Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider met with the media ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, just as they do every year, only this time the two were in their respective homes, as were the members of the media asking questions, yet another example of how much things have changed for everyone during the COVID-19 crisis.
The two talked at length about how much different things will be in this year's draft and beyond, and you can read more about that here. In addition to that significant topic, here are five takeaways from Schneider and Carroll's time with the media:
1. The door is still open for a Jadeveon Clowney return.
The Seahawks added Jadeveon Clowney in a trade last year, and while they made that trade hoping he would be with the team for a long time, they also knew he was in the final year of his contract. Clowney has been a free agent for more than a month and still hasn't signed elsewhere, so there's a possibility he's back, and the Seahawks hope that still will happen. In the meantime, they also have had to make other decisions to try to improve a pass rush that produced only 28 sacks last season.
"He came in, did a great job for us," Schneider said. "We made an effort to re-sign him. Still, the door's not closed, but we couldn't wait any longer. We had to conduct business. He knew that. Everything was very cordial. He's a great guy. Represented by a great guy. I go all the way back to Brett Favre with his representative, Bus Cook. We have had great conversations. He's just going to kind of feel his way through this odd process. You know, we'll see where that goes."
As for the rest of the pass-rush, Schneider said, "We were able to acquire Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa, two individuals that we're very comfortable with, confident in. They bring in (15.5) sacks… We're excited about having those guys back. You know, (Collier) will have a year under his belt, and hopefully we can keep him healthy. He got hurt last year, and we thought we were going to lose him for the whole season that day he went down. It was very disappointing, but we were able to get him back at a certain time in a season, that just wasn't ideal from a developmental standpoint. So yeah, pass rush is always something we're focused on. Obviously we need to do a better job in that regard and that's from an acquisition standpoint, from a developmental standpoint, and from a schematic standpoint."
2. The Seahawks like the depth they have added on offensive line prior to the draft.
While the Seahawks did lose starting right tackle Germain Ifedi in free agency, as well as top backup tackle George Fant, they like the depth they have built on their line by re-signing Mike Iupati and by adding B.J. Finney, Cedric Ogbuehi, Brandon Shell and Chance Warmack.
"You know that we are not break-the-bank free agency people," Schneider said. "We look for commonalities and fits, and what's important for our quarterback. We love our quarterback. We want to have as many grown men in front of him as we possibly can. It was important for us to be able to identify some people early on, and quite honestly, we hit in our mind what was one, two, three in free agency, and I give our guys a lot of credit for working with the agents, all the meetings at the combine and then getting ready for the three-day period, and Matt Thomas, obviously, to be able to negotiate with these guys in a timely manner, especially in the environment that we are in."
Said Carroll, "We have some young guys coming up that we are really excited about and feel like we are going to have maybe the best depth we've had and particularly the most competition we've had."
Having good O-line depth at this time of year is particularly important, Schneider noted, because it keeps the Seahawks from feeling like they need to draft for need this weekend.
"We have felt this over the years—one of my primary lessons we've learned throughout the years as college football has developed, offensive lineman are very hard to find," Schneider said. "So this really gives us an opportunity to go into the draft and take the best player."
3. Carroll & Schneider's thoughts on the addition of Quinton Dunbar.
While the Seahawks haven't made too many splash moves in free agency, they added a potential impact player via a trade for cornerback Quinton Dunbar, a starter last year in Washington who was one of the league's best at his position according to Pro Football Focus.
"I have to give (director of pro personnel) Nolan Teasley and our pro staff a ton of credit, being able to monitor his situation throughout the year, and just be like on me constantly about trying to acquire him. (Dunbar) is a wide receiver conversion, but he's done a great job. He's got a great feel for receivers at the top of the route. He's got great ball skills. He could play inside. He could play outside. Just the conversations that those guys were having with the Redskins, and (co-director of player personnel) Scott Fitterer was actually the one that ended up finalizing the deal to get the approval from Pete and myself."
Said Carroll, "I'm excited about this guy. He's a playmaker, and we need depth at corner and we need to cover people up and we need to be able to match up really well—continue to do that. The division continues to get more difficult and challenging, excellent players coming in. So for us to figure out a chance to get to Quinton and all that is great—guys tracking it and then to pull it off and make the trade and all that was just really an excellent move for us. It makes us that much more competitive and hopefully just adds to this coverage that we need to play the kind of ball we want to play."
4. The Seahawks are monitoring the progress of rehabbing players from afar.
While injured players are still permitted to rehab at team facilities, plenty of others are rehabbing on their own away from the team, and the Seahawks are doing their best to stay in touch with those players to aid in that process from afar.
"Our staff has been staying in touch with those guys," Carroll said when asked about running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. "I've been communicating with those guys throughout. Just checking in on them, the normal process. They are in their programs and working really hard and doing really well as far as we can monitor. So we are making the kind of progress that we need to make, really, across the board. Our staff is able to stay in touch with those guys, and there are some guys here staying fit in our own facility; the league allows that to happen. But for the guys remote, we just keep track and seems like everything is going really well as far as we can tell, and we're pleased so far."
5. Carroll's thoughts on playing in empty stadiums.
While no one knows for sure yet how this pandemic will play out in terms of life returning to normal, the hope is that there will be a normal NFL season this fall. One possible contingent that has come up, however, is the idea of playing games in empty stadiums if it not yet safe for large crowds to gather.
Asked about that topic, Carroll joked that he would be used to that from his playing days at the University of the Pacific "when we used to play in front of nobody," noting that, "the game can still be played."
Carroll then added, "Whatever has to happen; everybody needs to be wide open and ready to adapt and all of that and all aspects of our lives right now and certainly as we approach the season, we are going to have to be prepared. There's still a great opportunity to show the game to our fans through the media resources, but if that's the way it is, it will be a different experience, but it can happen. There's scrimmages and stuff like that you have and you've played, we pipe in sound and all that -- if we are playing and there's no fans, I promise you, I'm going to do everything I can to pipe in the sound to make it as loud as possible and we'll do everything we can to make that happen. We have to be ready to adapt and we just don't know and whatever it is, we'll take it on and figure it out."