Seahawks general manager John Schneider talked after practice here at team headquarters in Renton today to the local media for the first time since before the draft in May.
--Schneider said of Marshawn Lynch: "He's under contract for next year." The GM called Lynch "a warrior," adding "You'd be hard-pressed to find a better running back in the National Football League."
After he said that, I felt compelled to ask him, "So you are not tired of 'his act'?" That was a reference to this and other unsubstantiated report in October that the Seahawks would be getting rid of Lynch after this season because they were "tired of his act."
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"No," Schneider said with a wry smile, "I kind of love his act."
--The GM said negotiations with Russell Wilson on extending his contract which is currently due to end following the 2015 season will begin "at the appropriate time." That means after the season. NFL rules prohibit teams from talking to members of the 2012 rookie class on new deals beyond their initial ones until after their teams' seasons end. I apologize a month ago for writing on here that the rule had changed to the day after the regular season; that is only for teams that don't make the playoffs.
So it sounds as if the Seahawks will not let their franchise quarterback play through next season while on a lame-duck contract, as we all would expect they wouldn't.
--Schneider said the re-signing of cornerback Byron Maxwell is the team's top offseason contract priority -- which surprises me some. Maxwell's contract ends of the Seahawks play the Patriots Feb. 1 in the Super Bowl. Schneider acknowledged the Seahawks are going to face stiff competition in the unrestricted free-agent market for Maxwell. I would be surprised if Seattle goes far into a bidding war to keep Maxwell, but Schneider said bringing back Maxwell is important to keeping the young nucleus of the top-ranked defense intact.
--And you can see below his first public comments on the Percy Harvin trade, how it just "didn't work out" and that it didn't just happen "overnight."
Here is the entirety of our 16 minutes in a conference room inside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center today with Seahawks general manager John Schneider:
Reflect on the season -
“Right after the game was pretty exciting in the locker room knowing that we were going back and had done something no one else had done in 10 years is pretty special and a true testament to everybody in the football operations especially the players and the coaches. But in terms of thinking about it too much we’re in a weird time right now because, I think I explained this last year too, it’s a great thing we’re in the midst of preparing the game and getting the organization ready to support the football operations moving down to Phoenix but we’re also getting ready for the draft and free agency and the good thing is we’ve had our free agency meetings already, we did that earlier this year than we did last year and we’re having our draft meetings starting down there.”
So you are taking the entire draft and free-agency operations down to Phoenix?
"We have to do that because what we found out last year was we got a little behind. You know it’s a real bummer we had a parade and got in the way of our operation. Those couple of days are very important because you’re trying to get your staff back home to their families after their draft meetings so they have a couple of days, at least one or two days with their families before they go down to the combine for that week. Because right after that they’re going out to all the individual workouts and it gives us a couple of days to take all those questions we need answered and kind of get them organized and get ready for the combine."
Free agency meetings earlier this time?
"We did them about a month ago which really helped."
Why did you want to do it earlier?
"We knew that last year, it was a little bit of a different approach because last year we knew we weren’t going to be active in free agency much at all. We usually have our free agency meetings in the first week at the end of the season heading into the playoffs and we kind of got crunched last year. I don’t’ think we did a very good job with it, so we wanted to be ahead this year and it really helped because we kind of had the lay of the land and we know we should have a pretty good feeling how other people would feel about our free agents as compared to the rest of the league. Trent Kirchner did a good job getting those guys all ready and getting the board lined up and it felt great to have that behind us before the playoffs even started."
More active in free agency this year?
"No, I’m just saying we’re more prepared for what other people would think about our free agents or how we feel about other people’s free agents. Last year by the time we got to the combine it was just s whirlwind and you’re meeting with agents down there and other teams and so I just feel like we could do a better job this year."
Timing of Harvin trade?
"Not to get too specific with it, it was just—we were talking to a number of different teams. I was actually at the University of Missouri, and had been talking to John Idzik, and they played on a Thursday night, and they just got very aggressive that night."
Comfortable with how info got to players?
"I was. I thought everybody handled it as well as it could possibly be, especially that weekend. As far as it affecting that game, I can’t tell you if it did or not. That’s always been a very tough place for us to play. The previous year we won on a goal-line stand down there, so I think it’s always been a very tough play for us, so I’m not sure if that had an effect on that specific game, but I know that after that, we were really able to kind of get our feet back under us. The staff did a great job of just getting our team back to playing the type of football we were capable of."
What do you remember about the process of getting hired?
"I remember the first day I was just sick to my stomach, like, ‘what did I get myself into?’ I was worried. No, I talked to Tod Leiweke that day, because I was really excited about the opportunity and working with Pete, then you go through doing all the media stuff and everything, then you sit down and you go to work. We had to cut like $52 million in salary. That’s a lot. We were still hiring some coaches, you’re away from you family—I know I was away from my family for four or five months—so it was just very overwhelming. But then being able to get with Pete and spend as much time as we did together, it was just natural after that. We just hit it off. We were able to just really learn each other, each other’s philosophies and how to communicate with each other; that whole respect level that comes into it. The best thing about was that, he’s Pete Carroll, right? I’m John Schneider, right? And his ego level was so not what you would think for a man that had that type of success. So he was very easy to communicate with and talk to and share—share our philosophies and share our vision."
On having already signed Cliff Avril and KJ Wright: “That helped us. It was right about that time, too. That was about a month ago? It was right after the Arizona game.’’
On having 22 undrafted free agents on the 53-man roster: “I think it’s a combination of good coaches, good teachers and good acquisition and being able to identify guys that have a legitimate chance of coming in and making your roster."
What's your secret to finding these guys: “I can’t tell you. … I don’t want to get into it. I don’t think we do anything different than any other clubs but if we did I would never want to discuss that.’’
On extending Russell Wilson's contract: “We don’t have a timetable. At the appropriate time we are able to speak to his representatives and we’ll do that. We are not in a situation where we can yet.’’
On if there are situations where they may have a draftable grade on a guy but they see a guy they can maybe get as a free agent instead: “Yeah, but that happens in the seventh round so you have a feel for what teams are calling specific players so then you are going to go ahead and draft a guy. It could be in the sixth round a little bit, too, depending on how late you are in the sixth round if in those compensatory picks late in that latter bracket.’’
On if they can still keep some of the core defensive guys and if Byron Maxwell is part of that plan to hoard all those starters to longer deals: "Yeah, it is. That quite frankly is one of our first priorities is to talk to Maxie. Now I think he like a lot of our other unrestricted guys, I think he is going to be highly sought after and he should be. But we would at least like to have the opportunity to retain him.’’
Hey, Percy Harvin remember him?: “Yeah, so regarding that situation, we took a shot for a highly explosive player. For a number of different reasons it didn’t work out and we knew that we had to resolve that situation as quickly as we could so that we could just move forward as a football team, as an organization and it was a very hard decision, one that we didn’t make over night.’’
On that it could have been a difficult situation, how'd the team handle it? “Quite frankly from the top down, the support of ownership really helps with that. And then I think being able to communicate too with the staff, the football staff, that’s every area of the organization, it’s not just the coaches how important a decision this is and why it’s happening. And then with Pete, much like everything else he does, he’s just so in tune with making everything such a positive and this was a great example. It’s other people’s opportunity now and I think that’s what he did a phenomenal job with.’’
YOU WERE INVOLVED IN THE INTERVIEWING OF CARROLL?
"No, I was not. I had to rip about 30 pages out of my book -- I had coaching candidates before I interviewed. So it went from like 30 to (page) 62 and they were like 'What happened here. Guy can't count.' I'm actually like, 'Those were were all the head coaches' bios were. Sorry.'"
DID YOU EVER THINK YOU'D HAVE THIS SUCCESS IN FIVE YEARS?
"That's a really good question. You know what, I think we don't necessarily view it that way. It's a daily thing. We are so focused and consumed about getting better in every area on a daily basis that it has just built like that over the years. I know you guys have heard me talk about being a consistent championship-caliber team. And with that comes really tough decisions, like, every day. Obviously, it's what you strive for. Everybody just kind of knows that. We don't talk about it. Yeah, of course everybody wants to be a world champion, everybody wants to win Super Bowls. But the manner in which we did it was a blast, the whole group. The culture that we are in is just awesome, just improving every single day. And that's a lot of things that you guys are probably not necessarily able to see. It's pretty cool. Video guys are really excited about new technology. Equipment guys are excited about ... It's just a whole organization. Everybody sees the players and the coaches, and obviously that's the ... the people over at Dino's aren't really fired up about what's going on with the video department, you know what I mean? It's just an exciting, exciting thing to see the whole building come together."
ANYTHING YOU CAN SPEAK TO ON MARSHAWN LYNCH?
"No. I mean, he;s under contract next year. He's a warrior. Goes out there every weekend and lays it on the line. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a better running back in the National Football League."
SO YOU ARE NOT "TIRED OF HIS ACT"?
"No. I kind of love his act."
HE'S NOT GOING TO TALK AT SUPER BOWL? YOU GETTING INVOLVED IN THAT? "You know, last year, last year we were involved a little bit. But I think Dave and his staff do a great job with that. So ... "
HOW DOES THAT WORK WHEN YOU'VE GOT FOLKS AT ODDS?
"I just kind of leave the building.
"Really, I honestly can't get into that. I mean, we have to support everybody, whether it's Marshawn Lynch or any other player. And we will continue to do that. Regarding the media, Dave and his staff do a phenomenal job with that."
ANYTHING YOU'VE SEEN REPORTED THAT YOU WANT RETRACTED IMMEDIATELY OR WE ALL LOSE OUR CREDENTIALS?
"That's awesome, man. Yeah ... no. Not off the top of my head. But, yes."