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Keeping their own, and adding to it
As the first weekend of NFL free agency was approaching, the national perception was that the Seahawks had done very little, at best; and nothing, at worst.
The smile on Pete Carroll’s face said otherwise, as did his quick, but telling comment last Friday.
“We’re doing great,” the team’s third-year coach said.
And that was before the Seahawks got agreements over the weekend with quarterback Matt Flynn and pass-rushing defensive lineman Jason Jones – acquisitions that scratched two of the team’s larger itches entering the offseason.
Yes, Carroll felt good about the situations with Flynn and Jones after they had visited Virginia Mason Athletic Center on Thursday and Friday. But he also was extremely pleased over two huge moves that had eluded a football nation transfixed by what Peyton Manning’s next move might be.
“Free agency for us was to get our own guys – that was the start of it,” Carroll on Monday.
And it started with the top two priorities: Retaining leading rusher Marshawn Lynch, without using the franchise tag; and getting an agreement with run-stuffing, kick-blocking defensive end Red Bryant before he could test the free-agent market.
Check, and check.
And check out what else Carroll, general manager John Schneider and vice president of football administration/salary cap guru/lead negotiator John Idzik were able to do before dipping into the pool of free agents from other teams. The club also reached agreements with Pro Bowl fullback Michael Robinson; versatile and valuable offensive linemen Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan; and linebacker/special teams standout Heath Farwell, who led the NFL in coverage tackles last season.
“The fact that we were able to do that with Marshawn and come back with Red, Mike Robinson and on down the line, this has been really important to us,” Carroll said.
And they’re not done. Tight end Visanthe Shiancoe (Vikings) visited and expected to visit are tight end Jacob Tamme (Colts) and running back Michael Bush (Raiders), as Carroll looks for a tight end to complement and team with Zach Miller, who was signed in free agency last year; and a more physical back to spell and share some of the load with Lynch.
“We still have things we’re working on. We have a number of different irons in the fire to see what we can turn up,” Carroll said.
That’s after turning up just right, and then some, by retaining Lynch, Bryant and others, as well as adding Flynn and Jones.
Carroll on Jones: “This is an exciting acquisition for us. We really have needed since the day we got here an inside pass-rush ability. Jason has unusual quickness for a long, tall guy and has a good knack for rushing inside. We’re hoping that we can really feature him in all of our nickel package stuff and also fit him in to other situations that will suit him. He’s got big-play ability in him. He attacks the football really well. He forces fumbles. He knocks down passes. And he’s got an activity about him that we think really cam help us and enhance our pass rush that needs to continue to grow.”
Carroll on Flynn, and the competition for the starting job with incumbent starter Tarvaris Jackson: “T-Jack has an opportunity to continue to get much better. With Matt coming in, I think we really are going to make this a very highly contested spot. But with depth and with the kind of competitiveness that can give us a real good 1-2 punch, however it works out.”
What’s next? “Now we’re trying to add and we’ve had a real clear thought,” Carroll said.
Things, however, wouldn’t be as clear without getting those early agreements with players the Seahawks simply could not afford to lose. It didn’t just set a precedent, it sent a message.
“I think with anybody that joins this team, they can feel the energy of it,” Carroll said. “And the guys that we brought in during the recruiting process here can all sense where we’re coming from and it’s just because it’s the sense that we have that we’re going somewhere and we’re going to do something with the style and the toughness about us and the physical nature that we all like being a part of.
“I think Marshawn is a big statement about that. Red is a statement about that. Those guys wanting to be a part of this thing, that’s the kind of players they are. I think there’s a very, very good feeling about what we’re trying to put together and we’re looking forward to getting started again.”