Any more news on offseason surgeries? "Well, Earl (Thomas) is going to have his (shoulder) surgery coming up. That's probably our biggest issue. But it's a normal procedure, so he should do well."
No issues for him being ready for the start of the 2015 season? "No. Especially Earl. He attacks everything."
Even start of training camp for Thomas? "You know, I'm not sure. We are going to monitor him and make sure we do what's best for long term. He's going to be scratching and fighting to get out there as soon as he can. But we just don't know where he will be. Between our performance staff and our trainers, those guys will have a great idea of where he is and will make sure he is taken care of."
Kam Chancellor needs surgery? "Um, I'm not sure on that yet. I just don't know."
WR Paul Richardson, who tore his ACL in mid-January's NFC divisional playoff game vs Carolina, may not be ready for the start of the 2015 season? "Yeah, that's going to be a tough one. And Jeremy Lane, he needs some surgery, too."
What's up with Lane? "He has a knee. He injured his knee on the same play (he broke his arm returning a first-quarter INT out of the end zone in the Super Bowl Feb. 1). He doesn't need (another) surgery on his arm; they did that. They basically put his arm back together ... Yeah, he got hurt (both knee and arm) on the same play. He hurt his knee and shattered his wrist on the same play."
Do you anticipate using the team's one-per-year franchise tag on a player contract in 2015? "No."
Jermaine Kearse: "He's a restricted (free agent). We will announce all that stuff at the appropriate time. We are working through all the (contract) tenders and all that stuff. We are meeting with plenty of agents down here."
You starting the free-agency and draft prep in December this past season rather than in January off the previous season: "You have a better feel for the landscape. When agents are coming and talking to you, you have a better feel for the whole thing -- whereas last year we were very focused on our own guys. We still are, it's just -- we want to take care of our own guys first -- we just have a better lay of the land of how other people may think of our guys, how they stack up. I just feel like we are -- I mean, we are caught up. But just coming here, we've been meeting with agents the last several days and be on top of the current landscape. Last year, with Golden (Tate) and Michael (Bennett) being big issues that we were working through here, and we had our unrestricted guys -- we have a bunch this year, as well -- but we have a really good feel for stuff this year."
Seattle's 2015 free agents include Maxwell, James Carpenter, Kevin Williams, Malcolm Smith, O'Brien Schofield, Ricardo Lockette, Clint Gresham, Demarcus Dobbs, Tarvaris Jackson, Jeron Johnson, Tony Moeaki, Bryan Walters, Will Tukuafu, Landon Cohen, DeShawn Shead and Stephen Schilling. Do you feel you are going to lose a bunch of those guys?: "We don't feel that way. We feel we have a great shot to keep our guys. We are going to try to keep our guys and try to keep our core together as long as we can. That being said, we are not going to do anything different than we have in the past. We are going to claim a player here and there, take our shots. And if anyone wants to trade us a player, we will be open to that. And then we are going to do draft well and play some young players."
On Russell Wilson's contract talks: "They are amicable. He is under contract (through 2015). There are a lot of people we want to take care of."
Do you know if you are going to have 10 or 11 draft picks, after the NFL awards compensatory choices for losing free agents following the 2013 season? (that notification to teams should be coming by next month's owners' meetings in Phoenix): "We might have 11. I don't want to be disappointed, so I'm thinking 10. We'll know within a month."
On Bradon Mebane's torn hamstring: "He's doing well. He had a really bad injury, torn hamstring."
Will he be healthy to begin the 2015 season?: "Yeah, he's on track -- as far as I know right now."
On how personally excruciating as a native of Wisconsin and former Packers executive the end of the NFC title game was: "Just the reversal was really intense. I was preparing for what I was going to say to the players and coaches. I was getting myself mentally prepared for that. All of a sudden, things started to steamroll there at the end. I was just preparing for what I was going to say to the organization, to have a loss at home like that. You know, we had come so far after winning the Super Bowl the previous year, so it opened up a lot of things. It was a very powerless feeling, all the things everyone had to do just to get to that spot -- and then to have a loss. That's what I was preparing for. And we were extremely excited -- obviously, we were going to the Super Bowl -- but I've been on the other side of those, too. To come back and your season's over, that's hard.
"Yeah, you struggle. You are really excited. But you feel bad, too."
On Seahawks' philosophy of constantly reloading and replacing with youth: "Yeah, we talk about all the time, 'There is no finish line.' We are chasing greatness. We want to be the best at what we do, and do it better than anybody's ever done it before. We are always chasing something; there is no finish line. We look at that way. We are always going to be drafting players. We do a great job of playing young players, developing them and spending time with them. That's where our confidence lies, in the fact our coaches are going to put young people out there. So when you do lose a guy like Brandon Browner, you have somebody like Byron Maxwell ready to replace him."
Is it hard to part with guys? "Absolutely. No, absolutely it is. They end up being like your little brothers, you know. Sometimes I feel like I have 150 children, you know what I mean? Two at home-- and a bunch there. You are always very concerned about them, their well-being; are they taking care of themselves? You want them to be great. You want to give them all the tools they could possibly have to be the best that they can be."
Do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about the end of the Super Bowl? "You mean, like cold sweats or something? I'm not going to say I haven't. When I wake up in the morning do I think about it? Yeah. Absolutely. I think it will stick with us forever. And it will keep driving us towards excellence."
And from the main podium earlier Thursday morning, starting with some audio on his thoughts on Marshawn Lynch returning in 2015:
"Good morning. I would like to start by acknowledging Coach Carroll, the coaching staff, for the phenomenal job they did this last year. Unbelievable leadership, behind-the-scenes stuff that not a lot of people get to see, but pretty special. Also, our scouting staff, guys did a phenomenal job. We had the fourth-most players on injured reserve this year and I think our staff did a phenomenal job of getting guys in and being prepared, having 'ready' lists. Also, our player-performance staff working with our players and getting them back, Kam Chancellor, just getting him to play in the Super Bowl was a big deal for us. I just want to acknowledge those people. There's a lot that goes into this and we were going at it for a long time, playing a lot of football since the Denver (Super Bowl 48) game. It's important to acknowledge those people and how important they are."
Are you over the loss yet, and how did you feel about the final play call of the Super Bowl?
"No, I'm not over it. I think it's always going to stay with you. It's a part of life, you know. There's a lot of big games that I've been a part of that don't go your way. Can go all the way back to high school if you want. No, I think it drives you.
"It's just want of those things that, hey, just like the coaching staff trusts you with management and acquisition, to all the touches we trust those guys with the job they do. And, hey, they've been doing a good job. Now, we always talk about 'No finish line.' We are just moving forward. We had started our process for the offseason down in Arizona, so we were moving toward next year already, about a month before the game."
Why do you think the running-back position has fallen out of vogue at the top of the first round and do you expect that to continue in this draft?
"You know, I don't have an answer for that. I just know that every year you scout and evaluate like every position the runners that are out there, whether it's free agency or the draft. I personally think this is a pretty good running-back group this year. I don't have an answer for you whether it is cyclical or not."
Across the league, do you think the running-back position is still valued?
"I can't speak for other teams, but I would think so. I would think everybody wants to run the ball and protect the ball. Yeah, it's a huge part of it."
And you've got a back that shows you obviously value the position?
"Oh Marshawn? Yeah, he's phenomenal. He's a heartbeat guy. When you have a guy like that you do everything you can to let him go to work. The guy loves playing football."
Have you gotten any more clarity on whether Lynch wants to return to play next season (he's under contract for one more season)?
"Not yet. I think everybody needs time away, especially at that position and the way he runs the ball. Time to hit the reset button. I've talked to his people a bunch, his representatives. He knows we want him to play."
Would it shock you if he did retire?
"You know ... not really. He's a guy that kind of just beats to his own drum, He does what he wants, and he would never let you know one way or the other. A lot of great running backs have just walked away. So I have no idea."
When is your deadline to know what Lynch will do?
"We'd like to know soon. Like I said, I've talked to his people. They know."
Do you have a deadline date?
"Not for public knowledge. Sorry."
Wear and tear with running backs, is Lynch unique in that way?
"That's a great question. He's done a phenomenal job, especially these last two or three years, working down there in the Bay Area. He's really done a nice job taking care of himself. Every time he's come in he's come in ready to go. This year he looked quicker and faster than he has in the last several years, especially before he started working down there."
You still trust Christine Michael and Robert Turbin, Lynch's backup RBs?
"Robert's a great player with his knowledge of the position. He can just step in a game and roll. He's got more experience than Christine. Robert was our 2-minute back. Christine, he had a great fall (and) when Marshawn wasn't around, was holding out. He had a great preseason and we expect big things for him as we move forward."
Last year you had the 32nd draft pick ...
"How important is that 32nd pick with the way the draft is now structured with the first round only on the first day, and how much were you fielding phone calls?
"Last year was a little unique because of all the quarterbacks that were involved. We were hoping somebody wanted to move back up to grab one of the quarterbacks. We were just concerned that something was going to happen in front of us. ... But No. 31 is better -- if anyone is out there listening."
WR Kevin Norwood, how do you expect his role to change?
"Kevin was hurt early in training camp and had to catch up a little bit. As a rookie it's really hard. Rookie receivers have a hard time anyway. He was doing great toward the end of the season. I know he was really disappointed he wasn't able to dress for the Super Bowl. That was a very hard decision for us. But he's a very reliable receiver, a really clutch guy. He acts like he's been in the league for three years. He's a real pro."
Any timeline for getting Russell Wilson's new contract done?
"No. No timeline. Really, I've talked to his people. They know where we're at."
Has Lynch giving you any specific that makes you think he might not come back?
"No he hasn't really. He's the ultimate teammate. The players love him, so does everybody in the building. He'd really be missed. He hasn't given us any indication that he would leave or anything. I was asked a question if it would surprise me, and it wouldn't, just based on the individual. He works his tail off. You know, that's a hard job that he has."
Spread offenses in college, do they make it harder to evaluate quarterbacks?
"That's a great question. It's getting harder and harder, in my opinion. It's so unique seeing those guys go into the Senior Bowl and see those guys under center. You got guys moving around, how they move in the pocket, how they adjust. It's harder now. When you watch college football you see those guys looking to the sideline, and I know me, personally, I've made several mistakes in that regard. You may question the guy's decision-making. You may value it higher, his intellectual level or what a good football guy he is, but you don't truly know because they are looking at the sidelines at cards. It's just a process that we have to continue to work through and evaluate. Like any other position we evaluate all the way through the spring.
"It's really about figuring out how the guy processes. Can he get the information? Can he express it to his teammates? Can he read a defense? What those guys do -- I don't know how many of you have sat in a quarterback room -- I mean, that's pretty intense stuff. It's like learning a whole language. Just to think of the things those guys have to go through and as fast as that goes down for him... I'm just saying it's hard, it's hard to evaluate those players at the college level when you look over at the sidelines when you are at a game and watching them play live and, you know, they are looking at cards with like colors and turtles and stuff. You have no idea what they are doing -- as opposed to watching guys line up under center, read a defense, check out of a play..."
On if the uncertainty in Lynch’s longterm future means they would think about scaling back his workload if he does come back: “I don’t think Marshawn I think like any other running back he just wants it, you know? And can’t blame him, that’s kind of how you roll that you get that feeling that you want the ball often. He actually does a great ob with his teammates where he wants them to get opportunities. He did it a ton with Justin Forsett, he did it in college with Justin. But I think he wants to carry the ball as much as possible.’’
On evaluating receivers who are in different systems than the NFL team runs: “How it will translate? It’s hard. It’s very hard. You have a lot of private workouts with guys, too. But I think it’s hard for receivers here (at the Combine) and quarterbacks sometimes too because they are not used to all of these different guys. Everybody runs routes in different manner so some quarterbacks are more accurate than others. It’s just spending more and more time with those individuals, it really is. And if you have that special feel for them and you can watch the way they adjust to the ball and adjust their routes and do they have the body control they are going to need at the next level.’’
On if Washington's Shaq Thompson looks like a safety or a linebacker at the next level: “I’d rather not get into how I feel about specific players and view them. I just know that being around Shaq, being in Seattle, that first of all he’s a great kid and everybody speaks very highly of him and he’s obviously extremely talented – I think he played several positions other than that.’’
On Chris Matthews and how he played at the end of the season: “Chris had a great camp. Obviously everybody loves big receivers You’d rather have a guy that looks like that rather than a guy that looks like myself – short, pasty white guys. Nothing against white wide receivers, --- I wasn’t going down that road. But Chris had a great camp he just didn’t hit the 53. We had him on our practice squad for a minute, we were banged up, so we had to move on from Chris and he was out for probably about a month and we were able to get him back on our practice squad and get him back in the flow and he knew there were some things with the coaching staff that he needed to improve on. And he had done a really nice job in the pre season with the special teams --- I think it was against Oakland that he almost blocked a punt. No, it was Denver. Anyway, he did a great job in the preseason on special teams so coach Schneider (Brian, Seattle’s special teams coach) was really excited to get him back out there --- a big body that can run. And then it was really cool to see him get his opportunity and have a pretty big game. Just the way he attacked the ball in the air for a guy who is that tall, some guys tend to wait for it and he’s a guy that is really learning to go and take it out of the air and play like a big man. We kind of joked with hi about it all the time --- play like a big man.’’
On Bryon Maxwell and if the Seahawks think they can keep him: “I’m sure, down here at the combine you are talking to a ton of free agents, so Byron’s people are going to do the same thing. We’ve had great discussions with them, we have a good relationship with those guys. Byron is one of ours, it’s just it would be hard to see him leave but I would think his market will be very strong. He’s a heck of a kid, a heck of a player but we are going to keep doing things the way we stared her. Just keep drafting people and playing young people and trying to keep the players that we can keep, try to identify the players that we have to reward and make those tough decisions about players that are under contract that you may have to let go to create some cap room. Those are just tough decisions as you go. We are not going to change anything we do and so if Byron does move on, we’ll hopefully have another young Byron Maxwell out there. He’s a great guy.’’
On if there is ever a downside to using a franchise tag: “That’s like another 45-minute conversation right there, man. That’s a long, long answer. I’m not going to get into that.’’
On Scott McCloughan, just hired by the Redskins: “I’ve known Scott since 1992, 1993. Great guy, good evaluator, I’m sure there are good guys in Washington right now and they just hired a great one in Scott. He’s going to come in and do a really good job for those guys.’’