Clayton: Pete Carroll, John Schneider provide a clearer picture of Seahawks’ offseason at combine
The NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis allowed Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider to surface for their first interviews since the end of the regular season.
No definitive news surfaced, and that’s understandable. The Seahawks have until March 14, the start of free agency and the new league year, to make their major roster decisions. By then, the Seahawks have to be under the salary cap and be prepared to see what they need to do in free agency.
Here are a few things that came to light with the chances to talk to Carroll and Schneider.
• The Seahawks are in talks to re-sign defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. The team met with Richardson’s representatives on Thursday night and will continue to negotiate. Schneider did say there are no plans to use a franchise tag on Richardson as of Friday, but that could change. Richardson would cost Seattle $14.5 million with the franchise tag, so it’s more likely Richardson would hit free agency. If he leaves, the Seahawks could get a third-round compensatory pick for the 2019 NFL Draft.
• Brady Henderson of ESPN.com reported Thursday that defensive end Michael Bennett is being shopped in trade discussions. No surprise there. Bennett said after the season he didn’t expect to be back in 2018. Knowing that, it would only be fitting for the team to see what his value is in trade talks. He’s older, but he’s still a Pro Bowl player. However, with the Los Angeles Rams trading Robert Quinn, who is younger than Bennett, to the Miami Dolphins for a fourth-round pick, you would think it would be hard for the Seahawks to get a fourth or more for Bennett.
• If the Seahawks are going to trade All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, there was no indication of it this week. Carroll and Schneider emphasized how important Thomas is to the Seahawks defense and how great he is as a player. That could mean Thomas will still be around in 2018. Carroll said he was amazed at how well Thomas ran following his season-ending broken leg in 2016. Schneider said that Thomas is a difference-maker. If the Seahawks could only get a second-round pick and another draft choice in a trade for Thomas, it might be in their best interest to keep him.
• Schneider said roster decisions are all part of a big puzzle. The Seahawks have eight draft choices in 2018, but seven of them are in the final four rounds, including six combined in rounds five and seven. The first part of the puzzle is making major decisions with the core group on defense – who stays and who goes. The second part is finding ways to acquire picks in the second and third round, two rounds in which the Seahawks currently don’t have any picks.
• Carroll explained his decision to fire eight coaches, hire six and move two to different assignments on the staff as a way to get more out of the players. Missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record and a talented team led to the change. Carroll has always been loyal to his coaches, but he wanted some different things from his assistants to challenge the Seahawks players more.
• Even though Carroll made eight changes on the coaching staff, he’s not changing his philosophies. He wants the team to run the ball. That’s a major challenge for the Seahawks. Seattle is remaining a Cover One, Cover Three defense that has its cornerbacks play man coverage. Carroll wants a good pass rush. The formula has worked for years.
• The offensive line will block a little differently with Mike Solari in charge as opposed to Tom Cable. Cable runs more exotic zone blocking schemes than Solari, and while Solari uses plenty of zone blocking, he also likes more physical blocking. That could do good things for Duane Brown, Justin Britt and Germain Ifedi (if Ifedi moves to guard).
• If the Seahawks bring back free agent defensive back DeShawn Shead, they might play him at strong safety. Shead started his career as a safety and then moved to cornerback.
• The Seahawks are in talks with their 17 unrestricted free agents, and Carroll spoke highly of the play of safety Bradley McDougald.
• Both Schneider and Carroll feel great about the hiring of Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator. Carroll wanted one voice to direct quarterback Russell Wilson and a voice that will speak up if Wilson gets too far away from the scheme. Schneider has worked with Schottenheimer on several teams and respects his brains and coaching.
• Even though the Seahawks have the 18th pick in next month’s draft, there is still a great likelihood they will trade down to get more draft choices. This is a draft that has 10 running backs who might go in the first three rounds. It’s the best running back draft in more than a decade, though it is weak on edge pass rushers and it even weaker at tackle.