Could the Detroit Lions lure Seahawks general manager John Schneider out of Seattle to rebuild their struggling franchise?
A report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on Sunday morning suggested they could by offering him total control, something he doesn’t have in Seattle, where Pete Carroll has final say over personnel matters.
Rapoport stated that another team could also approach Schneider, writing: “Under the NFL’s anti-tampering policy, the Lions or another team could try to interview Schneider if it offered him full control. Another team is also likely going to make a run at Schneider.” (Other teams with GM openings are Atlanta, Carolina, Houston, Jacksonville and Washington.)
Asked about the report during his weekly appearance on the team’s pregame radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle on Sunday morning, Schneider said he’s happy in Seattle but didn’t directly refute the specifics of the report.
“Tracy (Schneider’s wife) and I love it here,” he said. “Great team, great ownership, coach Carroll, the city as well, everything,” Schneider said. He went on to says this is “the worst weekend in the NFL” because of all the firings and job openings that occur, which lead to “tons of rumors” and confirmed that other teams are “looking at our coaches, looking at our personnel people.” He ultimately concluded “that’s about that. We’re good.”
Schneider was hired by the Seahawks in 2010 shortly after Carroll, who oversaw the process of hiring a GM from a list of four candidates supplied by the team, which had already begun a preliminary search for a GM before hiring Carroll. Schneider was the Director of Football Operations for the Green Bay Packers.
Carroll and Schneider have been viewed as generally working in lockstep with few, if any, major disagreements on personnel issues. But the ability to hire his own head coach and have total authority could be tempting for Schneider, who is completing his 11th year with the team.
Rapoport stated that Schneider’s contract runs out after the 2021 season, but it officially goes through the 2022 NFL draft in the spring. Carroll recently signed an extension through the 2025 season.
Carroll and Schneider have typically had contracts that kept them on the same timeline. Each signed deals within a few days of each other in 2016 (Carroll’s at that time through 2019 and Schneider’s through the 2022 draft).
Pro Football Talk noted that Schneider, who will turn 50 in May, “isn’t paid at the top of the GM market. He’s believed to be prepared to become a free agent in 2022, if he doesn’t get a market-value deal from the Seahawks.”
PFT also noted that the Lions, or any other team, might have to pay compensation to the Seahawks if they were to hire Schneider away, stating that it could come down to how the NFL defines what authority Schneider actually has in Seattle.
“The NFL.com article uses the phrase ‘primary authority,’ but quite possibly confuses that term with ‘final authority,”’ PFT wrote. “Schneider is the general manager; even if Pete Carroll can overrule Schneider via ‘final authority,’ Schneider most likely possesses the ‘primary authority.’ (The fact that the anti-tampering policy uses both ‘final authority’ and ‘primary authority’ means that there’s a tangible difference between the terms.) At the absolute bare minimum, the situation isn’t nearly as simple and clean as the NFL.com article suggests.”
That provision could allow the Seahawks to not give permission to any team to talk to Schneider without the promise of compensation.
The Packers tried to interview Schneider in 2018, but the Seahawks denied them the right to interview Schneider, who grew up in De Pere, Wisconsin, about six miles from Green Bay (Schneider once had an out clause in his contract with Seattle allowing him to go to Green Bay, but that was not included in his most recent deal). One thought then was that Green Bay could have kept pursing Schneider had it wanted to offer compensation to Seattle.
Regardless, the presence of the NFL.com story, the league’s official media arm, seems to make clear that other teams might try to lure Schneider from Seattle and that he might have interest — after 11 years with the Seahawks and knowing Carroll isn’t going anywhere soon — in running his own show. Or at the least, that Schneider may be hoping to get a new deal with the Seahawks sooner rather than later to provide some clarity to his future.
Schneider once said he had briefly thought of turning down a chance to interview with the Seahawks in 2010 after Carroll was hired in part because he wouldn’t have say over who the head coach would be. Schneider and Carroll had no real relationship at the time, saying they had met just once before.
“I was getting ready to hire a head coach if I got the job,” Schneider was quoted as saying last year by Seahawks.com. “I had head-coaching candidate names, right? My opinions on those guys, the criteria of what you’re looking for in a head coach. Tod Leiweke (at the time, the CEO of the Seahawks) had said, ‘Hey, I still really want you to come in for this interview.’ Like I told you, I was shocked. I was like ‘Wow, why would I leave Green Bay?'”
But Schneider took the interview, famously hit it off with Carroll, and was officially hired on Jan. 19, 2010, just eight days after Carroll.
Together, they have built one of the most successful teams in the NFL over the past 11 years, with the Seahawks winning their fifth division title in that time last week and making it to the postseason nine times, along with two Super Bowl appearances.
In 2013, Schneider added the title of executive vice president as well as general manager, with the team’s website stating, “In his role, he manages all aspects of the Seahawks roster and draft process while working collaboratively with Pete Carroll in all facets of the football operations department.”
The Lions would certainly represent an immense challenge. Detroit hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991, has made the playoffs only twice since 2011 and is starting over after firing coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn in November. The Lions also have an aging quarterback in Matthew Stafford, who will turn 33 in February, and it’s unclear if he will remain with the Lions.
But a hefty salary and running his own show might be appealing to Schneider — or at the least, the prospect he could leave could prompt Seattle to give him a big raise.
Intriguingly, the NFL Media report on Schneider broke the same morning it was also reported that Detroit “covets” Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert (who spent 10 years in the Lions’ organization), but that he is staying put.
Carroll often goes out of his way to volunteer praise for Schneider, including last week for the decision in August to claim cornerback D.J. Reed off waivers from the 49ers when Reed had a pectoral muscle injury that the 49ers thought meant he might not be able to play all season.
Reed instead recovered and has become a key player for Seattle, emerging as the starter at right cornerback over the last month of the year and giving Schneider credit for seeing that the 5-foot-9 Reed could play on the outside.
“I don’t think this was luck,” Carroll said this week of plucking Reed away. “I think John knew. John had it. John and his guys that do the evaluations, they knew he was a good enough football player to play nickel, safety, or corner.
“That’s what came right in from the first day we were talking about him. … I didn’t (see that Reed could play outside). John did. That’s the importance. We work together, and he helps me out sometimes when I make mistakes. Fortunately, as it started to happen, we saw some opportunities for him to play, we got the conversation going, and I said, sure enough, let’s try him. There was no question that he could factor in. The only problems were my shortcomings.”