"We looked at the films -- he has played extensively in the preseason -- the kinds of throws he's made, the defenses he played against, all kinds of situations," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said during Thursday's news conference to introduce Whitehurst. "We thought we accumulated enough information.
"The fact that he is such a good athlete, that he runs so well, he has very good feet, good speed for the quarterback position, we think he enhances the style of play we want to put out there."
Whitehurst, a restricted free agent, replaces former backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, whom the Seahawks traded to the Cleveland Browns last week. Whitehurst played in two games during his rookie season, but he didn't attempt a pass, and he has been inactive for every game in each of the last three years.
"I think I can move a little bit. I think I can make the throws. I think I can lead the team and think we can win. I certainly have some things to work on. I don't have a ton of experience in game situations. I understand that. That's where I have to make up pretty soon and convince everybody this was the right thing to do. That's what I plan on doing."
This is the first major decision for new Seahawks general manager John Schneider, who was hired Jan. 19 to turn around a franchise that has posted a 9-23 record over the past two seasons.
"When you see something like this available," Schneider said, "you have to take your shot."
Carroll, who replaced head coach Jim Mora in January, said "for our situation, we think we're getting a guy ahead of a college guy coming out.
"He certainly has not been on the football field, but he's in those meeting rooms, on the practice field, he's in on the strategy on game day. All those things add up," Carroll said. "There's always risk involved when you make decisions like this. But our research and our background in making a trade of this nature, we felt he had the elements put together in a process that allows us to make a confident, solid decision. We're not looking over our shoulder on this deal."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.