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GM John Schneider: Seahawks have ‘huge puzzle’ with contracts coming up for 3 stars

Seahawks GM John Schneider recapped Seattle's free agency Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle. (AP)

Seahawks general manager John Schneider and his wife, Traci, joined Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle Monday morning to talk about an upcoming charity event to benefit and support Ben’s Fund. Schneider also recapped Seattle’s offseason moves and previewed what’s expected to be a tricky 2019 draft.

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The Seahawks themselves in a unique situation this offseason. A franchise quarterback and All-Pro defensive leader will enter the final year of their respective deals, the team faces a July deadline for a long-term deal for their leading pass rusher, they’re battling in a division that includes the NFC Champions and a future No. 1 overall pick, and to top it all off, they’ll be working with just four picks in this month’s draft.

Schneider admittedly isn’t happy about the lack of picks – so much so that he requested a “Duane Brown” tag be added to second round section of the team’s draft board.

Eclipsing any conversation about Seattle’s lack of picks, though, is what the team plans to do about their franchise quarterback. Russell Wilson could be eyeing a deal worth nearly $35 million per year, which would make not only the league’s highest-paid player, but would result in him accounting for nearly 20 percent of the team’s salary cap. Schneider said that the head coach and quarterback are the two most important people in the building. But how much is too much when it comes to salary?

“It’s a blast because it’s a huge puzzle, right? Think of it like that. You have this huge puzzle, it’s sitting out there, it’s Thanksgiving or whatever, your family’s together, you’re going to try to put this thing together and you’re constantly working on it. So how are you going to fit it all together and how quickly can you do it? That’s the challenge of it. That’s what we do every year. Every offseason we have several guys that we like to extend and take care of, and we’d like some guys to be here a real long time and obviously our franchise quarterback is one of them.”

Asked whether it’s feasible to pay a franchise quarterback, middle linebacker, and defensive end top-of-the-market salaries, Schneider said yes – it’s just a “puzzle.”

“Yeah it is,” Schneider said. “But it’s challenging then (because) you’ve got to compensate in other areas, right? So you’ve got to figure out what’s your offensive line going to look like, what’s the defensive backfield going to look like? Several years ago people were like, ‘There’s no way you guys can keep Kam and Earl and Sherm, there’s no way that thing can stay together.’ … We just continued to work our process and work through it, and that worked out. So I see that happening the same way.”

More about Ben’s Fund

Inspired by their son, Ben, who was diagnosed with autism at age three, the Schneiders created Ben’s Fund in 2012. The organization, which will host an online auction April 2-11, provides grant opportunities for for Washington state families with children who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

“We always knew that we wanted to give back to the autism community because we knew how much of a financial struggle that is, and we lived – and we’re living – what other parents are going through,” Traci said Monday. “And we wanted to give back, not only financially, but also speaking about what it’s like as a parent and what it’s like as a family to have your child diagnosed with autism, and to create that support and awareness within the autism community. So we started Ben’s Fund and we give grants to families that live in the state of Washington that have a child with autism.”

The foundation originally supported families with children who have autism, though they’re now expanding to support young adults with autism.

“It’s been amazing to open up that world and to really support that young adult, that transitional time, because it’s so crucial. And we’re entering that with our son,” Traci said of Ben, who is now 17 years old. “So it’s been amazing…

“I mean it’s amazing to watch him be a young adult now. When he was diagnosed at three, we couldn’t get him to communicate with us, we couldn’t get him to talk to us, he would never tell us he was hungry or thirsty. We had to dissect and become this detective to try to figure out what was going on with him. And now–

“Yeah, he’s a normal teenager,” John said. “‘Dad, get away from me,’ you know, ‘Stop talking to me now, please. Can I have some alone time? I’m tired of you.’ Like yeah, there’s a lot of people that are tired of me, buddy.”

More information on Ben’s Fund.