The Seahawks announced Friday they have signed coach Pete Carroll to a new three-year contract, keeping him with the team through the 2016 season.
And while general manager John Schneider later insisted the length of the contract sort of just happened as Carroll and the team negotiated, it was hard to miss its significance.
In a much more hushed manner a year ago, Schneider also agreed to a new deal with the Seahawks through the 2016 season.
Carroll’s new contract assures the two men who arrived in 2010 with a bold plan to remake the Seahawks into an NFL power — then accomplished it with a speed that few could have imagined — will remain in lockstep in Seattle for at least three more seasons.
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“(What) this commitment does for us (it means) John and I will be together for a long time,’’ Carroll said during a news conference at the team’s complex in Renton. “And we are thrilled about that.’’
Carroll and Schneider shared the podium during the news conference, which they jokingly referred to as a “love fest’’ as they lobbed compliments back and forth. Schneider agreed with an assessment of Carroll as one of the best coaches in football history; Carroll said Schneider should one day be regarded as one of the game’s greatest general managers.
Through the laughs, though, each also made it clear they understood that Seattle’s ascension has been a group effort.
“To see these guys come together over the last four seasons and the fact that we have an opportunity to keep it going is such a cool thing,’’ said team president Peter McLoughlin. “What Pete said about John in terms of what kind of a general manager he is in our sport, and all sports, is really true. He’s got a unique talent. And Pete is a great motivator and a great coach. So it’s fun to be a part of it. It really is.’’
Carroll had no plans on leaving the fun any time soon.
Still, Carroll was entering the final season of his original $35 million, five-year deal he signed upon arriving in 2010, and Schneider said it was “a huge priority’’ to make it clear that Carroll will stay put, as much for the message it will send to players as anything else.
“We’re trying to take care of our own people and keep our core of young players together,’’ Schneider said. “But where do you start? You start at the top.’’
Other than the length, the team did not release details of the new deal. But the word around the league is that it could make Carroll as well-compensated as any coach in the NFL, possibly in the same $8 million-per-year range as New England’s Bill Belichick, who is regarded as the highest-paid coach in the league.
Carroll, who had brushed off questions about his contract status during and shortly after the season, said he wasn’t worried about the details — and he said in a later interview with SportsRadio KJR he plans to coach the Seahawks beyond 2016.
“It was important to me (to get the contract done) because it was important to them,’’ he said. “Whether this came about or not I was going to keep busting it and going for it, it wasn’t going to matter in that regard. But I think the statement that they wanted to validate the commitment to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it is extraordinary.’’
If the new contract meant anything to Carroll personally, it might simply have been further validating the success he has had in his third NFL coaching job.
Carroll was fired by the New York Jets after a 6-10 season in 2004, and by the New England Patriots after going 27-21 from 1997 to 1999.
But after reviving his career with a nine-year run at USC that included seven Pac-10 titles, the 62-year-old Carroll has led Seattle to a 43-28 record, including playoffs, third-most wins in team history after Mike Holmgren (90-80) and Chuck Knox (83-67). Carroll’s .605 winning percentage is the best in team history.
Friday, Carroll recalled the initial meetings with Seattle’s front office in early 2010 when the team was looking for a successor for Jim Mora, who had been fired. He’d had other offers to return to the NFL, but said he felt a “trust’’ from the Seahawks that he would be free to do things his way. He also recalled that he didn’t want to be a general manager, and that he knew quickly during the hiring process that Schneider, then the director of football operations for the Green Bay Packers, would be the perfect fit.
Now, having worked together to lead Seattle to a Super Bowl victory, their task is to keep the Seahawks on top, a challenge they readily embrace.
Carroll indicated there could be more news conferences to announce extensions for some of the team’s players, such as safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman.
“There’s no reason that either one of us thinks, ‘OK, we did this one time and that was it,’ ’’ Carroll said. “We think we are right in the middle of a great opportunity here.’’
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699
On Twitter @bcondotta