INDIANAPOLIS —Pete Carroll held a wide-ranging press conference from the NFL scouting combine Thursday, covering everything from coaching changes to injury updates to upcoming free agency.
1. The Seahawks have important players heading into free agency, and hope to keep as many as they can.
When the new league year begins later this month, several starters from last year's team will be free agents, including players like tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and receiver Paul Richardson. Carroll would like to keep as many of those players as he can, but also realizes the free-agent market will be a big factor in whether or not those players can be re-signed.
Asked about the possibility of keeping Graham, Carroll said, "I hope so, I'd love to keep him. We love Jimmy, we love what he did. He had a very effective year for us last year, we'd love to have him back. We'll see how it goes and see how the competition is for him.
"Keeping all of our guys are priorities. Nothing different. We have a number of guys out there that are really important to us, but it's all going to be up to the process of it and how (John Schneider) can wing (it) and see what's going on. Other teams will factor into as well in how they go at our guys, so we just have to wait and see what happens."
On Sheldon Richardson's play in 2017, Carroll said, "He's a really good ball player, really instinctive, he's really tough. Has a knack for being around the ball. He caused a lot of good stuff that happened for us last year when he didn't necessarily get the recorded sack and all but forced turnovers, turned the ball over got the ball himself. A good football player."
As for whether or not the Seahawks would consider using the franchise tag on the defensive tackle, Carroll said, "All those choices are out there."
2. Duane Brown will make an even bigger impact in 2018.
Veteran left tackle Duane Brown played very well for the Seahawks after arriving in a midseason trade, and did so despite sustaining a high-ankle sprain not long after joining the team. But for as well as Brown played, he should be an even bigger factor going forward, not just because he'll be healthy and have a full offseason with the Seahawks, but also because he will help young players around him.
"I think it's a tremendous boost to us," Carroll said. "He did a fantastic job and remember he came in and his second game he got a high-ankle sprain and he didn't miss a trick. Lots of guys could not have gone through that like he did. He played really well under those conditions. His leadership, his experience, his toughness, his accountability that he brings is a great boost to us coming back. To have your left tackle coming back and you know what you've got—you've got a real-deal guy right there that you know what you've got—it's a great value. He's going to affect other guys too, other players. He didn't have much of a chance to do that coming in at midseason so I think all of the, as we look forward there are a bunch of positives coming out of that."
3. DeShawn Shead could be an option at safety.
DeShawn Shead, the Seahawks' starting right cornerback in 2016, is set to become a free agent this offseason, but if the Seahawks do bring him back, he could be an option at more than one position. Before establishing himself as a starter at cornerback, Shead was a versatile defensive back whose experience included starting a game at strong safety and serving as a backup at both safety spots. The emergence of Shaquill Griffin at right corner could make it tough for Shead to get his starting job back—Shead missed almost all of the 2017 season due to a knee injury, playing only the final two games—so if Shead is back, his versatility could help him find a role.
"We will talk to him about that," Carroll said of Shead playing safety. "He's such a versatile player, he has played both for us. We'll see what happens. We know he can play corner and we like the way he plays at corner, but everything is open. I have not talked directly to him about that, but we have mentioned it to him."
4. The Seahawks are "really excited" about Chris Carson.
Chris Carson won the starting running back job as a rookie, only to see his season end after just four games due to a leg injury. Carroll said at the end of the season that the Seahawks want to add more competition to the running back group, but regardless of how things play out this offseason, they're excited about what they have in Carson.
"Man, we are really excited about Chris," Carroll said. "He didn't do anything that we weren't excited about. The style of running—tough, physical, explosive, great catcher. And a very well-advanced blocker for a first-year guy in the league. We just loved everything he did. So I'm really excited to get him back into it. He'll come back, with all of our guys, healthy, which was such a big—really, the last two years has been really difficult at the running-back spot, just keeping guys healthy. Now they are all back, ready to roll in camp. It will be great to see the battle that will take place. And Chris has got a place in there. He's really shown us a lot of good things. He will be a year older, more experienced, all that, from this first go-around. I can only hope that will be more exciting."
5. Carroll's thoughts on potentially changing pass interference to a 15-yard penalty.
The NFL is reportedly considering changing defensive pass interference from a spot foul to a 15-yard penalty. Having coached in the college ranks, where pass interference is a 15-yarder, and with a long history of coaching defensive backs, Carroll offered his thoughts on that possible change.
"It would change a little bit, but right now guys are trying to not interfere," he said. "They're working like crazy to not interfere; that's not going to change, that part of it will be the same. There may be some grabbing when you really get beat bad at times. You'd want to use that like we did in college. We talk about that—if you're really beat bad, grab the guy. It's 15 yards, like an out route as opposed to a deep ball. So there's some thought about that. We'll see what happens."
Photos from Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll's visits with the media on Thursday at the 2018 NFL Combine.