What went into the ‘dismantling’ of the Seahawks?

Apr 18, 2018, 3:25 PM

richard sherman, seahawks...

The Seahawks released veteran CB Richard Sherman this March. (AP)


Five years ago, the Seahawks were the league’s most promising young team. Fresh off of a dominant Super Bowl win, with starters locked into their contracts, Seattle looked the part of a perrenial contender – and for the most part, they have been. The Seahawks finished the 2017 season 9-7 and missed the playoffs, but it was their first time missing the postseason since 2011. And until four months ago, Seattle was one of a handful of NFL teams with five consecutive 10-plus win seasons and postseason appearances.

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This year, though, the Seahawks have seen the biggest turnover, ever, under John Schneider and Pete Carroll. Gone now are Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, and potentially Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Cliff Avril. The dismantling of Seattle’s team has been particularly fascinating to Sports Illustrated columnist Greg Bishop, who joined 710 ESPN Seattle Wednesday to talk about the factors he believes have contributed to this now-dramatically different squad.

“To watch it be dismantled in real time, with Twitter and social media in 2018, to me its fascinating,” Bishop said. “And Earl [Thomas] in particular because I think the reason you still see him on that roster right now is because he’s the best player right now, at this time, of all the guys that they’ve either jettisoned, traded, or let walk. And I think that presents them a conundrum, because there aren’t too many safeties in the league that have Earl’s range, that have his speed, that can cover as much of the field as he does, freeing up other defenders to use in your scheme. I just think that makes it tricky, even if what he did with [Cowboys coach Jason Garrett] was 100 percent wrong and obviously didn’t go over well. And you are remaking this historically good unit. To me, it’s a real conundrum for a guy like John Schneider to be able to figure out what to do there.”

Schneider is without a second- or third-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, which is set to kick off April 26. A potential trade of All Pro safety Earl Thomas has been floating around for several weeks, though is unsurprisinly gaining steam ahead of next Thursday. Thomas is one of Seattle’s longest-tenured players, and one of the key veterans from their back-to-back Super Bowl rosters.

What’s behind all the recent changes?

“I think there’s a couple things in play there,” Bishop said. “I think one of them is, you’ve got to look at the end of Pete’s tenure in New England. There were reports, and I’ve had guys tell me, that he sort of lost the room. Guys stopped showing up to meetings, they stopped listening to the message. I was with Michael Bennett all fall last year, and the story never ran unfortunately, but he was telling me he read books during team meetings last year because he’d heard Carroll say the same thing over and over for seven years.

“I think the idea behind that is that in some ways your message can get stale when you’re dealing with the same people year after year after year. I think also they were so far up against the cap last year that they’re letting Dwight Freeney go to save a couple hundred thousand dollars a week. I think they needed some flexibility there to address what we’ve talked about on this program a few million times: the offensive line. They still have two cornerstones if they want to build around them on both sides of the ball; you’ve got Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner. And I think that there’s this idea that teams have windows, players get older, teams dismantle and life goes on. It’s just interesting because this group was so good.”

Hear Greg Bishop’s entire conversation with Brock and Salk here.

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