PHOENIX—Seahawks general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll both met with the media on Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting, covering everything from their recent visits to pro days where they’ve seen some of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, to their plans for free-agent addition Julian Love and three-safety packages, to the return of Bobby Wagner.
In addition to those topics, here are six things we learned from Carroll and Schneider on Tuesday:
1. The Seahawks are excited about the addition of Dre'Mont Jones and Jarran Reed.
When free agency began earlier this month with the two-day negotiating period before the start of the new league year, the Seahawks were interested in Broncos defense lineman Dre'Mont Jones, but they didn't think they'd be able to make it happen.
"I didn't think we'd have a chance at him," Schneider said. "We thought his market would be even stronger than it ended up being."
The Seahawks did land Jones, however, and the hope is that he can be the disruptive interior pass rusher the Seahawks have been seeking for a long time.
"We've been searching for that big, long 3-technique, a guy that can be an inside pass rusher with length," Schneider said. "We were playing against Calais Campbell in Arizona for so long, we were like, 'That body type, that physicality, we need that.'"
Carroll noted that Jones fits the mold as a pass-rushing interior lineman, but that he also brings unique versatility to the job reminiscent of one of the best linemen on Seattle's two Super Bowl teams.
"I'm really excited about Dre coming to us," Carroll said. "He's got such a style and a knack in playing 3-technique and rushing and passer, and he has versatility to do other things as well. But he's got such a knack that we've been looking for for some time. And really, I go back and I keep giving Michael Bennett a little shout here—when Mike was with us, he was a real factor. He caused people problems. And he didn't cause people problems just by the basic fundamental technique he played, but by the other aspects of the game that he brought, and Dre has a variety of things. His expertise in using his body and movement and willingness to take a shot and take chances shows that he's got a knack that goes beyond a lot of other players. And so I think he's going to add a tremendous amount. He's going to enhance the relationship with the speed guys that we have on the edge, and the more factor they have to play off of him, the more opportunity and spacing it creates for the other guys. I think it's going to fit really, really well. I love the kid, he's serious, loves the game, has a really good mentality about studying it, working and all that. So that's going to fit in, and our guys are going to love him."
Seattle's other defensive line addition in free agency is a player the Seahawks know well, having drafted Jarran Reed and had him on the team for five seasons. Reed's role in Seattle this time around will be a little bit different, however, as the Seahawks have changed how they do things on defense and particularly up front. And the plan is for Reed's versatility will be a plus for the Seahawks in this current scheme.
"We're playing a different scheme, and he has the ability to play 5 (technique), 3 (technique) nose (tackle), so he'll be an end and a nose if we need it, so he has versatility," Schneider said. And he played in a very similar defense last year, and he played a lot of plays and played hard."
2. The addition of Evan Brown helps solidify the offensive line, but more depth is needed.
The Seahawks saw last year's starting center, Austin Blythe, retire this offseason, and they also released starting guard Gabe Jackson in a salary-cap related move, but despite those two losses, they feel good about how the line is setting up. Prior to releasing Jackson, the Seahawks signed Phil Haynes, who split time at right guard with Jackson, to a contract extension, then later they agreed to terms on a deal with Evan Brown, who has starting experience at both center and guard for the Lions over the past two seasons. More depth is needed and will be added at some point during free agency or the draft, but the Seahawks like what they have in place so far.
"I think it was a really good signing for us," Carroll said of Brown. " It was very strategic in that we wanted to see if we could find a guy that's been doing some playing, that's got some background and really good communication skills, because of what we got from Austin last year. We kind of talked him into playing a little bit. He was thinking about finishing his career, and Shane (Waldron) and Andy (Dickerson) got to him, and he saw the situation. He came in and had a really good year with us, in particular commanding the respect of that position it called for. And so Evan is the guy that we think is going to be able to carry that on. He's got a battle with our guys that we have. The position of the offensive line I think is very secure right now. It's not as deep as we need it to be, but it is very solidly situated. We'll have as much continuity, save losing the center, but if we can get that transition to fit well with the guards, really counting on Phil to do a big job for us. (Damien Lewis) and the tackles, they're going to grow enormously, probably as much as anybody in our program. So it feels very connected and so I'm really looking forward to it."
Schneider added that both the addition of Brown and keeping Haynes were significant moves for the offense.
"I feel good," he said when asked about the line. "Phil was a big deal for us. He split time with Gabe… It was really important we got him done. When we got through our free agency meetings and looked at the offensive line landscape, it was like, '(Shoot), we need to get this guy signed.' He's young. Now he's had his injury issues, but we feel good about it. And I wouldn't have told you Evan would have been on our team either. I thought he would have had a stronger market, but we're really excited about him, because he's played center a bunch, and now he had to play guard. And now, if he's going to be your center, that's pretty darn good.
3. There's a "lot of work to do still" when it comes to building the defensive line.
The Seahawks have made a couple of significant additions to their defensive line in free agency, signing Jones and Reed, but while they're excited about those two players, they know they're not done when it comes to solidifying that position group. In salary-cap saving moves, the Seahawks released Al Woods, Shelby Harris and Quinton Jefferson earlier this offseason, while Poona Ford remains a free agent.
The Seahawks have plenty of time to tinker with the roster and a lot of draft capital at their disposal, so they're hardly panicking about the lack of players up front on defense, but they also know they'll have to be creative with how they add to that group thanks to salary cap limitations.
"There's a lot of work to do still, we know that," Carroll said. "We're faced now with different circumstances to deal with, just because we've spent a lot of money already and all of that, but we have a lot of work to do. We have a couple of great spots for guys who want to come here. This will be more of a recruiting process than anything, and I'll need the players to really help us on that as well as the coaches. We've got some spots that we need to fill, and they're going to be crucial. I'm hoping some guys will see that this is a great opportunity for them to come in and be part of something really good."
The Seahawks never close the door on bringing players back after releasing them, so it's not out of the question that one of those players could return, and Carroll said the team is also still hoping to re-sign Ford.
"Hopefully we can keep talking," he said. "Really, we'd love to have him back. We need him to come back. So we're actively involved with that."
Nose tackle in particular is thin right now following Woods' release, especially with Bryan Money recovering from a knee injury.
"It's an issue for us," Schneider said. "We're going to have to figure it out as we go along. Cash and cap, we're pretty tapped out, so we have to be careful how we proceed."
4. Two 2022 draft picks should help strengthen the defensive front.
The Seahawks have already signed two impact free agents in Jones and Reed, and have a chance to add more players in the draft, especially with four picks in the first two rounds, but another reason the Seahawks feel like they will improve up front is what they're expecting to get out of to players drafted last year, second-round pick Boye Mafe and fifth-rounder Tyreke Smith. Mafe contributed all season long, though in a limited role, and the expectation heading into 2023 is that he will be a bigger part of the edge rotation.
"I'm excited for Boye," Schneider said. "I'm really excited for him. Every time he played—the San Fran game, he played his ass off."
Smith, meanwhile, missed the entire season on injured reserve, making him something of a bonus addition to the 2023 draft class.
"Honestly, he's similar to Dre'Mont in college," Schneider said. "Basketball player, super quick hands, can get skinny, gets off the ball, and gets up on the line of scrimmage. I'm really excited for him. It was almost like a redshirt year for him. Get your body right—he had some injuries in college where he struggled in the weight room a little bit."
5. Geno Smith factored team-building into his contract negotiations.
At one point during Tuesday's media session, Carroll was asked about the dynamics of building a competitive roster while also paying big money for quarterbacks, and he pointed to the way negotiations went with Geno Smith this offseason as an example of a quarterback getting good money while also considering the team-building aspect in play. Make no mistake, Smith will still make good money this year, money he very much earned, but he also wanted to make sure the Seahawks had enough cap space to build a good team around him.
"Geno was well aware of what was going on and he understood and he participated in the process to give consideration in that way," Carroll said. "He knew what he was doing. He wants to make this the best team he's ever been around and he's willing to do whatever it takes to do that. And I thought that the way our guys cooperated in that negotiation went so smoothly so well. And I really appreciate that Geno did recognize that. It's because he wants to win.
"Look at how the relationship went all the way through the whole process of it. It was great because he understood what we were trying to do. And John did a great job of communicating that to him. And Chafie (Fields), his agent, did a great job and it was a real process that was coordinated with an intent. Geno wants to win. He wants to be great."
6. Injury updates.
The Seahawks have several key players recovering from significant injuries suffered last season, and Carroll and Schneider gave updates on a few of them.
Jamal Adams, who tore his quadriceps tendon in Week 1, has been rehabbing in Texas, but the team recently checked in on him and got a good update.
"It sounds really good," Carroll said. "We sent our guys out to see him about 10 days ago, and he's coming in in the next couple of weeks too, so we're keeping track. It's sounds like he's doing great. He's pushing it, and he's going to try to bust whatever projections that would keep him from not being ready for the start of the season, he's looking to get that done, and we're counting on it, hoping it."
Carroll did acknowledge that Adams being ready for the start of camp isn't a given right now, and said the Seahawks will be cautious with him.
"That's not what the doctors are saying; they're being more open, allowing more room for that to see what happens," Carroll said. "We'll see what happens. We're going to be really optimistic about it but support him, and we're not going to rush it."
Schneider said defensive tackle Bryan Mone, who tore his ACL late in the season, still has a long road back, Schneider said: "It's going to be second half of the season, see how he's doing. It's a bad injury. Big man, bad injury. It sucks. He's a great kid."
On Jordyn Brooks, who also tore his ACL late in the season, Schneider said, "I think Jordyn may be a little faster. Maybe more similar to Jon Rhattigan's. It was kind of that same timeline."
Check out photos of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner from throughout his ten seasons in Seattle.