Despite having appeared in only two games in his career and never having attempted a pass in four seasons, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst is arguably the hottest player on the restricted free-agent market.
At a time when the pursuit of restricted players is more talk than action, Whitehurst, 27, this week visited Arizona and Seattle, and both teams are seriously interested in signing the former Clemson standout (and son of one-time NFL quarterback David Whitehurst) to an offer sheet. In fact, although both clubs also visited with Derek Anderson, the former Cleveland starter who was released this week, word is that both prefer Whitehurst to the Browns' one-time Pro Bowl passer.
Whitehurst was San Diego's third-round pick in 2006, and he carries a tender level with third-round compensation. Would either the Cardinals or Seahawks be able to land a quarterback of Whitehurst's caliber in the third round this year, when not even the most informed scouts have determined the identity of the lottery's best prospect after Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen? Probably not.
Arizona actually has an extra third-round pick, courtesy of the Anquan Boldin trade, while Seattle has a hole in the round, which could be a problem for Seahawks officials.
The Cardinals apparently want Whitehurst to push Matt Leinart, the presumptive starter with the retirement of Kurt Warner, but a guy to whom coach Ken Whisenhunt won't simply hand the No. 1 job. The Seahawks are looking to replace the oft-injured Matt Hasselbeck, probably after one more season.
Whitehurst has spent plenty of time apprenticing under the knowledgeable Norv Turner, and with Philip Rivers as a mentor as well. Whitehurst's lack of playing time aside, he's still only 27 and plays a position at which guys might not develop until later in their careers. He is blessed with smarts, a strong arm and impeccable bloodlines. With the restricted market apt to perk up soon, keep a keen eye on the pursuit of the unproven-but-still-popular Whitehurst in coming days.