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    1 Sam Bradford
    2 Ndamukong Suh
    3 Gerald McCoy
    4 Trent Williams
    5 Eric Berry
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Niners deal Balmer to Seattle for sixth round pick

Trouble Kentwan signs with the Seahawks

Trouble Kentwan signs with the Seahawks

Kentwan Balmer, the 49ers’ former first-round pick who has gone AWOL from the team in recent days, is on his way to the Seattle Seahawks, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Terms of the deal are not yet know. Seattle needs depth along the defensive line and Balmer potentially could play multiple positions there, including nose tackle and defensive end. Moreover, former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, who drafted Balmer 29th overall in San Francisco, is now with the Seahawks.

***UPDATE*** I’ve been told that the 49ers will get a sixth-round pick in return for Balmer.

Balmer, meanwhile, has been unexcused from 49ers training camp since Wednesday. At that point, the 49ers sent him a so-called five-day letter, which gave the team the right to put him on the reserve/left list starting today. That would have shut down Balmer’s season for good.

Balmer was initially excused from camp to deal with a “personal issue,” but it soon became clear to the 49ers he did not want to return to the team. Asked Friday if he thought Balmer would be back, coach Mike Singletary said, “If Kentwan wanted to be here, he’d be here.”

Balmer has had trouble cracking the starting lineup since he was drafted in 2008 and was behind Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald at left defensive end. Balmer had spoken in recent months about frustration over where he was on the depth chart.


Did Seahawks really win the contract with Okung?

Show me the Money!!!!

If the reported contract numbers and Pete Carroll are telling the truth, the Seahawks won the six-day game of chicken against Russell Okung’s agent.

Okung’s deal has been reported as a six-year contract worth up to $58 million, with about $30 million guaranteed.

If it is indeed a straight six-year deal, with no option for Okung to void the sixth year, the Seahawks definitely won—getting the left tackle for six years at a slightly below-market average of $5 million per year in guaranteed money.

And, if that’s the case, there’s no way this should have dragged on a week into camp.

“This could have been done sooner,” Carroll told reporters. “We stood very strong. I really think (General Manager) John (Schneider) did a great job of hanging in there and holding the line where we wanted to.”

The holdup was first thought to be length of deal, with agent Peter Schaffer understandably wanting five years.

Then came informed speculation that Schaffer wanted Okung to be paid a premium for a sixth year and/or be paid more than safety Eric Berry, who was drafted one spot ahead of Okung.

But, on the surface, it does not appear he got any of that.

The only way this deal makes sense for Schaffer and Okung is if the sixth year is voidable based on Okung’s performance.

Otherwise, the Seahawks got Okung for the amount of time they wanted and for less guaranteed money than they should have had to pay.

No. 4 pick Trent Williams, also an offensive tackle, and No. 5 pick Berry each signed six-year deals worth $60 million. No. 7 pick Joe Haden, a cornerback, got $50 million over five years. So, Okung’s $9.67 million per season in the overall deal is perfectly in the ballpark.

But, as with all NFL contracts, the overall value is really just for show. In the NFL, it’s all about guaranteed money. Players usually get that money within the first three years through various bonuses; but, for slotting purposes, the best way to compare guaranteed money is to break it down by year.

Williams received $36.75 million in guarantees, an average of about $6.1 million per year, while Berry got $34 million, an average of $5.67 million. Haden received $26 million, or $5.2 million per year. All fall into proper slotting order.

However, if Okung’s $30 million over six years is correct, Schaffer certainly did not get the sixth-year premium he allegedly was looking for, because Okung’s guaranteed cash averages $5 million per year—less than Haden’s.

If the sixth year can be voided, the guaranteed money would break down to about $6 million per year—which would achieve Schaffer’s reported goal of surpassing Berry’s contract. But, according to Carroll, it doesn’t sound like Schneider gave in on that.

It’s quite possible that Schaffer was concerned only with the total values, getting bonus money between Haden’s $26 million and Berry’s $34 million in a deal that averaged about $10 million per year in the total package.

But if that’s all he wanted, there’s absolutely no way this should have gone on as long as it did.

The complete details will trickle out eventually, and then we’ll all know what the holdup was and be better able to judge this deal.

In the meantime, the Seahawks’ offensive line just got better than it has been in three years.

Hasselbeck calls Bill Leavy a “stand-up guy”

A day after apologizing for his mistakes officiating Super Bowl XL, Bill Leavy was still in Seattle on Saturday, working Seahawks practice with his crew.

Percy Allen of the Seattle Times writes that some team officials commended Leavy for his honesty, while others had no comment.  It remains a touchy subject, but quarterback Matt Hasselbeck appreciated Leavy’s words.

“I think all of the officials we have in the NFL are stand-up guys and Leavy is no different,” Hasselbeck said.

Hasselbeck pointed out that he regrets some games and understands the human element in officiating. More importantly, he didn’t hold Leavy responsible for the final result.

“We lost the game,” Hasselbeck said.  “Like I said Bill Leavy like all of our officials is a stand-up guy. It’s a long time ago. We lost the game.”

Five years later, Hasselbeck admits how hard it has been to move on from that game.

“It was probably a good thing that we talked because like Seahawks fans, I myself have had to sort of get to the point where I could kind of get past everything.”

Russell Okung wants more money than Eric Berry

Show me the Money!!!!

Unbelievably, it’s looking like the impasse in negotiations between the Seahawks and Russell Okung is indeed about money, with Okung’s agent reportedly thinking a tackle should be paid more than a safety even if the safety was drafted first.

Okung, picked sixth overall, is one of only two unsigned first-rounders, and the players picked all around him have signed, so the money parameters are well established.

“It’s pretty clear,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters Sunday. “All of the work has been done and the staging of the position we’re in, it’s really clear how this should go.”

No. 4 pick Trent Williams, also an offensive tackle, and No. 5 pick Eric Berry, a safety, each signed six-year deals worth $60 million. No. 7 pick Joe Haden, a cornerback, got $50 million over five years. So, we know Okung should get a contract worth $10 million per season.

The haggling comes down to years and guaranteed money. Williams received $36.75 million, an average of about $6.1 million per year, while Berry got $34 million, an average of $5.67 million. Haden received $5.2 million per year.

Sensible folk would rightly conclude that Okung should receive guaranteed cash in the range between what Haden got and what Berry got – i.e., $5.4 million per year.

But, according to the beat writers who cover the Seahawks, Schaffer apparently wants Okung to be paid more than Berry, even though the safety was drafted one spot ahead of the tackle.

Mike Sando of ESPN.com wrote: “For Okung, the issues are twofold: Should his deal run five years or six? And how much should that sixth year cost?

“Okung, as a left tackle, stands to gain more in free agency once his deal ends than Berry is likely to command as a safety. He’ll naturally want a five-year deal and, if he’s going to take a sixth year, he’ll want to be paid at a premium offsetting the extra year he’ll spend before reaching free agency.

“But, if you’re the Seahawks, it’s difficult to pay more for the sixth overall choice than the Chiefs paid for the fifth pick.”

Meanwhile, Danny O’Neil of The Seattle Times says it’s simply a matter of Schaffer thinking a left tackle is worth more than a safety.

“The biggest sticking point right now is over the idea of a position premium,” O’Neil wrote in an online chat Wednesday. “This is about the value of left tackle vs. the value of a safety, and while it’s true that in today’s NFL economics a left tackle is more valuable than a safety by almost every measure, it’s also true that quarterback is the only position that has commanded a premium in terms of rookie negotiations in the past.”

By “premium,” O’Neil means that quarterbacks have been the only rookies who traditionally have been paid more than their draft slots would otherwise merit.

It seems that Schaffer might be trying to milk the final uncapped year before a rookie wage scale is imposed, and he might be trying to leverage the Seahawks’ desperate need for the left tackle they drafted to replace Walter Jones. He also might be trying to see whether the Seahawks’ new management team will blink, like it did with Charlie Whitehurst.

If Schaffer wants more money for his client, here’s a solution: The Seahawks can give Okung the extra cheddar – e.g., a six-year, $60 million deal with a very generous $36 million ($6 million per year) guaranteed. But make Schaffer agree to a team option for two more years, with the salaries dependent on Okung’s performance in his first four seasons – i.e., if he becomes a Pro Bowl player, pay him at the franchise-tag level (if he’s average, pay him accordingly).

Otherwise, the Seahawks should make the sixth year voidable through incentives or just settle on a five-year deal within the financial parameters that have been set by other signings (five years, $50 million, $27 million guaranteed). Of course, that assumes Schaffer isn’t trying to get the “tackle premium” even on a five-year deal. If he is, he’s just wasting everyone’s time.

In the end, there are only a couple of ways to do this fairly: straight-up slotting or added money with added time. Anything else is unrealistic and will result in a very long holdout and a wasted rookie season for Okung.

At some point, Okung is going to have to evaluate whether his agent is doing the right thing and decide whether to keep Schaffer or find someone who is willing to do a fair deal.

Until then, it’s simply ridiculous the Seahawks don’t have their new left tackle in uniform yet.

Golden Tate Signs With the Seahawks

Golden Tate Sure Marple Bars

The Seattle Seahawks and second-round draft pick Golden Tate have agreed to terms on a contract.

Tate confirmed the news via Twitter, posting: “Praise God!!! Terms and conditions have been reached for the seattle seahawks! Let’s play ball!”

The National Football Post is reporting the contract is for four years and $3.261 million, including $1.471 million guaranteed.

Tate concluded a standout career at Notre Dame by winning the Biletnikoff Award last year as the nation’s top wide receiver in his junior season.

He was voted a consensus First-Team All-American after racking up 1,496 yards and 15 touchdowns on 93 receptions for the Irish. In doing so, he set new single-season Notre Dame marks for catches and receiving yards and added a pair of rushing TDs as well as a punt return for a score.

Taken 60th overall in April’s draft, the 5-foot-10, 199-pound 21-year-old ended his tenure at Notre Dame ranked second in touchdown receptions (26), tied for third in receptions (157) and second with 4,130 all-purpose yards despite playing just three years. Tate amassed a school-record 15 career 100- yard receiving games.

Read more articles on the Flight of the Seahawks

Golden Tate’s contract situation could be clearing up.

Golden Tate Shure Marple Bars

While it might be difficult for the Seahawks to get first-round draft picks Russell Okung and Earl Thomas signed in time for the start of training camp Saturday, circumstances are setting up to clarify things concerning negotiations with second-round pick Golden Tate.

Only one of the NFL’s 32 first-round picks have signed, that being Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, the 24th overall selection.

Okung was the sixth pick in the first round and Thomas was selected 14th. Both will move immediately into Seattle’s starting lineup once they sign, but with uncertainties involving the collective bargaining agreement, negotiations among first-round picks are extremely slow league-wide at this point.

Read more at Flight of the Seahawks

Camp countdown: Seahawks hope new leaders will translate into stability.

The Seattle Seahawks won’t be the same in 2010. That doesn’t mean they’ll be any better than last season, when they were a 5-11 afterthought. But they will be different, as the franchise begins its most severe overhaul in a decade with a new coach in Pete Carroll and new general manager in John Schneider.
Pete  Carroll's job is to reinvigorate the Seahawks and teach them to win.
Pete Carroll’s job is to reinvigorate the Seahawks and teach them to win.

Starting over looks to be a good thing for Seattle, which let a once-potent offense age, atrophy and erode to the point that the team finished with just 280 points in 2009 — the franchise’s fewest since 1993. Meanwhile, the defense has not performed up to the investment the Seahawks have made in terms of draft picks and free agents.

Enter Carroll, twice fired in the NFL but epically successful at Southern Cal. He was hired to remake the franchise around one philosophy: his. “A new time for us,” Carroll said after conducting his first minicamp. “It is a new day for the Seahawks we hope.”

What’s new

Offense: Coordinator Jeremy Bates’ NFL indoctrination came under Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay, but Seattle’s offense will look more like what Mike Shanahan ran in Denver in everything from terminology to the ground game. The passing game will contain the quick rollouts and quarter bootlegs that used to be a Broncos trademark while the running game will feature the one-cut-and-go discipline that once allowed Denver to swap out 1,000-yard rushers as if it were changing tires.
Seattle has spent millions on veteran receivers, signing Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh to large contracts over the past four years. And for all that money, it has yet to find a true No. 1 wideout. Now, the top receiver in yards per catch last season is gone after Burleson left for Detroit in free agency. Mike Williams, a former first-round pick of the Lions who ate his way out of the league, has looked good in workouts and is in the picture for playing time.
The performance of Matt Hasselbeck and the passing game will depend a lot on the development of rookie left tackle Russell Okung. The Seahawks need Okung to be effective immediately so that Hasselbeck can recapture his passing rhythm after absorbing too many hits the past two seasons. The team hopes free-agent pickup Leon Washington can provide big plays to complement the running of Julius Jones and Justin Forsett.
Defense: Defensive coordinator is among the few positions that didn’t change in Seattle’s coaching staff. Casey Bradley is a Monte Kiffin disciple and was retained by Carroll, who is showing flexibility in his approach. The Seahawks will use what looks like a 3-4 scheme at times, employing what is being called the “elephant” pass rusher. That’s essentially a hybrid linebacker/end who lines up in a two-point stance and comes from different angles and gaps along the line.
Seattle will deploy Chris Clemons in the hybrid position initially. Clemons is a pass-rushing specialist acquired from the Eagles in March who had seven sacks over the previous two seasons. The question is whether he’ll be enough to stimulate a pass rush that was dormant at the end of the 2009 season.
Carroll is a known for the play of his safeties. In Seattle, he’s starting nearly from scratch, and Earl Thomas — the 14th overall pick — has a chance to be the starting free safety. Free-agent pickup Lawyer Milloy and Jordan Babineaux are competing for the strong safety job, and the loser of the battle might not make the roster.
Aaron  Curry is ready to come roaring back as a pash-rushing beast.
Aaron Curry is ready to come roaring back as a pash-rushing beast.

Breakout player

Aaron Curry, LB
Carroll requested film of Curry before he was even introduced at his first press conference. Curry (6-2, 254) is too big, fast and destructive to be the nonfactor he was when he went without a sack in his final nine games before missing the last two (hip) as a rookie. Expect that to change as Carroll assigns Curry a healthy dose of pass-rushing responsibilities.
“This year, I’m really focusing my job at the highest level of effort, the highest level of intensity. And just the highest level so it gets to the point where I’m making plays on the regular, (and) it’s no longer to the point where I’m chasing ’em.” — Curry

Opponent’s view

(An anonymous opponent breaks down the Seahawks)
“Matt Hasselbeck can play two more years definitely, and you kind of feel for him because his whole career, he was in one offense. He had it down cold, and now Seattle has changed that offense on him twice in two years. …

“For years, Seattle didn’t give the offense much of anything in the draft. The tight end, John Carlson, is the only playmaker the Seahawks have chosen over the past couple of years. …

“Among the receivers, you could say the best guy got away in Nate Burleson, but he hasn’t always been able to be trusted for precise routes.”

Bottom line

The Seahawks took a swan dive off the cliff of relevancy in 2008, and two years later they haven’t resurfaced. The decision to eschew free-agency fixes might play dividends down the road, but right now the Seahawks have too much work on both lines to imagine the team will bounce back this season. With Carroll, though, Seattle has a coach who’s intimately familiar with college players, which should give the Seahawks an edge in restocking what is a fairly barren roster.

Depth chart

QB: Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst FB: Owen Schmitt, Ryan Powdrell
RB: Julius Jones, Justin Forsett
WR: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Mike Williams
WR: Deion Branch, Golden Tate
TE: John Carlson, Chris Baker
LT: Russell Okung, Joe Toledo
LG: Ben Hamilton, Mike Gibson
C: Chris Spencer, Steve Vallos
RG: Max Unger, Mansfield Wrotto
RT: Sean Locklear, Ray Willis
DE: Red Bryant, Lawrence Jackson, E.J. Wilson
DT: Brandon Mebane, Craig Terrill
DT: Colin Cole, Kevin Vickerson
DE: Chris Clemons, Nick Reed
OLB: Leroy Hill, David Hawthorne
MLB: Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne
OLB: Aaron Curry, Will Herring
LCB: Marcus Trufant, Josh Wilson
SS: Jordan Babineaux, Lawyer Milloy, Kam Chancellor
FS: Earl Thomas, Jamar Adams
RCB: Kelly Jennings, Walter Thurmond
K: Olindo Mare
P: Jon Ryan
KR: Leon Washington
PR: Golden Tate
LS: Matt Overton