By Danny O’Neil
RENTON – Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson may not have been on the field for the Seahawks’ final offseason workout, but he is in the team’s plans after signing a one-year contract with Seattle Thursday afternoon.
“I think it’s a great boost for us in a competitive sense,” coach Pete Carroll said after Thursday’s workout. “We thought of Tarvaris as a tremendously tough football player and competitive kid that battled for us.”
Jackson was Seattle’s starting quarterback in 2011, signed to replace Matt Hasselbeck coming out of the lockout. Seattle went 7-7 in games Jackson started despite the fact he played much of the season through a torn pectoral muscle, which he suffered in Week 5.
Jackson was part of Seattle’s three-way quarterback competition last year, but was traded to Buffalo on the same day rookie Russell Wilson was named the Seahawks’ starter.
The rationale for bringing Jackson back is easy. Here is a player who has six years of experience playing for Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, first in Minnesota and then here in Seattle. He also has the respect of Seattle’s locker room for the way he played through that injury in 2011 and the fact he was teammates with Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin in Minnesota.
What it means for Seattle’s future – and the employment status for Brady Quinn – remains to be seen. Carroll said Jackson will compete with Quinn to be Wilson’s backup.
“A really good battle for us to see what happens at that spot,” Carroll said.
It’s unlikely that Seattle would keep more than two quarterbacks on the roster once the regular season begins. Carroll was careful to point out that Jackson’s pending acquisition is no reflection upon Quinn’s performance in the two months since he was signed after spending last season in Kansas City.
“In the situation he is in, he has been next to perfect,” Carroll said of Quinn. “He has worked like crazy. He knows exactly what we’re asking of him. He’s a tremendous guy in the meetings room, on the practice field, supporting Russell’s efforts to figure out and he’s competed really well.”
Quinn is a former first-round pick who has played for three teams in his four seasons and has a career record of 4-16 as a starting quarterback. Seattle signed him after working him out along with veterans Seneca Wallace, Tyler Thigpen and Matt Leinart.
Whether Quinn sticks will depend on the head-to-head comparison with Jackson.
“It will be hard,” Carroll said. “It will be tough. That’s what competition is all about. T-Jack is not going to come in here and just take a back seat. He’s going to come in here and go for it. That’s exactly how we expect it across the board. It’s not different at quarterback.”
Jackson has played for three teams in his seven seasons and has a career record of 17-17. He was re-signed earlier this offseason by the Bills, who went so far as to offer a $500,000 signing bonus, but was released last week as Buffalo elected to pair Kevin Kolb with rookie E.J. Manuel heading into the season.
Now, Jackson’s former team in Seattle looks like it will be his future opportunity.
“We’re seizing the opportunity that one of our guys is out there,” Carroll said, “and we can bring him back in and he’ll be able to help us. T-Jack’s got a strong arm, he understands the system and he’s tough as nails. That’s a lot of good stuff.”
Loosening up at tight end
Tight end Zach Miller again sat out the team’s minicamp practice because of a sore foot, but he was out of the plastic protective boot he wore the past two days. Carroll said the injury was not considered serious, and while it was to the same foot that was hurt during the playoff loss at Atlanta, it is a different type of injury.
Tight end is one of the more precarious spots on the roster after the injury to Anthony McCoy, the backup who suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is on injured reserve. That leaves Sean McGrath, who was undrafted last year, and fifth-round pick Luke Willson as the top two backups.
Does Seattle need to add another tight end?
“We’re always looking at all spots,” Carroll said.
That doesn’t mean Seattle will find something better than what it has on hand, though.
“We like what we’ve seen,” Carroll said. “McGrath has made a really obvious elevation. His offseason work has really shown up. He’s really stronger and quicker.
“Luke has done a really good job. We’re really excited about Luke’s addition. We don’t see anything that Luke can’t do. We haven’t seen him in pads yet to really understand the dynamics of his blocking. We know that he’s willing and he’s got a tough attitude and he looked great in college.
“We’re always looking, though.”
Defensive end Cliff Avril took part in his first full-team drills on Thursday after being limited to individual position activities on Tuesday and Wednesday. Avril has been slowed by plantar fasciitis this offseason, something that had not bothered him previously.
“I’ve had issues with the foot,” Avril said. “But I’ve never really had what I had this offseason. But I’m bouncing back from it. It’s feeling good.”
Running back Robert Turbin sat out the last two days of the minicamp with a sore foot, something Carroll characterized as more precautionary. He said Turbin wanted to practice, but the team held him out.
Cornerback Walter Thurmond was absent from Thursday’s workout, excused to attend a ceremony.