Presumably, quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner won't be going anywhere soon, but Schneider said nothing is off the table.
INDIANAPOLIS — Seahawks general manager John Schneider says the team’s approach this offseason is really no different than any other.
“You don’t want to miss any opportunity,’’ Schneider said Friday at the NFL Combine in what were his first comments to the media since the end of the 2017 season. “That’s how we built this thing and that’s how we are going to continue to build it.’’
So if that means trading Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas then so be it.
While Schneider said he wouldn’t comment on rumors involving specific players, Schneider said that the team would rule out nothing as it attempts to get back to the playoffs in 2018 after missing out last year with a 9-7 record that was Seattle’s worst since 2011.
“We are just constantly talking to people all the time,’’ Schneider said in response to a question about Bennett, whom it is rumored Seattle is looking to trade and could release if nothing materializes. “Part of our challenge right now is, I want to say this appropriately, but it’s sustaining our level of success that we’ve had. And we are just open to anything.’’
Asked if there are any untouchables, Schneider said no.
“Not at this time of year, you know what I mean?” he said. “I told you guys when we got here in 2010 we are going to be in every deal. … Now do we have some challenges this year? Absolutely. We are pretty disappointed the way the season ended. We went 9-7 and you would have thought we won two games. It’s a pit that sits in your stomach and really fuels you and we are excited about the challenges ahead because we feel like we want to get rolling on this thing.’’
But how the Seahawks plan to do that Schneider was predictably vague.
About the only specifics he allowed is that the team is not likely to place the franchise tag on defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, with Schneider saying the team will not do it “at this point’’ and that he also has met with representatives for Thomas, who has said he might hold out if he does not get a contract extension prior to the 2018 season, which has led to the idea that Seattle could look to trade him if it thinks a deal might not get done.
Intriguingly, Schneider said that the team’s precedent of trying to re-sign core players before they enter the final year of their contract doesn’t necessarily apply in Thomas’ situation.
“Well, it’s a little different,” Schneider said. “This would be his third (contract). It’s a little different situation than when you have a guy coming off his rookie deal and then you are just going on a second contract.”
The Seahawks, though, would probably want to avoid the potential of a holdout — or of Thomas walking away a year from now in free agency for only a third-round comp pick.
Presumably, the Seahawks would have a few untouchables — quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner wouldn’t seem to be going anywhere no matter what.
But Schneider’s willingness to admit that just about anything could be considered — even if it’s something he might say at this time of year in any season — speaks to the uncertain state of the franchise as the new league year gets set to begin on March 14.
As Schneider stated, Seattle is in a spot it has not been at any time during the Wilson era of attempting to get back to being considered an elite team.
Asked what area of the team he thinks needs to be addressed the most, Schneider said everything.
“We look at it as everything,’’ he said. “You guys have seen us operate and we are not afraid of anything and we are going to get after it in every nook and cranny we possibly can.’’
So that indeed means the Seahawks are contemplating a heavy makeover this offseason.
Bennett, who turns 33 next season and has battled a slew of injuries the past two years, could yield a draft pick or two in a year when Seattle has the 18th pick in the first round but then none until the fourth, as well as saving the team $2.2 million in salary cap money.
Sherman wouldn’t seem likely to be attractive in a trade since he is coming off a torn Achilles tendon (as well as a cleanup surgery on his other Achilles). But you never know.
The team would likely prefer not to have to deal Thomas. But if Seattle could really get a first-round pick as well as another somewhere else, it might have to consider it rather than risk losing Thomas in free agency after this season.
Intriguingly, Schneider specifically cited safeties Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson when talking about young players he expects to play significant roles in the team’s future. Hill could be a replacement for strong safety Kam Chancellor while Thompson is being groomed as a free safety, Thomas’ position.
Schneider laughed in recalling that an agent he met with here told him “it was a fun run, something like that.” Schneider said he responded “what are you talking about?”
Schneider said the team’s goal remains the same — to be, as he put it, a “consistent, championship-caliber team” — something he said he’s confident remains in reach for 2018 despite the stumbles of a year ago.
“You know, it’s a fun challenge right now,” he said. “It’s like a reset: OK, how did we get here? We got here drafting players and putting guys on the field. I think it’s been hard over the last several drafts for–don’t get me wrong, we haven’t made some great decisions, the best decisions we could possibly make in certain situations, I don’t think anybody does.
“But it’s been hard for these guys to get out there, especially on defense. We put guys out there right away, particularly on defense. Look, Earl (Thomas) played right away. Sherm (Richard Sherman) played right away. Maxie (Byron Maxwell) would have played right away if he hadn’t gotten injured right away. Bobby (Wagner) played right away. K.J. (Wright). Those guys went, OK, here we go. And so it’s kind of a challenge and a mindset to get back to doing that–OK, let’s go. Let’s get these guys out there. Pete (Carroll) and I talk about it all the time: No one’s talking about Delano (Hill) or (Tedric) Thompson. Those guys who are…they are good football players. We took those guys higher–no disrespect to the guys we drafted in the past–but it’s been hard for those guys to get out there.
“And, you are getting to the point where we are interviewing these guys at the combine or you are at the school interviewing them, and they are thinking to themselves ‘Wow, I get to play with Kam Chancellor?’ No, you get to COMPETE with Kam Chancellor. That’s the mindset we have to get back to. They are a little bit in awe, you know. You know, they were in eighth grade.”
The steps that the Seahawks will take to get that done remain to be revealed, though Schneider’s comments indicated that just about anything might happen.
Seattle has already taken some steps with an overhaul of the coaching staff that included the firings of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Kris Richard and offensive line coach Tom Cable.
Schneider echoed what coach Pete Carroll had said the day before about the firings.
“It’s hard,” Schneider said. “It’s not fun it’s just part of our business. Those guys are all really, really good people and they all work their tails off and we have accomplished a lot of great things together. Pete and I talk about a lot of things, together we talk about everything together all the time and it just seemed like it was time. Not because any one of those coaches can’t do something, like it’s more about a specific trait. It’s more about how do we move forward into a next level.’’