Why not?

That has become the prevailing attitude over the Seahawks' decision to sign Terrell Owens.

He's on a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, which constitutes a flier not an investment. He's in great shape, and for all the problems attributed to him, a lack of production has never been among them. Not only that, but receiver is the single biggest bare spot on the team's roster.

So why not?

My question is a little different: Why now?

Because Owens has been available for a while now. He was also on the market two years ago when Seattle had just as many uncertainties about its receivers, and the Seahawks didn't do so much as bring him in for a workout.

And now that Seattle stands on the brink of a season in which it truly hopes to contend for a playoff spot, you parachute a player in on the hope of a short-term boost?

This is fundamentally different than the M.O. the Seahawks used for the first two years under coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider. Back then, moves were made with an eye toward long-term stability.

The Seahawks were trying to get younger, faster and stronger. They weren't trying to catch lightning in a bottle with a recycled veteran. Not usually any way. Of course there were exceptions. They signed former first-round pick Mike Williams and watched him lead the team in receptions. They gave Reggie Williams a look, too. They brought in Tarvaris Jackson to see if a fresh start in a new city would allow him to take the next step and become a viable starting quarterback for a playoff contender.

But what Seattle has down over the past three months has been different, a change that I think began with the acquisition of tight end Kellen Winslow from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here was a player with an impressive track record, being cast off by his former team, and the Seahawks saw someone who would fit right away. Then came the casting call for wide receivers: Antonio Bryant, Braylon Edwards and now Owens.

These aren't pieces of the foundation, they're finishing touches. A team looking for a player or two to put them over the top, and it's not an accident that it's happening on offense where Seattle ranked No. 28 in the league last year.

Not only that, but receiver is the one position that wasn't addressed in the offseason. Well, not other than the surgeries starting flanker Sidney Rice underwent on both shoulders. He's recovering, but he's also missed more games than he played the past two seasons, and Golden Tate is a strong candidate to start at split end and he has yet to catch more than 35 passes in a season.

So Seattle is looking for veteran help. It's not paying top-shelf prices so much as looking through the bargain bin of players marked: "As is."

Coach Pete Carroll was asked Tuesday if the addition of Owens meant he saw his team in a different position than two years ago when Owens was a free agent.

"Maybe," Carroll said.

Now, Carroll was just making it clear he wasn't engaging in the question, but when you put Owens' arrival in context with the recent moves, I think it makes it pretty clear the Seahawks believe they're on the brink of something, and they're looking for a player or two to get them over the top.