Seattle released G Robert Gallery Wednesday after just one year with the Hawks.
photo by Rod Mar / Seattle Seahawks
by Curtis Crabtree
Among the names of free agents scheduling free agent trips to Seattle this week, one name caught everyone by surprise.
G Steve Hutchinson was in town on Wednesday visiting his former team at their new headquarters along the shores of Lake Washington. The seven-time All-Pro was drafted by the Seahawks in 2001 and quickly developed into one of the most dominant offensive linemen in the league.
Hutchinson paired with T Walter Jones to form the best lieft side in the game and paved the way for RB Shaun Alexander to rack up yards and touchdowns.
But that's when the story took an unexpected turn.
After the Seahawks' Super Bowl run in 2005, the team placed the transition tag instead of the franchise tag on Hutchinson that essentially made him a restricted free agent. The Minnesota Vikings found a loophole in the rules to take advantage of this decision by former general manager Tim Ruskell.
The Vikings signed Hutchinson to an offer sheet worth $49 million over seven years. The offer sheet called for the entire sum of the contract to become guaranteed if he wasn't the highest paid offensive lineman on the roster at the time of the signing. Because Jones was the highest paid lineman, Seattle could only keep them in they were willing to guarantee his entire contract.
Seattle wouldn't do so and were forced to let him walk. Because they placed the transition tage on Hutchinson and not the franchise tag, they were entired to no compensation in return from Minnesota.
That contract finally expired after last season making him a free agent.
Apparently seven years and a complete change in the front office has done enough to take away any lingering animosity between the two parties. So how likely is a Hutchinson return to Seattle? According to columnist Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, very much so.
Farmer said on his twitter account Monday that he expected Hutchinson to return to Seattle. He added to that statement after news of Hutchinson's visit to Seattle come out on Wednesday.
"As I wrote Monday, unless somebody blows away the Seahawks' offer, Steve Hutchinson is going back to Seattle."
The Seahawks may have taken a necessary step to make room for Hutchinson on Wednesday as well in releasing G Robert Gallery.
Gallery had signed a three-year contract before last season but played in just 12 games due to injury issues. When he did play, it was obvious the injuries affected his ability to perform as he struggled throughout the season.
Seattle also announced they have re-signed G/T Paul McQuistan.
McQuistan served as a versatile backup for the Seahawks in 2011 starting 10 games at three different positions. McQuistan started three games at left guard and right guard each and four games at left tackle. He'll likely continue in that role.
The Seahawks confirmed they had visits scheduled with free agents QB Chad Henne and QB Matt Flynn this week.
However, Henne never made it to Seattle and elected to sign a two-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars according to a report from Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union.
Flynn is still expected to make it to town on Thursday.
Also expected to visit the Seahawks is former Minnesota Vikings' TE Visanthe Shiancoe according to a report from Steve Wyche of the NFL Network.
With TE John Carlson signing a five-year, $25 million deal with the Vikings on Wednesday, Seattle could be looking for an upgrade to pair alongside TE Zach Miller. Shiancoe is expected to be in Seattle "within the next few days" according to Wyche.
Shiancoe played for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Minnesota and was teammates with QB Tarvaris Jackson and WR Sidney Rice.
Former Tennessee Titans DE Jason Jones is expected in for a visit by the end of the week as well. Jones just completed a visit to the St. Louis Rams but left without signing a contract.
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