PALM BEACH, Fla.—Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and John Schneider met with the media on Tuesday from the NFL Annual Meeting, each spending more than half an hour talking about the team's offseason moves so far, what could be ahead, and an upcoming draft in which the Seahawks have more draft capital than they have in more than a decade.
In addition to Carroll's thoughts on Seattle’s situation at quarterback, as well as his excitement about Rashaad Penny’s re-signing and his thoughts on the league’s new overtime rule, here are 5 things we learned from Carroll and Schneider's sessions with the media:
1. Carroll likes the depth and talent at center.
The Seahawks may very well have a new starting center in 2022, having signed Austin Blythe in free agency, and with Blythe, who previously played for offensive coordinator Shane Waldron and offensive line coach Andy Dickerson in Los Angeles, along with Kyle Fuller and Dakoda Shepley all competing at that spot, Carroll likes what his team has at center at this point in the offseason.
"I think it's as loaded as it can get. Austin Blythe is a really good football player in our program. And the background that Andy's had with him and Shane has had with him, the reason that they championed getting him back is because of his smarts and his control and his command.
Carroll noted Blythe having a different style of play and size from some of Seattle's recent, taller centers like Justin Britt and Ethan Pocic, and also praised Blythe's background as a state champion wrestler in Iowa, but what stands out most is how he will be able to help a new quarterback and any young linemen playing around him.
The most valuable thing that he brings and will give him a chance to compete for the starting job is his command and his ability to help a new quarterback, possibly, and still young guards, possibly, with (Damien Lewis) playing and Phil Haynes battling with Gabe (Jackson) and all. There's some really good competition there. But he should be the kind of guy that helps guys play better around him. That's what we're counting on. Kyle did a nice job last year when he played. We're looking forward to Shep and see what he can do too. He hasn't really had a good opportunity yet; he's going to get one. Those guys are going to get a very competitive opportunity there and really want to see those guys all play and battle and show us what they got. So we have flexibility. We've got depth and we've got maybe a new aspect to our leadership in that position that could make an impact."
2. The secondary could be, "one of our best groups that we've had."
By re-signing Quandre Diggs, the Seahawks made sure that they're bringing back a pair of Pro-Bowl safeties in Diggs and Jamal Adams, and while the Seahawks did lose a starting cornerback in D.J. Reed, they are returning Sidney Jones IV and Tre Brown, and also added Artie Burns and Justin Coleman, the latter of whom thrived as Seattle's nickel corner in 2017 and 2018. That group, as well as the impact new coaches like Sean Desai and Karl Scott can have on the defense, has Carroll very excited about the secondary.
"We feel pretty confident that we know what we got," Carroll said. "I know we didn't see a lot of Tre Brown, but we feel like we got a good feel for him. He just did not take any side steps along the way. We had to just believe what we were seeing and give him enough opportunity, so he's there. Sidney coming back. Sidney really developed and his confidence really showed. So we feel strong about what he can do as well. So we'll see how this position continues to grow. Artie Burns is coming in. We've got background on him, we've coached him before with our guys, and he's a premier athlete for the position. Ugo Amadi, the nickel spot. We're going to take a look at Blair again to see what Marquise looks like back at the nickel spot—remember, we started with him. So, that's a very competitive spot for Justin to enter into. We've got two pounders for safeties that we love, with leadership and toughness and playmaking and all that. I think it's going to be one of our best groups that we've had. It's just got to all come together for us. I'm really excited about the way that we're coaching them. The guys that are bringing in their stuff, and the way that they'll teach them our football. It's going to be exciting to see that develop."
And while Schneider is always looking to improve the roster and is never one to feel content about any position group, cornerback included, he does like how that position is shaping up so far.
"We feel good about it," he said. "Getting Sidney back was huge. Tre had a knee surgery, so he should be healthier than he was last year—he had a little bit of a setback last year. Artie's really cool too. We tried signing him two years ago. We feel good about it. We feel really good about it."
Check out photos of Head Coach Pete Carroll at the Annual League Meeting in Palm Beach, Florida on March 29, 2022.
3. The Seahawks hope to get a DK Metcalf extension done this offseason.
With receiver DK Metcalf heading into the final year of his four-year rookie contract, the Seahawks hope to get an extension done this offseason—common practice for Seattle with its top players over the years—though those negotiations haven't really gotten underway just yet. In the past, the Seahawks have, with a couple of exceptions, waited to negotiate contract extensions until later in the offseason, using March and April to focus on free agency and the draft before later turning their attention to getting deals done with players still under contract.
"We intend for him to be with us," Carroll said. "We'd love to figure that out. We're in a normal kind of mode this time of year; we're not to that topic yet specifically, because we've got so many other things going on, but we'd love to have him. There's no way I could imagine playing without him."
Schneider reiterated that the plan is to get a deal done with Metcalf, but admitted there was a bit of a shock to see the big contracts recently signed by Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill, who both got huge new deals with the salary cap expected to grow significantly over the next few years.
"This is the market, so we'll get to that when we get to it," Schneider said. "But yeah, there is a bit of 'Whoa!" But then you have to figure out, 'OK, where's the cap going, what's it look like and how do you build your team?' We do that every day, we're constantly moving stuff around."
4. Scheme changes affected roster moves on the defensive line.
The Seahawks released two players who were significant parts of the defensive line rotation last year, defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr. and linebacker Carlos Dunlap II. And while, as Carroll noted, there were financial considerations behind those moves, another factor was the changes in defense the Seahawks are making this year, specifically going to more of a 3-4 defense that calls for outside linebackers who have a slightly different makeup that the ends Seattle used in its previous defense.
"You can see we put together a different group is what's happened. Getting Uchenna (Nwosu) was really a big deal to us. Seeing the development of Darrell (Taylor) was important to us. We thought that we could make a shift there. And obviously there's always a financial issue. Those are the decisions that fall into the category of the really tough ones this time of year.
"I hope you can see that the combination of what we've done with Quinton (Jefferson) coming in and also Shelby (Harris), there's a whole group there that we're really excited about that gives us a different kind of flavor and a complement to the big guys that we like playing in the early downs. So it's really those four guys, plus the ability to move that thing around, Alton Robinson as well, and we'll see how that all fits, but it looks like it's a big change for us."
Another factor that Schneider pointed out is that, with fewer off-ball linebackers on the roster, rotational edge rushers need to contribute on special teams more so than an end might have in the past.
"When you view those outside edge rushers, those guys have to be special teams players in a 3-4," Schneider said. "Dom Capers, when Mike (McCarthy) hired him in Green Bay, my last year there, it just makes your special teams that much better."
That being said…
5. The door is open to a possible Dunlap return.
While Dunlap was released for the second time in as many offseasons, there is a possibility he could come back, Schneider said, just as he did last year after testing the market, then re-signing with Seattle.
"With Carlos, we're keeping the door open to bring him back because he's such a good pass rusher," Schneider said.