In 2011, rookie
Last season, Baldwin and
The Seahawks’ current roster includes eight former rookie free agents – linebacker
All of this pertinent because the latest draft in NFL history will take place Thursday, Friday and Saturday – and the Seahawks have only six picks. And none of it is by mistake, because of the emphasis and energy the Seahawks put on and into what is essentially the eighth round of the seven-round selection process.
Once the final pick is made in the final round, the Seahawks really get busy.
“Stuff happens within minutes sometimes. The whole process of that is only an hour and a half or so, two-hours long. So it’s a big gold rush in a sense.”
The Seahawks have struck gold repeatedly, in part, because they respect the process – and also because the voice on their end of the phone belongs to Carroll, who has proven he’ll give those undrafted rookies a chance to compete.
“We’re thinking we’ve got to get a guy to fill a spot,” Carroll said. “Well, there’s a kid over there that’s waiting for his opportunity to play in the NFL. So we try to respect that, and respect the kid in the process and make sure he really understands what he needs to know and is very clear about it – and get him the information, and let him feel the energy and the juice about our program and all that.
“So there’s a lot going on.”
Does it work? The proof is in the number of former rookie free agents who have produced for the Seahawks – a group that also includes defensive lineman
And the proof to these players that they really were wanted came from Schneider as well as Carroll.
“John actually sent me a handwritten letter, and I still have it to this day,” Baldwin said after the second workout in Phase 2 of the Seahawks’ offseason program. “You could tell it was heartfelt, it was sincere, that he meant every word in it and that he was going to be trustworthy and honest.
“That kind of led me to the decision to come to Seattle.”
That, and then there was the fact that the Seahawks had taken former Stanford teammate
In that letter – which was sent during the lockout that erased the 2011 offseason – Schneider underlined the always-compete approach that has been a cornerstone of Carroll’s philosophy since he was hired in 2010.
“John told me he was going to give me an opportunity to come in here and compete, and that they needed a guy to come in here and move the chains and make plays on offense when given the opportunity,” Baldwin said. “So that was my mantra.
“They always stress competition about everything, so when I came here it truly was competition for me to get an opportunity and it was a legitimate competition.”
The Seahawks don’t just sign rookie free agents to fill out the 90-man roster they take to training camp. Because of Carroll’s experience of having players for only three or four seasons while coaching at the University of Southern California, he and his staff play the rookies to see if they can indeed play. They also accentuate what the players can do, rather than what they can’t do.
“I found a dedication to the younger guys was really crucial to us and to play guys early when you get them,” said Carroll, who was 97-19 at USC from 2001-09. “We’ve carried that over. And John and I talked that over when we first got together. He was surprised that I was so committed to young guys.”
“That’s because we need to see those guys,” Carroll said. “So we force them out there and want to get the evaluations and give them a great shot to show what they can do – and to show us and to show other teams as well.
“So this has become a good place for free agents to come because of that.”
And because of the Seahawks’ proven approach when it comes to those players who are passed over in the draft, which Carroll says is rooted several things.
“One, it’s that John spends so much time with his (staff) deep into the draft so our knowledge of the players that are available – whether they’re able to get drafted or not – is still really important to us,” he said. “That’s a huge emphasis for us, to know those guys all the way through the depths, not just being concerned with the top three or four rounds. That’s one, and then we are committed to playing them. So we find out whether they can play or not.
“I think all of that together is a big commitment from us in regard to the young guys. We’re totally committed to this.”
Just ask Doug Baldwin.
“It’s a testament to Pete and John and their philosophy,” Baldwin said. “And also to them being trustworthy and honest about what they say. It doesn’t matter where you come in at; you’re going to get an opportunity to showcase your talents. And if you are better than the next guy they’ll give you an opportunity to play.”
Even on an already deep, young, talented team that is the defending Super Bowl champion.