General manager John Schneider talked this afternoon at team headquarters in Renton with media members who regularly cover the Seahawks. The main topics were general and philosophical ones about the draft.
Near the end of the half hour or so I asked Schneider how he would now characterize contract negotiations with quarterback Russell Wilson. The 26-year old is coming up on the final season of his four-year rookie contract; the team wants to extend it for far more than the $1.5 million he is currently due to earn in 2015.
"I'm not going to get into specifics on Russell's situation," Schneider said, "other than to say we all love Russell and we want him to be our quarterback for a long time."
I asked if he felt that feeling was mutual from Wilson and his camp.
"I do, yeah," the Seahawks' GM said.
"Can I ask you if it is more sticky than you thought it might be?" I asked Schneider.
"No," he said, "you can't."
In February, at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, Schneider had characterized the negotiations as "amicable." Since then, this has been floating around -- for whatever it may or may not be worth.
This week, HBO Sports' Bryant Gumbel asked Wilson to comment on whether he is "the best bargain in sports" at less than $700,000 in salary last season vs. the $20 million-per-year QB he could be(come):
It's surprising me how public this has become. Expecting a much more behind-the-scenes course the rest of the way until the new deal is done.
--Schneider also talked today about how anxious many in the Seahawks' draft room will be next Thursday, April 30, when the first round begins -- and ends -- presumably with Seattle not having a first-round choice. The team traded the 31st-overall choice to New Orleans last month along with center Max Unger to acquire star tight end Jimmy Graham. The Seahawks also got the Saints' fourth-round pick in the deal, part of Seattle's NFL-leading haul of 11 picks in this draft.
"Gives us a lot of flexibility," Schneider said.
It's just that the first selection isn't scheduled to come until pick No. 63 overall at the bottom of the second round.
As usual, Schneider didn't rule out moving up or down or all around in that second round, or with Seattle's later picks. With 11 choices the team can package many potential offers if they are sensing the place a player they want is going to be drafted if the Seahawks don't pick him. But I'd be shocked if Seattle traded up to get back into the first round. I don't sense the Seahawks feel they need to, that they believe they can acquire the players and depth they need on the offensive and defensive lines, at wide receiver and in the defensive secondary over the final six rounds.
And, no, the GM isn't regretting the Seahawks not having a first-round choice for the third consecutive draft.
"When you acquire a player of Jimmy’s caliber with the 31st pick, that makes it that much easier to sleep at night knowing that we wouldn’t be able to get a player like that," Schneider said.
--As for that offensive line that needs to replace Unger and starting left guard James Carpenter, at least, before the games get real Sept. 13 at St. Louis, Schneider said "Sure, I think I'd be lying to you if I told you any different" (than there is an increased need on the O-line). But saying that, that doesn't mean that we need to go hog wild doing something, either. We are going to continue fixing as we go -- I don't mean fix it, 'address it,' as we go. It could be the draft. It could be a cap casualty in the summer. It could be someone who was just waived. It could be a trade yet. We'll never stop evaluating every position."
--The team has a May 3 deadline to pick up the 2016 option on pass rusher Bruce Irvin's rookie contract from 2012. Schneider said the team hasn't made a decision on it yet, but that the draft ending May 2 will make the decision clear by the next day. Still seeing no reason why the team won't pick up Irvin's option. His skill is too valuable to the defense, and last season he became an every-down player, a linebacker on run downs and end rushing quarterbacks off the edge on passing downs.
--Back to some much-ado-about-very-little items: Hey, you might have heard Michael Bennett hasn't been at the voluntary -- let's stress voluntary, in April -- weight-training and physical-rehabilitation sessions going on here in Renton this week, phase one of the team's offseason workout program. The defensive end has inferred he isn't entire thrilled with the four-year, $28.5 million contract with $16 million guaranteed -- then made the point this month: what player doesn't want more money.
Schneider said he hasn't talked to Bennett. Sounds like the GM sees no reason to at this point, either.
"No. We have a number of guys that aren’t here for specific reasons," Schneider said. "It’s voluntary right now, so, he’s one of them that’s not here.’’
--Graham is here at team headquarters this week:
Asked if he's learned anything more about his new tight end since the trade, Schneider said: "Not a lot. I mean I knew he was a pilot. Sounds like those guys had a great time over in Hawaii. We knew he was a good guy, good athlete, good teammate. Obviously quarterback-friendly. Nothing has changed in that regard. Nothing new."
--Schneider said the Seahawks "absolutely" still wants to re-sign backup quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who is an unrestricted free agent and has visited Miami among other teams. What could be holding up the signing? The NFL's new deadline of May 12, before which any team that signs an unrestricted free agent from another team may end up owing that team losing the player a compensatory draft choice. Any signings after May 12 will not factor into possible compensatory draft choice compensation. Jackson could be waiting to see how genuine his offers are going to be after May 12.