No worries: Seahawks' Hasselbeck 'totally cool' with Carroll regime

RENTON, Wash. -- If there ever was a time for three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to worry about his future, this is it.

New Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and new general manager John Schneider just traded for and gave big money to Hasselbeck's heir apparent.

Hasselbeck is 34 and coming off two dismal, injury-filled seasons. He's also entering the final year of his contract.

So why, despite signs that his nine-year run as Seattle's starting quarterback might end soon, is Hasselbeck calling his situation "great" and "totally cool"?

"Coach Carroll, he's a lot cooler than I thought. He's very cool," Hasselbeck said during Wednesday's minicamp. "But his team meetings that he runs are awesome. They are exciting. We've already had some Hollywood moments."

More personally, Hasselbeck appreciates the call he received from Carroll and Schneider last month before they swapped the Seahawks' second-round pick in next week's draft, plus a third-round choice in 2011, for San Diego Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.

The Seahawks then gave Whitehurst, who's seven years younger than Hasselbeck and has impressive physical skills but zero career passes in four NFL seasons, a two-year contract worth $8 million plus incentives.

"They kind of explained to me, 'Hey, listen, he's a young guy. We're going to bring him in. We want to make that (quarterbacks) room as good as possible,'" Hasselbeck said. "And Pete sort of laid out his general philosophy about ... how to win, and that's by competing and bringing out the best in each guy."

Hasselbeck said Carroll's command that he would push the Seahawks further than they've ever been sounded like the one that former coach Mike Holmgren gave to the team at the start of the quarterback's tenure in Seattle.

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Hasselbeck learned early in his career the lesson that NFL coaches and executives are constantly looking for a player who will do his job better than he's doing it, all to better the team.

Holmgren was the teacher.

Hasselbeck was a sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1998. He was thrilled to find at the end of the training camp that Holmgren had cut all the quarterbacks above him not named Brett Favre. Then, just when Hasselbeck thought he had made the Packers, the Chicago Bears cut Rick Mirer. Holmgren quickly signed Mirer to be Favre's backup.

That left Hasselbeck out of a job, too, shipped onto the Packers' practice squad.

"At an early part in my career, I learned that you are not just competing with the guys on your roster," Hasselbeck said. "You are competing with anybody in the world you can find. Anybody on another team. Somebody bagging groceries. Anybody. That's just how it is. And that's why this is such a competitive job.

"So it's no different (now). I think it's a great thing. I welcome it, the change."

As for Carroll's high-energy program taking root in Seattle?

"I love the philosophy. I'm all in," Hasselbeck said.

The quarterback is on his third offensive coordinator and head coach since the end of the 2008 season. Yet he said the terminology of new offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates is more like Holmgren's system. Bates is a protege of Jon Gruden, who was a protege of Holmgren. So it's far less foreign to Hasselbeck than what former coach Jim Mora and coordinator Greg Knapp installed for the failed 5-11 season of 2009.

Hasselbeck said the contract issue is moot to him because "I've always felt that if you just play football, focus on what happens between the lines, everything will take care of itself" in terms of future employment.

Hasselbeck also said he's healthy again for the first time since the end of the 2007 season. Since then, an aging and ineffective offensive line has left Hasselbeck with a bad back, broken ribs, bruised throwing shoulder and banged thumb. His statistics have suffered similarly: a career-high 17 interceptions last season, a career-low 52.2 completion percentage with five touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 2008, when he made it through just seven games.

That recent history led Carroll and his new open-competition regime to Whitehurst. And Hasselbeck insists that's fine with him.

"When you have changes at the top, the players know -- you need to know -- that you are on notice," Hasselbeck said. "Every job's open, and that's just how it is."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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