INDIANAPOLIS —The Seahawks went 9-7 in 2017, missing the postseason for the first time in six years and for just the second time in eight seasons under head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Nobody was happy about those results, and with pre-draft preparation in full swing at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, the Seahawks are in the midst of what Schneider called a "fun challenge" when it comes to getting the franchise back to where it wants to be.
Schneider addressed the media Friday to discuss that challenge and a number of other topics. Here are six things we learned from the Seahawks GM:
1. Schneider described this offseason as "a reset."
From 2012 to 2016, the Seahawks made the playoffs every year while winning at least 10 games per season, and they went to the Super Bowl twice, winning it once. So while 9-7 is hardly a disastrous season, it's understandable that Schneider said the team was "pretty disappointed the way the season ended. We went 9-7 and you would have thought that we won two games. It's a pit that sits in your stomach and really fuels you. We're excited about the challenges ahead, because we feel like we want to get rolling on this thing."
Schneider called this offseason, "a fun challenge right now. It's like a reset—OK, how did we get here? We got here drafting players and putting guys on the field."
Which brings us to item No. 2…
2. The Seahawks are counting on young players to step up.
The Seahawks rose to prominence under Carroll and Schneider in no small part due to the incredibly successful draft classes the team had in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Since then, the Seahawks have drafted a lot of good players, but some young players have had a hard time breaking through. Schneider admits that the Seahawks, like any team, have missed on some choices over the years, but it has also been harder for young players to earn bigger roles because of the talent in front of them. Regardless of who is on the roster, Schneider wants young players from recent draft classes to take that next step and push for more playing time.
"It has been hard for these guys to get out there, especially on defense," Schneider said. "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 and I talk about it all the time—no one's talking about Delano (Hill) or (Tedric) Thompson. Those guys are good football players. … 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?"
Throughout his press conference, Schneider mentioned players from recent draft classes for whom the team has high expectations.
"The last two years, really. We're looking for those guys to—look, we need C.J. (Prosise) to be a reliable dude," Schneider said. "He's an extremely talented guy. There's guys from last year's class, Amara (Darboh), Delano, Tedric, we want those guys to get rolling. They've got to get out there and prove that reliability and not just be happy to be in Seattle because they're playing for a good football team and just kind of admiring these guys. No, you're there to compete man. We need you."
3. The Seahawks are "open to anything" this time of year.
With the coaches, scouts, executives, media members and agents all in one city this week, reports of potential roster moves and trades are inevitable during the combine. Schneider wouldn't get into specifics on individual players, but just as was the case last year when he and Carroll were open about the fact that they would at least consider trading Richard Sherman, a move that never materialized, Schneider said he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't at least consider all types of moves this time of year.
"It's this time of the year," Schneider said. "The combine has really developed into a lot more of the—I have a couple friends in baseball, it's kind of like the baseball meetings. So I've been here since Monday night and I've literally been in meetings the whole time, whether it's league meetings, committee meetings, I met with the NCAA yesterday. We're just constantly talking to people all the time. Part of our challenge right now is sustaining our level of success that we've had, and we're just open to anything.
"I told you guys this when we got here in 2010, we're going to be in every deal, and you want to be able to walk away," he added. "You don't want to miss any opportunity, and that's how we built this thing and that's how we're going to continue to build it."
4. The Seahawks want to retain free agents, but the roster is "a constant puzzle."
When asked about pending free agents such as Sheldon Richardson, Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson, Schneider echoed the sentiments shared by Carroll a day earlier, which is basically that the Seahawks would love to have everyone back, but have to wait and see how things play out in free agency. Schneider did indicate that at this time they weren't likely to use the franchise tag on Sheldon Richardson, but there is still time to make that decision should they decide to go that route.
"We want all these guys back," Schneider said. "It's just a constant puzzle. I know you guys are probably tired of hearing that. But it's this constant puzzle. You're trying to put stuff together all the time. It's a big challenge. The cool thing we have going for us is that March 14 is when we kind of get back, we're going to get back into the office, recalibrate after studying this whole weekend, listen to everything we're listening to, sit down and make some sound decisions. Pete and I have a lot to discuss."
5. The Seahawks have eight draft picks, but none in Rounds 2 and 3, which Schneider calls "a fun challenge."
The league has not yet released the entire seven-round draft order, though that will likely happen soon, but Schneider did confirm that the Seahawks will head into the draft with eight picks, a first-rounder (18th overall), a fourth, three fifths, and three sevenths. Seattle gave up its second-round pick in the trade that brought Sheldon Richardson to Seattle, and their third-rounder in the trade for Duane Brown.
"Right now we're sitting here specifically without a two and a three, which is a really fun challenge for us," Schneider said. "Like all right, how do we figure out how to compensate for those openings?"
If past history is any indicator, the Seahawks could look to move back in the first round to compensate for those openings. Schneider has made no secret of the fact that he enjoys moving back to acquire more picks if the trade makes sense, and just last year the Seahawks traded back multiple times before making their first pick, eventually turning their first pick, No. 26 overall, into four total picks, a second-rounder (34th overall), a third, a fourth and a seventh.
6. Schneider got emotional talking about former Packers general manager Ted Thompson.
Longtime Packers general manager Ted Thompson transitioned into a new role this offseason, and as a result he isn't at this year's combine. His absence has been felt by many, including Schneider, who worked with Thompson both in his first stint with the Seahawks as well as for several years in Green Bay. When asked about Thompson, Schneider choked up talking about his former boss.
"He's a special guy you know?" Schneider said. "And he did it his own way. His personality, just quiet, ethical, great character, high character. We miss him down here, you know?"
Photos from Seahawks general manager John Schneider's visits with the media on Friday at the 2018 NFL Combine.