The Seahawks are expected to hire Ken Norton Jr. as their new defensive coordinator, according to the NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Norton previously acted as Seattle’s linebackers coach from 2010-14 before accepting a defensive coordinator position with the Raiders for the 2015 season.
Garafolo joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore shortly after the news broke Monday afternoon (listen to his full interview here), explaining how the Seahawks were able to get Norton, a former 49ers star, just a week after he joined San Francisco’s coaching staff.
“It did (come out of the blue),” Garafolo said Monday afternoon. “And it took a couple of hours today to try to figure out how this is going to happen … because you go, ‘Well, wait a minute, didn’t he just take a job with the 49ers?’
“From my understanding, he had a house he either just bought or really liked in the Bay Area, and going to the 49ers allowed him the opportunity to stay there … I don’t know that there was a specific clause (in his previous contract) that said Seattle only, but I do know that there was a clause that allowed him to get out to take a defensive coordinator job with the Seahawks.”
San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan released a statement Monday afternoon concerning Norton’s departure, per the San Francisco Chronicle’s Eric Branch:
Statement from #49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan on Ken Norton: "Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense. Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position.”
— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) January 15, 2018
The Seahawks have not yet announced a move regarding current defensive coordinator Kris Richard, though it was reported last week that Richard had been given the green light to vacate his contract.
Richard’s coaching style made the move to Norton all the more confusing to Garafolo.
“On one hand, I hear some people in that organization were not happy that some of these coaches were not holding these guys accountable enough for their mistakes,” Garafolo said. “I believe that was applicable to Tom Cable … Richard, to me, from what I was always told, he was a very stern position coach. If you made a mistake, he was going to work on the mistake and not let you skate.”
As for Norton’s style, Garafolo believes it will be more in line with head coach Pete Carroll’s, especially considering Norton first ended up with the Seahawks by following Carroll from USC to Seattle.
“I heard all kinds of things coming out of Oakland about (Norton’s) ability to call a defense, his ability to game plan and those things, those were the real question marks about him this past season,” Garafolo said. “It’s Pete’s defense. I truly do believe that. I believe, and I have not talked to Pete about this, but I believe that he probably feels like this is a guy that can come in and can relay my thoughts to these players and can work with me in formulating a gameplan that I forsee. It’s not like he’s going to have free reign with things as much as he did in Oakland.”
Norton’s rumored signing is the latest in a series of coaching moves for the Seahawks, who this year finished 9-7 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2011. The team relieved offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and offensive line coach Tom Cable of their duties last week. Brian Schottenheimer and Mike Solari are the reported replacements in those respective positions.