INDIANAPOLIS—With the NFL Scouting Combine underway, NFL general managers and head coaches began meeting with the media on Wednesday, a group that included Seahawks general manager John Schneider (head coach Pete Carroll will have his press conference on Thursday). As is always the case this time of year with the start of free agency looming—the new league year begins on March 13—a big topic is free agency. With that in mind, Schneider was asked about some of Seattle's top pending free agents, as well as quarterback Russell Wilson, who is heading into the final year of the contract extension he signed in 2015.
Here's what Schneider had to say about those players:
Defensive End Frank Clark
Asked where things currently stand with Clark, Schneider said, "Frank and I, we have a great relationship. The communication has been great. There's a strong level of trust between the two of us. That would be the update."
Schneider said he expects Clark will be a Seahawk in 2019, and when asked if that could mean using the franchise tag, he said, "I don't know that yet. It's been 10 years (since Seattle used the tag), Olindo Mare."
Linebacker K.J. Wright
Schneider said he will meet with the agent of Wright this week—and of the agents of just about every Seahawks free agent, for that matter—to talk about the future. The Seahawks would love to have Wright back, but as is always the case when a player hits free agency, the market will determine how realistic it is for Seattle to re-sign him.
"We sit down with all of our unrestricted guys and talk to them. We have a personal talk before they get to free agency, so they know what's shaking. We'll meet with all of their representatives down here. So by the end of the week we'll have a better feel for where his market lies. He's been incredible for us. He had a rough year with a knee injury, but when he played, he was phenomenal. We love him.
"K.J. has been a really, really important part of what we have been doing and we would love to have him back. It's just a matter of—his people are going to figure out and get a good lay of the land this week in terms of speaking with other teams, you know? But obviously we are going to stay in close communication with him."
Safety Earl Thomas
Schneider said that he has not had any recent communication with Thomas, who is set to become a free agent next month, but also said he wasn't disappointed with how things have gone with Thomas since the free safety suffered a season-ending leg injury in Week 4.
"I understood his frustration," Schneider said. "It's business. He's a free agent and he's going to test free agency, so we'll see what happens. We have a good relationship with his agents and stuff. He's going to be one of those dudes that's up on the Ring of Honor."
Guards D.J. Fluker & J.R. Sweezy
The Seahawks added Fluker and Sweezy on one-year deals last year and both ended up winning starting jobs and contributing to Seattle's NFL-leading rushing attack, so it's no surprise that Carroll said after the season ended that the Seahawks were hoping to keep both. Schneider reiterated that Wednesday, saying, "We'd love to have D.J. and Sweez back for sure."
Asked about Fluker's fit with the Seahawks, Schneider added, "It's a mentality thing. He's just an intense, powerful man who loves football."
Quarterback Russell Wilson
The situation with Wilson is different in that he still has a year left on his contract, but it's no secret that the Seahawks would prefer to get something done at some point to keep their Pro-Bowl quarterback around for the long term—throughout Carroll and Schneider's tenure in Seattle, the Seahawks have tried to extend their top players with one year left on their contracts. But with free agency right around the corner and the draft coming up in April, it's more likely that things with Wilson will heat up later in the spring or in the summer.
"We've been in communication with his agent Mark (Rodgers), and I'm sure we'll continue to talk," Schneider said. "There are some guys who are unrestricted free agents right now, so we try to work through that process, the different phases of it. There's several guys that have one year left on their contract in terms of extension, obviously he's incredibly important."
Asked if he feels like Wilson wants to be in Seattle long-term, Schneider said, "I do. I don't have any other reason to believe that, other than website rumors and stuff like that."
In injury news, Schneider said off the podium that receiver Doug Baldwin is rehabbing following offseason surgeries, though he did not give specifics on what procedures Baldwin had done. Schneider said tight end Will Dissly, who went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 4, is "doing great" but doesn't have a specific timeline yet for his return to the football field.
Seahawks general manager spoke with the media in Indianapolis on the first day of the NFL scouting combine.