John Schneider, General Manager of the Seattle Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll celebrates after their 43-8 victory over the Denver Broncos during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
by Curtis Crabtree
RENTON - Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider sat down with reported to preview the NFL Draft on Wednesday. However, Schneider also answered some questions outside the scope of the draft that yielded some new information as well.
Schneider said that WR Sidney Rice is "absolutely" expected to be ready to go for the start of the regular season in September. Rice was released by Seattle and re-signed to a lesser contract this offseason. He is recovering from a torn ACL suffered against the St. Louis Rams in October.
The team has not yet made a decision whether to exercise the fifth-year option on G James Carpenter.
Seattle has until Saturday to pick up the option on Carpenter's contract for the 2015 season. While it is guaranteed for injury only until the first day of the 2015-16 league year, it seems unlikely the Seahawks would pick up the option as it would pay Carpenter the average of the 3rd highest through 25th highest salary for offensive linemen.
WR Doug Baldwin has until Friday to sign an offer sheet with another team after being tendered a contract by Seattle as a restricted free agent. The second round tender is worth $2.187 million for next season, If Baldwin were to sign with another team, the Seahawks would get a second round draft pick in compensation.
Schneider said he is not sure whether Baldwin plans to sign his tender with the team. He also said he's "not sure" when a contract extension with CB Richard Sherman will be completed.
Schneider said that QB Terrelle Pryor is a quarterback with the Seahawks and there aren't any plans for him to play another position.
I just don’t know that. I really don’t," Schneider said. "The fantasy football guy in me is like ‘yeah, if Kordell Stewart can do it.’ 6-5 and a half, 245 pounds running a 4.36, phenomenal athlete. … Right now, he’s learning the quarterback position and it’s not even an option (to play elsewhere).”
Schneider wouldn't comment on reported offseason surgeries for S Kam Chancellor and T Russell Okung.
"I'm not going to get into that right now," Schneider said. "That's not something I want to discuss. I think that I would like to just not talk about it. I just don't think it's appropriate right now."
Schneider said they have not decided whether to replace the role vacated by the departure of Scot McCloughan from the front office. Seattle did hire former Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland as a draft consultant, but haven't decided whether to keep him beyond the draft either.
DT Jordan Hill, DT Jesse Williams and CB Tharold Simon all battled injuries in their rookie seasons. However, Schneider said all should be ready for the start of next season.
Full Pre-Draft Press Conference Transcript:
(On taking a long-term focus in the draft) “We’re always grading for our team, we’re not grading for the league. We’re trying to project who’s going to be here, who’s not going to be here, who they’ll be competing with. Yes, two years. I think you saw last year was a prime example of that. Luke did a great job. We had a specific role with him in mind, and our coaching staff did a great with him. But I think you saw a number of other picks in there that were more projections for the 2014 season.”
(On if philosophy changes with bigger contracts in play now) “No because I think it’s a great opportunity for us to continue to do it the way we’ve been doing it and the way we‘ve built it, which is with young people and competing at every position at the highest level we possibly can and never shutting the door on anything.”
(On projecting market value of players) “Towards the end of our process we try to recap and focus on how much interest these guys have had from other teams and where based on previous history or certain teams track records where they would go in the draft or who would be moving to get them. For instance, San Francisco, Green Bay, New England, Philadelphia are teams since 2011 have traded the most so you know those teams are willing and open to move around.”
(On the extra two weeks of preparation for the draft has been valuable) “Not necessarily no. We’ve organized our time in a different manner. We’ve scheduled things a little bit differently, but quite honestly it doesn’t feel like it’s going to get here fast enough. It’s been a long process.”
(On if extra time was beneficial for Seattle having played into February) “For us, yes, because I personally felt like I was behind. Our staff wasn’t behind. Our scouts and everybody was on top of their game and ready. But I didn’t feel like I was totally caught up. That’s a great period right there of getting caught up. I’d rather do it this way.”
(On Jeff Ireland) “Just an experienced draft guy on draft day in there. Who likes to do what, what would you be thinking here, where would you want to move, what’s been your previous experience? That’s really it. He went all throughout the fall and scouted as well. He just wasn’t part of our initial meetings. He’s part of these meetings that we’re having right now which is kind of a wrap up leading to the coaches coming in and giving their opinions and then us setting our final board.”
(On why he brought in Ireland) “We’ve been friends for a long time. I worked with him in Kansas City for three years. We talk all the time. It’s funny for us. It’s really weird. We were talking the other night. We were just openly talking about players whereas for the last 15 years we’ve been, Do you like this guy? Kinda. You? Kinda. It’s actually really fun and refreshing. He’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I was BSing you about that guy. I did like him a lot better than I said.’ And I’m like, ‘I knew you were going to take (Ryan) Tannehill.’ ‘No you didn’t.’ ‘Yeah, I did.’”
(Of if Ireland will have a role post draft) “No, I don’t know that. I really don’t. Actually, we don’t even do our evaluations of our staff until the draft is over. We can kind of take a deep breath for a day and then sit down and do an evaluation.”
(On if Scot McCloughan’s role will be replaced) “We haven’t decided yet. I think we’ll talk about it. That’s about all I can say right now. I don’t know if it’s that specific position. That was really an over the top, national college scouting position. And right now, Scott Fitterer, myself and Scot McLoughan were doing that. This last year we included Matt Berry and Ed Dodds did more of that as well, two of our more experienced scouts. Kind of expanded them. They got done with their area and then do a cross-check, kind of going over the top.”
(On strength of the draft) “It’s interesting. I’ve heard people say it’s the deepest draft in 10 years. I think people said that initially because there were so many juniors that came out. Much like any draft I think there are little pockets along the way.”
(On drafting guys the team didn’t interview in the process) “It’s a combination. There are certain guys you spend a lot of time with because you’re trying to figure out the man. What’s in his heart, what’s his personality like, would he fit in the locker room? And there are certain guys we haven’t done a very good job with in my opinion, and that’s something we’ve really focused on this year. Just getting to know the person. How would he compete in this locker room? That’s something we’ve really focused on because this is such a young, competitive group. You guys saw Earl yesterday. He’s 24 years old. I mean, he’s a fairly intense guy. These guys have to have a certain quality about them that’s going to enable them to come in and compete with guys — with and/or against guys like that.”
(On if 5th year option on first round picks are incentive to trade into back end of first round) “I don’t see it as a huge enticement for people. Maybe at specific positions, like quarterback, I could see that. But I think if people really like a player they’re just going to try to acquire them in a certain area, and I don’t think they’re thinking about whether or not they can grab them to have that fifth year included.”
(On if they’ve decided on fifth-year option for James Carpenter) “Have not yet.”
(On if winning Super Bowl changes anything in process) “No, actually it drives you more. I think Earl did a good job describing it yesterday. It’s like this constant search for what’s best and how to get better, every single day. You do that so that your fans have that ultimate hope and faith every year that we’re going to be doing the right thing as a group and that we’re going to be fun to follow.”
(On success changing relationship with peers) "It doesn't. ... I don't see that happening. I think people have said the whole thing that when we're on Monday night football and people are talking about our big corners, well I think people have been looking for, everybody likes big corners that can run fast, I don't think we're doing anything unique. Does that make sense to you? When we got here we wanted to get bigger and faster, don't get me wrong but I don't' think now that the Seahawks - I've seen that before, I know what you're getting at - that the Seahawks have this big defensive backfield, I think everybody would like that.”
(On if teams will copy their formula to find players in later rounds) “I don't think so. I think everybody has their own unique way of setting up their draft board and attacking the draft. The draft is the primary way to build your team, but there are a lot of great avenues to acquire people. Our pro staff is working round the clock all the time evaluating other teams and what they're going to be releasing players and what situations are on the horizon in terms of cap casualties and what veterans might be let go and CFL guys and punters, kickers, snappers working out in Arizona. We value all those things.”
(On key to hitting late-round picks) “I think coach (Pete) Carroll and his staff have that natural, they played with young players are USC. They're use to it. They don't have a preconceived notion that you need a veteran. The easiest thing to do is sign a veteran. The toughest thing to do is sign a young player and coach them up and spend extra time with them and develop them and get them ready to play. And this staff has shown an ability to do that year in and year out and that commitment was part of the partnership with pete and I that we were going to accentuate the strengths of these players. We're not going to harbor on the negatives, we're going to try and do whatever we can as an organization help them compensate for their deficiencies and we're going to do whatever we can to coach them up and develop them and get them to reach their ceiling as quickly as they can.”
(On draft being more important with big contracts hitting the books) “We don't look at the draft any different from when we got here. Rookie free agency is incredible important for us. I'd love to tell you how we attack it but I can't. But it's extremely important for us. We take a lot of pride in competition to acquire those rookie free agents. Our scouts do a great job of establishing relationships in the spring with those guys and then obviously our coaching staff with, you know how Pete is, he can't wait for the draft to get over to get on the phone with these guys and start recruiting. Pete, he's phenomenal at that. I would have gone to USC and played there.”
(On UDFAs not feeling they have a chance to play in Seattle due to winning Super Bowl) “We see it the other way. We never think we have all the answers. We don't' view ourselves as this incredibly, we know we have some very interesting, talented guys but we don't view ourselves being more talented than any other team. We're trying to acquire as many guys as we possible can and then put it out there during the summer and see what happens. I think you guys have seen that. Doug is a great example of that. We didn't re-sign Brandon Stokley that year because we felt so strongly about Doug.”
(On if Baldwin had a sixth-round grade) "It was in that area."
(On guys with draftable grades making it to undrafted free agency) “Absolutely. Honestly I can't remember what Doug's final grade was. I think he was between fifth and sixth round, right in there. When the draft is over we do have guys that are on our board, sometimes there is a guy still sitting there in the fourth round. I don't' know if that is right."
(On trying to wait on guys into undrafted free agency) "Depends on the relationships that we have with the players and we're looking at other teams and what picks they have left. Once the 7th round happens, that's when all that stuff happens. You're trying to look at team needs and then what number of picks do they have left and have they filled what they fill as their team needs. Our pro staff and our college staff do a great job of combining their thoughts in that regard and then helping us out in terms of strategizing. It's really the 5th, 6th, 7th, free agent right in there. “
(On having just six picks changing anything) “No, it really doesn't. It's just a matter of how it starts coming off. This year is going to be really unique because of the quarterbacks and how they come off. There are some really talented quarterbacks that should go really high in the draft.”
(On conversations when guys with higher grades drop down the board) “We know why he's dropped. We grade for our team so we know there are certain guys that we like that we'll have in the fourth round that weren't invited to the combine. You don't hear much about them and they're kind of under the radar. We usually know why they are sitting there. There is not a lot of panic in terms of rarely does it happen that a guy you're like 'why is that guy, why is nobody taken this guy?' especially because there is so much time now, these two extra weeks, you almost feel bad for their prospects because there is so much.”
(On if there’s a thought of ‘what did we miss?’ when guy is falling) "No, we usually find that out after we acquire them."
(On decision to trade for Terrelle Pryor) "He's coming in as a quarterback and the thought process was we try and get in every deal and listen on every deal we possibly can. Sometimes there are a lot of deals that are done between teams that you're not able to get your foot in the door because of a relationship. This particular situation it was with Oakland and Reggie (McKenzie) and I are very good friends and he believes in him. So we talked about him and knew if he was released we weren't going to be able to get him on waivers. We knew that for sure. And then just to be able to acquire a player of that caliber in the 7th round, what our 7th round looks like right now, we felt the value was definitely there and it was worth it. ... Just the pick in and of itself, if we went to the 75 cut you look at how valued 7th round picks are at that point, if you advance to 53 we still would have done that deal based on the player and the value of that pick.”
(On keeping three quarterbacks) “Oh sure, absolutely. I think our history has shown that Pete opened it up to three two years ago legitimately for a starting spot so I think we’ve shown that that position is open for competition.”
(On Pryor playing other position) “I just don’t know that. I really don’t. The fantasy football guy in me is like ‘yeah, if Kordell Stewart can do it.’ 6-5 and a half, 245 pounds running a 4.36, phenomenal athlete. … Right now, he’s learning the quarterback position and it’s not even an option.”
(Best and worst things on draft day) “I think the best is that I feel really blessed to be in a position to do this. I dreamed about it as a child to be in a position to select players like this in a draft when you were just totally into it as a kid. Worst is the wait probably. Just watching the players come off. We’re going to watch 31 players come off our board. That’s a lot of guys. Then to see a guy go… like when I was in Green Bay we had Ray Lewis on the phone and we were getting ready to pick Ray Lewis. We would have had Brett Favre and Ray Lewis, the best offensive player and best defensive player in the league for maybe 10 years. That sucked.”
(Any close misses like that here) “A couple but it’s actually worked out in our favor.”
(On devaluation of running back position) “It was last year. I don’t know how it’s going to fall this year. People are talking like that but I don’t think you truly know until you get there. The position is interesting the way it’s going the last two years. We love to run the ball so we don’t value that position any differently than we do other positions.”
(On how he handles looking to move up in draft) “Well we just know the different target areas and then we’ll just start calling those teams and seeing if they’re interested in moving out of their pick if a player is not available. If they have a player that they’re getting ready to pick and is not there and we’d be willing to take their spot and then that’s when you start the negotiation. You try to start it ahead of time so it’s easier to kind of get on the clock and go. Last year, we moved up. We took Jesse (Williams) first but it was really for (Tharold) Simon because he was like our last big corner. I don’t think we’ve moved up a lot.”
(Temptation to move down with few picks) “I just like it in general. I think the first round is a beautiful thing because it’s so exciting and everybody is really into it. It’s entertainment. I get it. But it’s all about the work that all the scouts put in throughout the fall all the way through the draft and into rookie free agency. If you guys could be there when the draft is over, it’s awesome. It’s a blast. It’s like being on the floor of Wall Street or something.”
(On the percentages of having more picks) “Well the work that goes into it, yeah. Say you have eight guys in the fifth round that you really like, is it really worth losing two of those eight guys to go up and get one player? Is that one player worth two of those guys? It truly is the ultimate team sport.”
(On making decisions on draft day) “We've talked through it with the personnel staff, with the coaching staff and then Pete and I have spent enough time together knowing which way we are going to go. He's quicker but I'm stronger.”
(On role of Matt Thomas in contract negotiations) “He's instrumental in what we are doing, yeah. ... I can't tell you what our weekend was like with Earl, Earl's representatives. Matt, he is phenomenal, you know? He's always like, it's always everybody else's --- Trent (Kirchner) did such a good job, Dan (Morgan) did such a good job. But dude, you negotiated the whole deal, okay? It's all right. He's just, he's got so much experience. I think, the job he was doing for Mr. (Wayne) Huizenga they have hired four or five people now. So we are really, really blessed that he's here.”
(On Thomas joining at a pivotal time) “Absolutely. It was a great deal for John (Idzik). We were really excited for John. But it was just the timing of it was awesome because of what was going on in Cleveland with Joe Banner coming in as a salary cap expert himself and being in charge of the whole organization. So they were willing to let his speak with him.”
(On when Richard Sherman’s deal will be done) “I'm not sure, not sure.”
(On if Doug Baldwin will sign his tender) “I don't know if he's going to sign his tender or not. Take it one step at a time with everybody. There is a whole group of guys that will be free agents next year that are core players for us. Doug is one of them. K.J. Wright, Malcolm (Smith), (Byron Maxwell). I hate to start naming names but there is a whole group of guys.”
(On how resources are altered paying top players) “Again, it gets back to a coaching staff being willing to play with young players and so we know that by extending ourselves at specific positions that the other positions are going to be younger players that have smaller salaries and are going to be expected to come in and contribute right away, much like Earl did right away and Sherm did right away, Russell Okung. All these young guys that came in and played right away. So it's kind of like having pillars, if you will, and then building around it and we have to be very cognizant of what is coming three, four years out.”
(On being open in negotiations with players) “We pride ourselves on being extremely honest with the whole negotiation, the whole plan of what is going on. My older brother has negotiated contracts for American Express for a number of years, so the strategy of honesty and integrity, that's the best way to get a deal done. You definitely get more with honey than you do with vinegar and that's how we try to approach it, and so what that means is everybody has to understand what the plan is to a certain extent. You can't get into the specifics about other guys' deals but they understand the landscape for the next several years and they understand the fact that you are not just in this to have players get the most amount of money as soon as they possibly can but you are in this to win world championships and compete at the highest level every single year.”
(On the young defensive linemen) “Always hurts to lose guys, always hurts because there is that that you have been through so much with them and experienced so much with them and to this last year winning a world championship with those guys. But when you hear us talk about models, that's what it is. You know what is coming, so that's why (Greg Scruggs) is extremely important, Jordan (Hill), Jesse (Williams) - Jesse is doing well right now. So that's why those guys here, that's why there is a whole staff of trainers and performance people taking care of those guys as much as they possibly can to get them ready. (Scruggs) got fairly close last year but wasn't quite able to do it. That's why you see us taking Tharold Simon. Last year we are thinking 'hey, there is a chance we may not have Brandon, we may not have Walt. We don't know.”
(On Mayowa being a part of that) “Absolutely, yeah. Benson may have had his best week of practice at the Super Bowl, that week. He is going to be ready to compete hard.”
(On if Sidney Rice will be available to start season) “Yeah, absolutely.”
(On if it was important being open with Rice and knowing the status of his knee) “Sure. And then just what we have talked about with the honesty and the openness. When we released him it was hard but we explained the landscape to Sidney and his representative and we stayed in contact with him all the way through it.”
(On if Kam Chancellor had surgery) “Um, I'm not going to get into that right now. That's not something I want to discuss. I think that I would like to just not talk about it. I just don't think it's appropriate right now. We can talk about it later. Not later today, later.”
(On Simon’s status) “He is doing great.”
(On if Simon will be ready for OTAs) “That's my understanding, yeah. It's going to be a little bit of a process getting back in the mix so we will be careful with him.”
(On Russell Okung’s injury status) “I don't think it's appropriate to talk about surgeries and health. Not right now. When the guys are getting ready to practice then I think that's something Pete can talk on.”
(On their losses in free agency) “We are happy for those guys. You do your best to try to keep them but you know there are certain guys who for sure won't be with you based on how you have planned for your cap casualties. But there are also guys that you are just extremely happy for. Chris Maragos, you know? (Paul) McQuistan, Breno (Giacomini). Clinton McDonald. We released Clinton, brought him back, came in and had a great season for us. I'm excited to see all of those guys at the ring ceremony and give them a big hug and congratulate them on their deals. It's a good thing that people want to acquire players who have been with you and it's a credit to our coaching staff because they have coached these guys up to get them in a position to go play for other clubs.”
(On right tackle spot currently) “Michael Bowie, he would be first up. (Alvin) Bailey can play there. There are a couple of guys we feel like can play there and compete at that spot.”