Former Bellevue High star Steve Schilling, who played center for the Seahawks last season and whom the team hoped will return, will retire. That, and more Seahawks notes from coach Pete Carroll.
Steve Schilling, who started three games at center for the Seahawks last season and whom the team had hoped to re-sign as they seek to beef up the spot in the wake of the Max Unger trade, said today he is retiring.
The 26-year-old Schilling was a standout at Bellevue High and regarded as one of the top recruits in the nation in 2006, and then played four seasons at Michigan. He played four more years in the NFL with the Chargers, and last year with the Seahawks, playing in eight games overall before suffering a knee injury that ended his season.
Schilling, though, said the knee was not a primary reason in his decision.
“There were a lot of things, I would say,” he said. “Just a personal choice for me at this time in my life. I wouldn’t say there was any one reason or not. Just more of a personal choice.’’
Schilling was an unrestricted free agent but said the Seahawks became particularly interested in bringing him back after the trade of Unger.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said after the University of Washington’s Pro Day Thursday that he had “high hopes” of the team bringing Schilling back.
“We were excited about it,” he said.
Schilling said the decision had nothing to do with the Seahawks, saying that he loved playing in Seattle and for Carroll and offensive line coach Tom Cable.
“I had more fun playing last year than I’ve had in a while,” he said.
He said that made his decision even tougher.
“It was really difficult,” Schilling said. “But at this point in time it’s just the right decision for me.’’
Seattle has three centers on its current roster — Patrick Lewis, who started four games last season; recent free agent signee Jared Wheeler, who spent part of the preseason last year on the rosters with Buffalo and Carolina; and Drew Nowak, who spent last season on the practice squad. Lemuel Jeanpierre, who started three game last year after being brought back at mid-season, is a free agent.
The Seahawks have been avidly searching for a veteran free agent to fill in depth at center, this week getting a visit from Chris Myers, who spent the last seven seasons with Houston. But Seattle could be waiting until after a May 12 deadline when unrestricted free agents no longer mean giving up a compensatory draft pick to sign a veteran. Seattle also has 11 picks in the draft and could take a center there.
Speaking of the team’s needs in general on Thursday, said there are a number of things the team still wants to do and that “there are a few signings that will happen in time. But it takes time. Kind of have to wait out the process.”
Carroll said the team would not be adverse to drafting a center and having him start next season if necessary.
“We’ve had rookies start everywhere over the years,” he said. “Just depends on the guy and if that happened these guys are going to have to be really good, have his act together and all that and have to beat out some guys that are in our system pretty good, too. So we’ll see how it goes”
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Asked about the difficult of a rookie starting at center, Carroll said: “This will be an interesting competition. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a lot to ask a guy, yeah. A lot to ask. That position can be the key position in kind of being the quarterback of the front, so it’s a lot to ask a young guy. Just depends on where he comes from, what his makeup is, how he handles stuff and all of that. And like always, we will look at whoever the guy is and we will adapt accordingly to match up what we need to do. Sometimes responsibilities have to be shifted a little bit because of the makeup of the guys that you have at any spot.”
In a few other notes. …
— Carroll confirmed that because of an NFL penalty assessed against Seattle last year for violating rules on how to practice during the off-season, the Seahawks will have just one mini-camp practice. Seattle’s mini-camp will be June 16-18. Carroll said the players will be in town all of those days in meetings and other off-field work but only on the field once. But he did not say which day.
— Carroll reiterated what he said last week that the team hopes to re-sign Tarvaris Jackson as a backup quarterback. “Hope so,” he said, calling it one of “number of things we are working to get done.”
— Asked about the progress of contract talks with Russell Wilson, Carroll said: “Ongoing. Just ongoing. Really, that’s all you can really say about it. But it’s underway.’’
— Carroll said he was impressed by what he saw at UW’s Pro Day, specifically key defensive players such as Shaq Thompson, Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha — Seattle’s defensive coaching staff appeared to all attend the Pro Day, as well as GM John Schneider. “I think this group of guys is a really good group, now. I can see why they had a good, solid team again last year. These guys off this defensive team, they were productive. Really big production, The nose tackle had all those numbers and Kikaha had all those sacks and stuff. That’s a good group. And Shaq back there playing, that’s a good group of guys now. All of those guys could play on an NFL team and so I think that stands out a little bit from other years I have been out here.”
— Carroll and Schneider talked for a while afterward with Keith Price, who attended the day and threw passes to Kasen Williams and other receivers. Carroll spoke highly of what he saw from Price, and when asked if he might be willing to give Price another chance with the Seahawks said “yeah, yeah. Threw well again today.” He was also asked what Price needs to do to become an NFL quarterback and said: “I think he’s really close. He really is a QB. He’s got the poise and the stature and the mentality of handling the position and all. He’s very cool and calm about stuff and very articulate around the huddle and calling stuff at the line of scrimmage. He’s got a very good presence and all that. Very accurate thrower. He’s not a big arm thrower, but he’s a very accurate thrower. You can see him throw the deep ball — he threw the ball 60 yards out there so he ripped it. I think it’s just a matter of time. He’s got to get his break and his opportunity to show it. He has a lot of the stuff that is hard to find. The intangibles are there.”
— Carroll also talked about the re-signing of Will Tukuafu and the fullback position. Carroll said Tukuafu will play fullback, defensive line and, intriguingly, that he could also do some tight end blocking stuff. “Will is going to do everything. His value is that he is so versatile. We are planning on going further with it. He is big enough at 280 he can get into tight end positions in some blocking situations. So we are going to see how far we can expand his role. And in that I don’t know how that’s going to work but we are going to let the competition play out at fullback. But he’s got other things he does well, too. Derrick (Coleman) is a great special teams guy, one of our top guys. So he has tremendous value to our club, too. So we have to figure it out. See what happens.”
— Carroll said Coleman will be fully recovered from the broken foot he suffered last season when the team begins its off-season program later this month. “He’ll be full go by the time we return,” he said.