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John Schneider: Reading between the lines

By Danny O’Neil

Sometimes you have to read into what someone says to find the most revealing answers. And as John Schneider begins his fourth season as Seattle’s general manager, we do our best to decipher what he really meant during Wednesday’s press conference setting up this year’s draft.

(Editor’s note: No translation is ever perfect so please take Danny O’Neil’s interpretations of what Schneider meant with the grain of humor with which they were intended.)

Actual question: What are you guys going to do for the first round of the draft next Thursday?
What Schneider actually said: “We’re going to just sit and watch how it comes off. We’ll be there. We talked about not being there, but (someone) won’t let us. He didn’t think it was a good idea, our idea, what we wanted to do, was not cool with him. So we’re not going to do it.”

What Schneider meant: Dude, we were talking about going to a bar. This pub over on the other side of the freeway. They’ve got some mean chicken wings. And beer. Wouldn’t it have been hilarious when ESPN or the NFL Network flashed to the camera in our war room, all you’d see was an empty room, maybe a cricket or three chirping. But somebody decided that might not be a good look. So we’ll sit there and try to look interested while we see how many Diet Cokes the assistant offensive line coach, Pat Ruel, can chug in an hour.

What Schneider actually said: “We want to see really how this thing is going to come off because I think you’re going to see a certain run on players, and then that will help us kind of figure out what’s going to happen in the second round. No. 56 is a very hard place to try to figure out what’s going to be there. I think we’re getting closer, but I was texting my old boss – Ron Wolf – last night, and I was like, ‘OK, 56, how many players do I need?’ That’s a joke. Weird humor for you guys I know. No idea what I’m talking about.”

What Schneider meant: We’ll start getting a better idea of who we won’t have a chance to pick, but let’s be honest, we’re going to have to wait a while even on Friday before we get to our pick. In the meantime, we may as well get used to telling bad jokes. We’re going to have plenty of time to crack them.

What Schneider actually said: “It’s very hard for us to say who the top five players are in this draft. We know who we think they are, but when you look at this draft, it’s very unique. It’s the most unique draft – and honest to God – I’m not just saying this because we don’t have a first-round draft choice this year. I felt that way a little bit when we made the deal with Percy (Harvin), but now the closer we’ve gotten to this thing, it’s really kind of stood out that the first round, there’s just a wide variety of players and it’s really going to be your favorite flavor of ice cream.”

What Schneider meant: Want to know why we traded our first-round pick? Well, look at the rest of the first round. We’re a week out from the draft and no one can say for certain who the top overall pick is and if a quarterback is going to go in the top 10. You think we were going to get someone capable of starting for us at No. 25? Was the chance that we would worth passing on an opportunity to acquire a receiver who’s still 24 years old.

Actual question: John, what you’ve been able to do so far in the offseason, how does that impact for the draft?

What Schneider actually said: “I’d be lying to if I said it doesn’t because we build our board off of our team. We don’t build it for the league. It’s impacted at least on each position and how we think people will compete on certain positions with the guys that are currently on the roster or the guys we project may not be on the roster in 2014.”

What Schneider meant: Yeah, after committing more than $12 million to Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett in 2013, it kind of alleviates the urgency to draft a pass-rusher, you know. And we got that whole kickoff return thing taken care of, too. Some guy named Harvin. Good hands. Fierce runner. If we’re into that sort of thing, which we are. So drafting a receiver? Maybe, but we don’t have to.

Actual question: Quarterbacks usually take so much of a team’s cap space, and you’re spending so little on that position. How much of an opportunity does that create for you to try to take advantage of that before someone like Russell Wilson comes up for a contract?

What Schneider actually said: “We don’t have like a Drew Brees contract in here right now or a Tony Romo contract or one of those guys – obviously that gives us more wiggle room to, say, help out our pass rush.”

What Schneider meant: The fact that this season Russell Wilson is making for the year what Romo will make in a little more than a half does play to our advantage.

Actual question: As you’re adding free agents in 2013, how much are you balancing that with cap space for the young core guys you’re going to want to re-sign down the road?

What Schneider actually said: “Everything we do is incorporated with that. We have certain models that we build, and I think I told everyone, our first model included Matt Flynn. So we’re able to use that for something else down the road. I almost gave it to you.”

What Schneider meant: Whoa, I almost slipped up and said the decision to let go of Flynn paved the way to give someone like safety Kam Chancellor a contract extension.