The Seattle Seahawks hired Green Bay Packers co-director of football operations John Schneider as general manager on Tuesday. Schneider, 38, will be introduced this morning in a news conference at team headquarters in Renton.
Schneider’s hiring culminates a six-week search that began when former president and general manager Tim Ruskell stepped down Dec. 3. Schneider was picked from a group of candidates that included New England Patriots senior consultant Floyd Reese, Pittsburgh Steelers front office executive Omar Khan and New York Giants director of scouting Marc Ross.
It is believed that Reese was the other finalist. He was considered the favorite because of his relationship with new coach and vice president of football operations Pete Carroll. The two coached together under Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant in 1985.
But ultimately owner Paul Allen and the team’s search committee selected a younger candidate and a known quantity in Schneider, who worked for Seattle in 2000 and has developed a reputation around the league as a shrewd talent evaluator who has an easygoing demeanor and works well in a group setting.
That ability to work in a collaborative setting is an important one, because Schneider will be tasked with working in an organizational setting that, according to Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke, puts him on the same level as Carroll and vice president of administration John Idzik, who will remain the team’s salary cap specialist and lead negotiator.
All three will report to Leiweke, who will be in charge of resolving any disputes.
“Some would say giving one person total control also doesn’t make sense,” said Leiweke, when asked last week why he believed the collaborative system will work. “And so we believe it can be done, and we believe that if you get like-minded people who are coming here for the right reasons, that not only can it be done, it’s going to lead us to regaining our winning ways.”
The rest of Seattle’s personnel staff likely will remain the same, with interim general manager Ruston Webster probably retaining his role as vice president of player personnel and Will Lewis remaining director of pro personnel.
Schneider, who has worked in the NFL for 17 years, spent the past eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was promoted to director of football operations in 2008. Before that, Schneider worked for a season as vice president of player personnel with the Washington Redskins in 2001 and spent 1997 to 1999 as Kansas City’s director of player personnel.
He spent a season in Seattle in 2000 under then-GM Ted Thompson, whom he rejoined in Green Bay in 2002. With the Packers, Schneider was a jack of all trades, sharing director of football operations duties with Reggie McKenzie, becoming heavily involved in the team’s draft preparations and helping out in free agent acquisitions and trades.
With the team’s switch to a 3-4 defensive front last year, Green Bay focused on drafting players such as defensive tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews in the first round to fill gaps in the team’s new scheme. Although Raji had little impact in his rookie season, Matthews had 10 sacks and made the Pro Bowl.
With Seattle having three of the top 40 picks in this year’s draft and the possibility of an uncapped year limiting whether Seattle can make a splash in free agency, making the right draft selections becomes even more important.
Another connection that proved fruitful for Schneider was his relationship with Seahawks vice president and general counsel Lance Lopes. The two worked together in Green Bay during Schneider’s first stint with the Packers, with Lopes working in Green Bay from 1993 to 2000. Schneider, a native of De Pere, Wis., joined the Packers in 1992 as an intern, eventually being promoted to pro personnel assistant the following season and working in that position through 1996.
Lopes also played a key role in the pursuit of Carroll. His brother, Steve Lopes, is a senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California.
A graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn., Schneider played football for one season before a shoulder injury cut short his career. He and his wife, Traci, have two sons, Ben and Jack.
Washington Redskins secondary coach Jerry Gray reportedly accepted an offer to join Carroll’s staff and coach the Seahawks’ defensive secondary. Gray had interviewed for Washington’s head coaching job while Jim Zorn still served as the team’s coach.