Parade over, stadium celebration over, players out. The offseason has begun.
The 2014 Super Bowl champion Seahawks spent one final day basking in appreciation Wednesday during a swamped parade through the streets of Seattle.
After watching season highlights and taking a final bow in a mostly full CenturyLink Field, the players dispersed. They won’t be back together until April 21, when clubs with returning head coaches can begin offseason workouts.
“I think we walk out of here totally arm-in-arm with the thought we’re going to have a great offseason,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “That means the guys have to be really committed to having a great offseason because there are going to be a lot of distractions, a lot of people pulling them in different directions. We addressed that quite frankly that each guy has got to set his plan in motion and not let the distractions get in the way of his hard work.”
The parade, which Carroll marveled at for its sustained intensity, wasn’t the only thing that had him in a good mood. Carroll was thrilled with the team’s health heading into the offseason.
He said wide receiver Percy Harvin came out of the Super Bowl feeling great. After suffering a second-degree ankle sprain in the Super Bowl, cornerback Richard Sherman shed his walking boot Tuesday. He still needs a few weeks to get back to full speed, but is expected to be fine.
Quarterback Russell Wilson played much of the season with a sore left shoulder. Strong safety Kam Chancellor was bothered by a hip problem. Carroll said both are in good shape.
The Seahawks will look into whether left tackle Russell Okung needs another toe surgery. He had one after injuring his toe in Week 2 against San Francisco, which put him on short-term injured reserve in the middle of the season.
In all, Carroll couldn’t be happier.
“It’s by far the best effort and connection of keeping the health of our football team that I’ve ever been around,” Carroll said. “We come out of this season stronger. We were fast in the last game. We were strong and fit. So, that means that we go into the offseason with that as well.
"We have so few guys that are going to have to have the surgeries — there are always things that pop-up — we’re in a really good level of conditioning.”
Negotiating change is the next step for Carroll. He and general manager John Schneider will have to decide where the money will come from for unrestricted free agents such as Michael Bennett and Golden Tate, should the Seahawks try to retain them.
Carroll was pleased to have continuity with his coaching staff, a trio of which – offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive line coach Tom Cable – were considered to varying degrees for open head coach jobs. Carroll wants that same continuity with the roster.
“We want this team together,” Carroll said. “We want to see if we can keep this team together. Every decision is difficult. Guys at the end of their contracts, those are big issues for us. We’d like to keep it together the best we can.”
In regard to the core, the Seahawks will be able to do that for another year.
With the youngest roster to win a Super Bowl, Carroll sees potential for further steps.
“We can be way better in so many ways,” Carroll said. “You can see the improvement we made defensively. At the end, our tackling was extraordinary. The fundamentals of this game always allow us to be reaching to be better. Across the board we can.”
A scary thought for the rest of the league heading into the offseason.
Carroll said wide receiver Sidney Rice has made an “unbelievable” recovery from surgery after tearing his ACL on Oct. 28. … The Seahawks took care of eight futures contracts when they signed practice squad players Akeem Auguste, Phil Bates, Michael Brooks, Dewayne Cherrington, Arceto Clark, Cooper Helfet, D’Anthony Smith and Jared Smith on Wednesday in a procedural move. … Tate, an unrestricted free agent, was asked if he would take a hometown discount to stay with Seattle. “To an extent,” he said. Tate said numerous positive things about the city, team and fans.