By Chris Cluff
Every season brings a few so-called reunion games, and the Seahawks certainly have more than their share this year.
They already have faced several teams with whom various members of the Hawks have connections: Arizona (Alan Branch), Green Bay (John Schneider, Matt Flynn, Breno Giacomini), New England (Pete Carroll), San Francisco (Michael Robinson).
And they will face a few more: Minnesota (Darrell Bevell and Sidney Rice), the Jets (Carroll and Leon Washington), Buffalo (Marshawn Lynch).
The Hawks have basically become the fifth member of the NFC North, with connections galore to the Packers, Vikings and their opponent this week, the Detroit Lions.
The Seahawks and Lions have been familiar trade partners over the last three years. In 2010, the Lions had six former Hawks on the team, and they still have four: Nate Burleson, Rob Sims, Lawrence Jackson and Will Heller.
Sims has been the Lions’ starting left guard, Jackson has been a big part of the line rotation and Burleson had been one of the top three receivers until he suffered a season-ending broken leg Monday in Chicago. Heller is the blocking tight end, behind Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.
Heller and Burleson signed as free agents, and Sims and Jackson were part of four trades between the two teams since 2009.
In March 2009, when both teams were under different administrations, Tim Ruskell sent linebacker Julian Peterson to Detroit for defensive lineman Cory Redding and a fifth-round pick, which was used to trade up in the third round for receiver Deon Butler.
When Schneider and Carroll arrived in 2010, they kept that pipeline alive with three deals. In April, they sent Sims and a seventh-round pick to Detroit for defensive end Robert Henderson (who didn’t make the team) and a fifth-round pick that turned out to be a pretty good player: safety Kam Chancellor.
In early August, the Hawks dumped Jackson, a former first-rounder who had played for Carroll at USC, for a 2011 sixth-round choice that became cornerback Byron Maxwell. While Maxwell has struggled with injuries, Jackson has been a good rotation guy on Detroit’s line (10.5 sacks in his first two seasons) and blocked a kick Monday against Chicago.
Just before the 2010 season, the Hawks — desperate for offensive line help — sent a 2012 seventh-round pick to the Lions for tackle Tyler Polumbus. It was a nice emergency move by Schneider as Polumbus started seven games for Seattle in 2010 and played in 20 before the Hawks let him in October 2011.
During the 2011 draft, Schneider turned Seattle’s second-round pick into a third and fourth while swapping fifth- and seventh-rounders with Detroit.
The Lions drafted running back Mikel Leshoure with the second-rounder (he missed his rookie season), and the Hawks ended up with guard John Moffitt (third round), receiver Kris Durham (fourth), cornerback Richard Sherman (fifth) and end Pep Levingston (seventh). Two starters weren’t a bad haul out of that trade, although Moffitt has been off the field as much as on it and the Hawks likely could have had Sherman with their original fifth-rounder, which was just three picks later.
Moffitt could return this week to face the team that enabled the Hawks to draft him, while Chancellor and Sherman will figure heavily in coverage of superstar receiver Calvin Johnson.
Meanwhile, Sims and Jackson should be motivated to play against Carroll and their old team.
That’s what happens in reunion games. And this is just another one for the Seahawks.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Seahawks news, see CBS Sports Seattle.
Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.