the reason the Seahawks chose to work Unger at left guard during offseason workouts.
Walter Jones and Patrick Kerney, both coming off of season-ending injuries last season, are expected to practice in a limited capacity beginning on Friday.
Ruskell said the addition of veterans like defensive end Cory Redding, defensive tackle Colin Cole and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh not only add talent to the organization, but also add leadership to a team that perhaps had a void in that department last season.
"More so than the bodies and the talent level, we feel like we've added leadership," Ruskell said. "And maybe that was a bigger hole than maybe we gave it credit for."
Speaking of Redding, Ruskell said the team still hasn't decided where Redding will play yet, which he believes is a good thing. Ruskell also compared Redding to former Seahawk Chuck Darby in terms of players gravitating to the veteran defensive lineman.
Ruskell said he feels good about all the changes made during the offseason.
He also said in terms of position battles, he expects the competition for starting roles on the defensive line to be heated, along with the battle at cornerback between Ken Lucas and Josh Wilson, and the battle at free safety between Brian Russell and Jordan Babineaux. Babs has been used as a situational player in passing situations, but is now being given an opportunity to compete for the starting free safety position.
Ruskell again confirmed Seattle is satisfied with its depth at running back, particularly with the emergence of Justin Forsett. He pointed to running back committees being effectively used across the league, specifically the three-back rotation used by the New York Giants last season.
I'll have the full transcript of the Ruskell conversation later today.