RENTON General manager John Schneider said on the eve of Seahawks players reporting for training camp the team expects Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Bennett to report on time, that it may put recuperating Jimmy Graham and Thomas Rawls on the physically-unable-to-perform list but still expects the tight end and running back to play in this season’s opener -- and that, “no,” he does not have an out clause in his new, five-year contract extension that would allow him to leave Seattle to become Green Bay’s GM.
Those were the highlights of Schneider’s 30-plus-minute sit-down interview with local beat reporters Thursday afternoon in the media room of Seahawks headquarters.
Schneider was asked if he expected Bennett to report Friday on time and be on the field for the first practice of training camp Saturday morning. In answering, the GM seemed to confirm he’s been discussing Bennett’s year-old unhappiness over his contract that still has two years remaining on it with the player’s agent, Doug Hendrickson. ESPN.com had reported that Schneider and Hendrickson were talking this week.
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“I do, yeah ... I do expect him (to report on time). I haven’t heard otherwise,” Schneider said of Bennett, who vowed last month he would report to camp on time as he did last year -- and again largely set aside his desire for more than the four-year, $28.5 million deal he signed before the 2014 season.
When I asked if his long-stated policy of not renegotiating Seahawks contracts that have multiple years remaining still applies to Bennett, Schneider said: “I’m not going to get into Michael’s situation specifically. What I would say is that, like I said earlier, 90 percent of my job is being a good listener. So that’s about all I can say on that.”
The GM said it remains the team’s “understanding” that Graham is recovering from a torn patellar-tendon in his knee from late November and Rawls from a broken ankle and torn ligaments in early December well enough that both should be able to play in the first game Sept. 11 against Miami in Seattle. Schneider said Graham and Rawls will not practice Saturday to begin camp and the team was going to remain conservative and cautious in their returns. The GM said the Seahawks’ medical and training staff are still assessing whether to put one or both of them on the active/PUP list to begin camp.
Going on the PUP list Saturday would not be a surprise nor necessarily an ominous sign Graham or Rawls won’t be ready for the opener, as we discussed here last week. The Seahawks don’t need Rawls or Graham to prove a thing in August, including in any of the four exhibition games. If the team chooses to put one or both on the active/PUP list to begin camp, that would provide roster insurance. In case either or both aren’t fully game-ready by the opener, Seahawks would be able to put them on the reserve/PUP list for the first six weeks of the regular season without losing them for the entire season to injured reserve. The team would not have to carry them on the 53-man active roster while unavailable to play.
NFL rules state if one isn’t on the PUP list to begin training camp he can’t go on the PUP list to start the regular season.
A player on the active/PUP list to begin camp remains on the 90-man offseason/preseason roster but cannot practice. He can come off it at any time during the preseason when and if he is fully ready to participate. Once such a player comes off the PUP list he is not eligible to go on the PUP list to begin the regular season, so those roster advantages and insurance vanish.
Schneider brought up again on Thursday picking up the phone just out of college in 1992 and basically talking his way into an assistant scouting job with general manager Ron Wolf’s Packers. Schneider had been an undersized, starring running back for Abbot Pennings High School in De Pere, Wisconsin, 15 minutes south of Green Bay.
Schneider’s previous contract with the Seahawks that expires after this season -- before the five-year extension through 2021 to which he agreed on Sunday begins -- reportedly contained a clause that would have allowed him to leave the Seahawks to become his hometown Packers’ GM.
So I asked him Thursday if his new contract extension has that same out clause that would allow him to leave for Green Bay.
“No,” Schneider said. “I know there have been a lot of whispers about a lot of things. ... It’s a small league. And I’m from a small hometown, so...”
Schneider also said he sent a note to the agent for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson late last month, soon after the veteran backup to Russell Wilson the last four Seahawks seasons was arrested and released by authorities in Florida for allegedly pointing a loaded gun at a woman believed to be his wife. Seattle’s GM said he and the team have their eyes and ears open for other veteran quarterbacks the Seahawks could possibly sign during the preseason.
Right now, undrafted rookie Trevone Boykin is the No. 2 QB behind Wilson. Schneider said Boykin, from TCU, has impressed with how physically talented and professional he’s been since the first rookie minicamp in May.