SEATTLE -- When former Monroe and Fort Valley State star Ricardo Lockette was asked Tuesday if he was excited about joining the Seattle Sehawks and the prospect of having longtime NFL starter Matt Hasselbeck throwing to him, Lockette paused before answering.
"Well," he began, "if he's still there (when I get there). I'm not sure if he's coming back from what I just heard."
As Lockette waited to catch his flight from Atlanta to Seattle on Tuesday, news was breaking at that very moment that Seattle had signed former Vikings backup Tavaris Jackson and was interested in former Cardinals backup and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, all but signaling the end of Hasselbeck's time with the Seahawks.
The Seattle Times first reported Jackson's agreement.
Reports surfaced Tuesday afternoon that the Seahawks told Hasselbeck he was no longer in their future plans. Yahoo! Sports first reported the Hasselbeck decision on Twitter. Hasselbeck and his agent did not return messages left by the AP.
The decision to move on from Hasselbeck contradicted Seattle coach Pete Carroll's pronouncement in January that re-signing Hasselbeck was Seattle's No. 1 priority. The two sides could not reach an agreement before the NFL lockout.
Hasselbeck spent the past 10 seasons in Seattle and for much of that time was the face of the franchise. He took the Seahawks to their only Super Bowl appearance and captained Seattle to five division titles. He leaves as the team's all-time leader in numerous passing categories.
But the signs that Hasselbeck's time in Seattle could be coming to a close started a year ago when the team acquired Charlie Whitehurst from San Diego. Whitehurst was supposed to challenge Hasselbeck for the job before the 2010 season, but his only two starts last season came in games Hasselbeck was injured. One of those starts was the season finale when Seattle beat St. Louis 16-6 to wrap up the NFC West title with a 7-9 record.
Hasselbeck then seemed to affirm his importance to the franchise by leading Seattle to a stunning NFC first-round playoff upset of New Orleans before the Seahawks lost to Chicago in the NFC divisional playoff. After that loss, Carroll said the Seahawks' No. 1 priority was re-signing Hasselbeck.
But it won't be Hasselbeck back under center when the season begins on Sept. 11 at San Francisco.
Whitehurst was one of the first Seahawks to arrive at their training facility on Tuesday morning after catching a late flight back to the Northwest and not getting to his apartment until about 1 a.m. Still, he was driving through the gates of Seahawks headquarters shortly after 8 a.m. ready to pick up his playbook.
"You're more experienced; it goes for all of us. There were a bunch of new guys this past season," Whitehurst said. "I think everybody is probably feeling pretty confident about this season."
Instead of Whitehurst battling Hasselbeck for the starting job, it'll be Jackson. Later in the day, after learning the reports of Hasselbeck's departure, Whitehurst seemed to realize his chance.
"It's as good an opportunity as I'm going to get and I'm looking forward to it," he said.
In Minneapolis, Jackson was ushered aside most of the last two seasons in favor of Brett Favre. Now he'll get a fresh start in Seattle and be reunited with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who is in charge of revamping Seattle's passing game. Bevell spent the previous five seasons as Minnesota's offensive coordinator.
Rust might be a problem for Jackson. He's played in just 11 games and started only once the past two seasons after making 17 starts during the 2007 and '08 seasons.
Hasselbeck had been instrumental in organizing offseason workouts for players in the Seattle area and working with the University of Washington on using their facilities. Some players had been extremely outspoken on Twitter in urging the Seahawks to re-sign the veteran QB.
"Gotta say thanks for giving me a chance to get my career rolling," Seahawks receiver Mike Williams wrote to Hasselbeck on Twitter Tuesday afternoon. "U'll always Rep the 12th, see u in the Ring of Honor sir."
Rich Moran, the agent for Seahawks offensive lineman Stacy Andrews, confirmed Tuesday his client has been informed he will be released. Andrews was scheduled to make $5.25 million this season, but was likely to be a backup after Seattle drafted linemen James Carpenter and John Moffitt.
The Seahawks also agreed to terms with 19 undrafted free agents on Tuesday. Highlighting the list was Boise State safety Jeron Johnson, Nebraska safety Rickey Thenarse and Nebraska defensive end Pierre Allen.