Seahawks’ Pete Carroll on future of Wilson and Wagner, coaching changes
For the first time since shortly after the 2021 season ended, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll spoke to the media about his team.
Many were interested in hearing from Carroll not only because of the seemingly never-ending rumors about his star quarterback being traded, but also because of some major shakeup to his coaching staff.
Carroll covered plenty in his 23-minute press conference at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine, and here’s what stood out.
Russell Wilson trade rumors
Russell Wilson’s future in Seattle has been debated and discussed for years now, but rumors intensified last offseason when the star quarterback made it clear he was unhappy with how often he was hit by opposing defenses and that he didn’t have as much of a say in personnel matters as he’d like. Wilson and his camp later gave ESPN’s Adam Schefter a list of four teams Wilson would consider waiving his no-trade clause to.
Eventually the talks died down and both Wilson and the Seahawks made it clear they wanted their relationship to continue. That’s been the case this offseason, with Wilson reiterating repeatedly he wants to stay in Seattle.
But many teams are searching for a franchise quarterback and Wilson’s name, naturally, keeps coming up.
Carroll was asked if the Seahawks were getting calls about Wilson, who is under contract through 2023.
“At this time of year, there’s conversations about everybody. We’re talking to everybody, and that’s commonplace for us to have conversations with teams about all of the players, particularly marquee players, and that hasn’t changed,” Carroll said. “It’s been the same every year we’ve been here … We have no intention of making any move there (with Wilson). But the conversations, (general manager John Schneider) has to field those, he always has. But nothing specific to that.”
Later, off camera, Carroll told reporters that Schneider is telling teams that call about Wilson that he isn’t available (H/T Bob Condotta, Seattle Times.
Later in the day, Schneider told reporters that he isn’t getting “constant calls” about Wilson, but “I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t listen” to calls from other teams and “blew people off.” But he, like Carroll, said Wilson isn’t going anywhere. (H/T Condotta)
Bobby Wagner’s future
Wilson isn’t the only team captain whose future is being widely discussed.
Fellow 2012 draftmate Bobby Wagner, a perennial All-Pro linebacker, has just one year remaining on his deal and has a cap hit over $20 million for 2022, though the Seahawks can save over $16 million by cutting or trading him.
Carroll made it clear he wants Wagner on the team next year.
“We expect to play with Bobby. We love playing with Bobby,” Carroll said. “He’s been a great player and had another great season. At this time of year, there’s a lot of guys that are in a position where we’ve got to figure out how everybody fits together, and Bobby has been such a steady part of it. We’d love to be able to play with him, so we’ll work towards that if we can do that.”
Defensive coaching changes
Carroll made a big decision shortly after the season ended when he let go of longtime assistant Ken Norton Jr., who’d spent the last four years as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. Additionally, Carroll fired defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis.
Norton was replaced by Clint Hurtt, who was the Seahawks’ defensive line coach/assistant head coach from 2017-21. Curtis’ role was filled by former Minnesota Vikings and Alabama defensive backs coach Karl Scott. Additionally, Hurtt reunited with former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai, hiring him as an associate head coach. Desai worked with Hurtt in Chicago for three years before coming to Seattle.
Carroll said it was hard to part ways with Norton, but added that he’s very excited about his new-look coaching staff.
“What we did do is we made a really significant move in giving Clint Hurtt this opportunity to be the defensive coordinator,” Carroll said. “He has been a big factor on our staff since he’s been with us. He has been a guy I’ve leaned on all the time. We made him assistant head coach to help me with all of the challenging team decisions that we make that do affect the defensive side of the ball, but both sides of the football,”
Carroll described Hurtt as being a “great thinker” and “creative.”
“The reason that I liked hiring him when we did was because of the people that he had worked with and worked under,” Carroll said. “It gave him a really diverse approach to the game and he learned real well.”
With Hurtt running the show and Scott and Desai having prominent roles on the defensive coaching staff, Carroll is excited to see how that unit operates in 2022.
“There’s going to be a strong influence on our side of the ball on defense that will take us in some places that I’ve been really hoping to get to,” he said. “We’ve been making our moves subtly, but now we can make it more significantly. I think our players are gonna really like it.”
Carroll reiterated that the Seahawks have run a 4-3 defense with 3-4 personnel for years, and that they’ll be able to do both going forward.
“We’re gonna look like a 3-4 team at times and will be a 4-3 team at times. We’ll use both both aspects of that approach,” he said.
Carroll also admitted that the Seahawks have been “a little bit arrogant in how we play defense” in recent years.
“We’ve been able to do it and just go ahead and play what we want to play,” he said. “It’s not it’s not that time right now. It’s time to keep moving and keep growing.”
WR Dee Eskridge’s role
The Seahawks made a league-low three picks in the 2021 NFL Draft and used their first selection to add speedy receiver Dee Eskridge to the mix.
Eskridge, a second-round pick out of Western Michigan, was expected to have a big role in Seattle’s offense, but he missed some time in training camp with a toe injury and then suffered a concussion in Week 1 that kept him out of action for seven games.
All in all, Eskridge caught 10 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 59 yards on four carries in 10 games as a rookie.
Carroll said he’s counting on Eskridge to be a “big, big part of what we’re doing.”
“He showed us enough in the mini camp when he first got started but then he got banged up, so he had a very challenging beginning with us and he never really did get caught up like he could have been,” Carroll said. “… He’s really talented, explosive, smart, tough. He’ll be involved in the kicking game and return game in time. We didn’t quite get to that (in 2021). He was prepared to – he was a backup all along. So I think he’ll be a significant part of the offense in that we can do a lot of stuff with him.”
Carroll also provided four quick injury updates for four of the team’s more notable players.
WR DK Metcalf (foot)
DK Metcalf battled a foot injury all season long in 2021. It didn’t cost Metcalf any games, but the injury did limit how often he practiced. Metcalf posted on social media recently that he got surgery on his foot, and Carroll gave some more information on what happened and his 2021 season.
“They fixed a surgery that he had in his foot a couple of years back and they just had to go in there and adjust some stuff in his foot,” Carroll said. “It bothered him all year long. That’s why I told you that we were not able to practice him (as much). He practiced one day a week and a couple walkthroughs. We always had to be guarded just to maintain his progress, which is not what was best for him. He needed to be working, he needed to be out there. It would have helped us and helped himself, too. He knew it, we all knew it, there’s just nothing we could do about it. He did everything he could, and he did admirably, remarkably well.”
FS Quandre Diggs (leg/ankle)
While Quandre Diggs isn’t technically a member of the Seahawks as the Pro Bowl safety is set to hit free agency in a few weeks, Carroll made it clear that Diggs, who broke his leg and dislocated his ankle in the final game of the year, should be ready for training camp, and that he hopes that camp is with Seattle.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt. That’s all he’s thinking about. He’ll be back before then, I would think,” Carroll said. “(What I’ve heard) really was positive and we really want to get him back (signed with us).”
CB Tre Brown (knee)
The Seahawks got a big boost in the secondary in the middle of the season when fourth-round rookie Tre Brown came along after starting the year on injured reserve with a knee sprain that kept him sidelined during training camp.
When Brown returned, he quickly emerged as a starter on the outside, starting three games (appearing in five total) and playing very well opposite D.J. Reed. Unfortunately, Brown injured his knee in Week 11, tearing his patellar tendon and ending his season.
“He got a knee fixed that he needed to have fixed,” Carroll said. “It was an issue that he had going in. So he’ll be better than he was coming into camp. So look for that.”
RB Chris Carson (neck)
After rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 2019, Chris Carson’s production took a dip in 2020 as he missed four games, but the Seahawks re-signed the big back to a two-year deal in free agency.
Carson rushed for 208 yards and added 59 yards and a touchdown through the air in the first four weeks of 2021, but that was all he’d play as his season was over due to a neck injury that required surgery.
Carroll is hopeful and optimistic Carson will be ready to contribute next season.
“His workouts are going well. He’s in good spirits. He’s looking forward to playing and getting back and all that,” Carroll said. “Anytime you have a neck surgery, it’s obviously very intricate and all and we’ve got to see how that works out. You know how much I’ve always loved Chris. I’d love to get them back if we can get him back.”
Watch and listen to Carroll’s full press conference at this link.