INDIANAPOLIS — Seattle general manager John Schneider doesn’t see a “window” closing on the Seahawks, but he did see a need to hit the reset button this offseason.
“We’ve created a high standard, and that’s the fun challenge,” Schneider said at the Scouting Combine on Friday. “We went 9-7 last year and you would have thought we won two games. It’s a pit that sticks in your stomach and really fuels you.”
After missing out on the playoffs on the final week of the season, the Seahawks parted with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Kris Richard and highly-respected offensive line coach Tom Cable.
“It just seemed like it was time,” Schneider said of shaking up the coaching staff. “It’s a fun challenge. Kind of a reset. How did we get here?”
They also face a slew of critical offseason decisions with defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and tight end Jimmy Graham among the team’s pending free agents, strong safety Kam Chancellor and defensive end Cliff Avril trying to recover from career-threatening knee injuries, and free safety Earl Thomas threatening to hold out if he doesn’t get a new contract.
There are also several key players recovering from season-ending injuries, and a limited amount of cap space to work with entering free agency. Seattle has eight draft picks, but no second- or third-round picks after acquiring Richardson and left tackle Duane Brown last season.
“We went for it, and we always will,” Schneider said of the trades made in an attempt to elevate the Seahawks into a contender last season. “We’re not afraid of anything.”
Schneider and coach Pete Carroll are in Indianapolis this week to watch the workouts and talk personally with dozens of the 300-plus athletes invited to the Combine. But he said the event has evolved over the past 10 years, and now equates it to football’s version of the Winter Meetings.
In addition to the on-field workouts and private meetings, Schneider is talking to player agents and front office personnel from the other 31 teams. Asked specifically about rumors about defensive lineman Michael Bennett being on the trade market and whether there is anyone untouchable on the Seahawks’ roster, Schneider laughed and said, “Not this time of year.”
“We’re just constantly talking to people all the time. You want to be in every conversation, but you want to be able to walk away,” he said.
Schneider said he does not see the team using its franchise tag on Richardson “at this time,” and would say only that Thomas “is under contract” when asked about his desire for a new contract. The organization doesn’t discuss contracts as a policy, but Schneider underscored the need to get back to the mentality he and Carroll brought to the franchise in 2009.
The pair drafted a bevvy of young talent that went on to play in two Super Bowls and reach the postseason in six of the previous seven seasons until 2017. During that span, those young players turned into established veterans, making it difficult for the team to draft players who could make a significant impact. Schneider and Carroll now see an opportunity to shake up the norm while keeping a championship-caliber product on the field.
“It’s like a constant puzzle, you’re trying to put stuff together all the time,” he said. “It’s a constant process. I feel like we’ve been running since 2009.”
–By Derek Harper, Field Level Media