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Word For Word: Pete Carroll & John Schneider's 2021 NFL Pre-Draft Press Conference Transcript

Quotes from GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll's pre-draft press conference on April 28, 2021.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Before we get into the questions… I just wanted to personally mention for the organization, on behalf of Jody and Pete, Coach Holmgren, and all the people that were close to Ted Thompson, his passing several months ago, very, very close friend of mine, mentor starting out in Green Bay. He was here. He traded for Matt Hasselbeck. He drafted Steve Hutchinson, who's going to the Hall of Fame, Alexander -- Shaun Alexander, a lot of really, really good players. I can't rip through them all. Obviously, coming to Green Bay and then drafting Aaron Rodgers.

He's going to be sorely missed by the scouting community. He'll be personally missed as a friend. Our hearts go out to everybody in Green Bay, everybody that knew him here, and just everybody around the league that knew Ted as a really, really good person.

Moving on from that, just really want to say thank you. Last year was a really, really tough year during the season, really productive season for us. The leadership was unbelievable in the COVID season, from Jody, Chuck Arnold, Sam Ramsden, and Matt Thomas keeping us compliant, then obviously Pete's involvement in the coaching staff and all the staffs, Chuck Arnold. Everybody did a great job.

And especially the players really, when you think about it, not having any positive tests for active players. The guys just did a great job with it. We won 12 games, and unfortunately, it comes to an end the way it did against the Rams. At that point, we move forward, and we haven't stopped since.

We're getting ready for our 12th draft this coming weekend. We have an amazing number of draft choices, three. The guys have been busting their tail. It's been a unique year. Really proud of Matt Berry and Trent Kirchner and the whole staff, everybody that's involved in this. Without having a first round draft pick, it's always difficult for guys to dive in and focus, but they've done a great job. We've had great meetings the last several weeks. We're really happy to be able to be in the draft this weekend and be together.

So, yeah, we're getting ready for an exciting draft. Tomorrow night's going to be really interesting without a pick, but yeah, we're ready to roll. We're excited about the future. We're excited about what we did in free agency, and now we're going to keep building our team, and this is just one avenue.

Anything you want to add, Pete?

PETE CARROLL: I would say, about the draft, our No. 1 pick is Jamal Adams, and that's a heck of a pick. He had a really good year leading into getting drafted by us No. 1, and it would have cost us another No. 1 to get that done, that incredible of a football player we saw last year, and we're really excited about the future too.

Right back when the conversation came up and the possibilities of all of this happening, John was already making reference to this draft and understanding what it was going to be like, and we made a major decision to go ahead and do that with all of that information in our back pocket. Still we're excited about the whole thing and looking forward to the process of it. Just in the first round, you might see the two of us not in our seats.

Q. John, you mentioned those three picks there and the fact you were preparing for this draft even last year. What percentage of the team's needs do you think you fully addressed in free agency going into tomorrow?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: It's a great question. We really don't ever feel like it stops here. We're constantly trying to build this team all the way through. So to say that we've addressed -- we feel good about the things we've done, obviously, being able to retain some of our own guys, adding the players we added in free agency, but it's really a never ending quest all the way to the next Super Bowl. So we're never complacent at any position, quite frankly.

Q. Pete, you talked at the end of the season about wanting to try to keep the pass rush together, to get Dunlap back, to resign Benson, and then add Kerry Hyder on top of that. With the way that group improved throughout the season, how excited are you about that so far?

PETE CARROLL: We made as good a jump as anybody in the season with our improvement on the pass rushing, and it took time for us to come together. It's obvious that Carlos was a big factor in that. Not just rushing, but people had to pay attention to him and favor some help in that way. It helped other guys.

So for us to come back and get Carlos was a great accomplishment for us, and Benson, as you mentioned, that's a really big deal. Kerry Hyder had a good year in our division last year, eight sacks and was a big factor. We love that we add him too, and we're still going. There's a lot of this coming back to this pass rush, the return of Darrell Taylor to be a factor, and the emergence of Alton Robinson. Those are really positive factors for us, and we're not done yet. We're still working it. It's been a really nice job by John and those guys.

Q. Obviously, D.J. Reed played really well at the end of the season on the outside for you guys, maybe changes a little bit the way that you evaluate the cornerback situation. My question is going into this draft process, especially with only three picks, does the way that he played so well change your dynamic, maybe expand your draft board position a little bit?

PETE CARROLL: D.J. really emerged as a good ballplayer for us, and we were surprised that he would be available -- again, that's one of the picks that I love that John's figured it out that he might be available and the way that he was, and we got him. We had to wait it out for weeks for him to get healthy and all. He started out playing nickelback the first couple times out, and then he got a chance to play. As he got comfortable with the position, he really finished strong, and that really helped us a lot, and that was a real pleasant surprise that happened during the season.

But that helps us coming back for sure. We've made a couple moves here also to help make it a really competitive situation, and that's always what we want to get done here.

Q. Pete, what were the philosophical differences you had with Brian?

PETE CARROLL: Brian Schottenheimer?

Q. Yeah, that were mentioned in the press release. It was a while ago, yeah, but it cited philosophical differences.

PETE CARROLL: I'm not going to be real specific about that for a million reasons. Sometimes you've just got to make a change. You've got to make your moves, and you've got to do what you need to do for -- it's never one issue or one situation. It's a lot of stuff.

But I was really concerned about continuing to grow and expand and get better and find our ways to utilize our personnel, and I just felt like that's what we needed to do at the time. So I'll leave it at that.

Q. Pete, what was your reaction when you heard Russell Wilson voice his frustrations?

PETE CARROLL: Well, he wasn't any more frustrated than I was. I know that, after watching the Super Bowl, I know he was asked the questions, and he responded that he's frustrated. Well, we all are. We don't win the last game of the year, particularly when we were at home and positioned in the playoffs and had a chance. We felt like we had a really good opportunity with health in our favor as well. It was hard.

So I think that's pretty normal, a pretty normal reaction to be frustrated.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Let me add to that. Coaches and players are so close to the fire throughout the season. They're in every game. Game to game to game, the game plan's going on, and they don't have the luxury that myself or other people have to call up general managers or personnel people or presidents of organizations, owners, to sit back and really kind of see the big picture. They're locked in every single week.

So when that game, that final game happens -- and we've been blessed to be -- these guys have done a great job of being in the playoffs. The last several years, we've lost in the playoffs. So your season comes to an end drastically, right? In minutes, it just happens very quickly. Pete Carroll and Russell Wilson are two of the most passionate and competitive people that I know. Passionate people just say passionate things. I think that it just kind of came up.

Q. One follow-up to that, Pete. What conversations have you had with Russell, and where do you feel like his head is at now compared to a couple of months ago when he said what he said?

PETE CARROLL: We have had as many conversations as we've ever had. We've talked extensively throughout the offseason. There was never a time that went by where we weren't talking and in communication. We've been close for years around here, and nothing changed with that. We worked our way through whatever was at hand at the time. We realized, it was really obvious how a comment, a frustration comment can turn into so much follow-up.

I think the speculation in the media was really an obvious factor in how his words were portrayed. Also, we don't always say the right thing. We don't always do the right thing. What I do, whenever things come out, whether it was Russell or anyone I've dealt with as a high profile player in high profile situations, we addressed all of it immediately, and he knows exactly where I was coming from. I told him early on this could be really a long issue that we're dealing with in the media, and I wasn't going to say a word because I knew what the truth was.

We had communicated clearly. I knew right where Russ was coming from. Unfortunately, for the people who were following it, reading the articles and whatever people were saying, you didn't have the benefit of what I knew and what Russ knew. So I never have played to those kinds of situations and tried to smooth them out or deal with them or whatever. As long as I know the truth, I have the power to know that. I felt fine about it. I just knew it was uncomfortable.

And there was some stuff that was said that had to be dealt with, and so it has been. Russ is in a great place now. He's been in a great place throughout the offseason. We have communicated through all of the things going on, just like I always have. This is no different than it's ever been. It's the same way I've always communicated. And I've always utilized all of the players that had information for me. If anybody had an insight that would help me figure out something or know more about a situation, I felt free to call my guys. I've always done that. Russ is a guy I've always talked to about stuff, so nothing's changed.

Right now he's at jacked up as he's ever been. He's in the process of turning over new offensive stuff that is different from the past, and things that we need to learn, he's totally after it, doing a great job. His mentality is strong, and his conditioning is right. He's doing a great job.

Things were said, and sometimes you have to deal with stuff, and that's how we take care of our business. We're in a fantastic place right now. I'm really excited about this team and this season and this draft coming up and all of that. Little bit frustrated that we're not able to do our football in the offseason right now. We're in a Zoom mode and a virtual mode right now, but that's just the way it is. So we'll make the most of it and compete to make it the best.

Q. One more on Russell. There was a specific report that you talked to the Chicago Bears about a trade with Russell. Can you confirm I guess? Were there legitimate trade talks with Russell that got close with anybody?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: There was a number of teams that called after that media blitz that happened, but, no, I never actively negotiated with anybody, with any team. Did people call? Absolutely. But I'm not going to get into specific teams. There was never ever a conversation.

People think that trade talks happen, hey, you just start negotiating right away. There's a lot of calls that are very, very periphery calls. Unless you're dealing with trading a seventh round pick for a player that may be getting cut, that's going to be on the wire or something like that, those happen very quickly.

Yeah, no, there was no act of negotiations going on.

Q. Thank you for taking a few minutes here. Wondering, based on everything you just talked about, to what extend do you feel like Russell is committed long term to the Seahawks and that the Seahawks are committed long term to Russell being the starting quarterback?

PETE CARROLL: What I would say to you about that is Russ has been our quarterback for a good while, and we've got a long contract with him. When all of the conversation went about trades and all that, I knew the truth is we weren't trading Russell. So that's -- so we plan on him being here for a good, good while. I don't know how many years it is now, but we're in great shape and a long future ahead of us is shared.

Russ knows that, and I know that, and we're very clear. That's why it's very obvious that we just had to sit back and let kind of the media take its course with the topic. So we did, and so we're in good shape and both very clear about that.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Yeah, you definitely learn a lot from listening, just sitting back and listening to everybody, whether it's from other teams or what's happening in the media. I'm really proud of everybody in the organization for basically just staying the course, staying quiet. Another real great lesson I learned from Ted Thompson, right?

Q. Does Russell have any rifts that need to be rebuilt, either within the locker room or within the front office, based on the comments he made, from your view?

PETE CARROLL: There's always questions because people believe a lot what you guys write. So there's stuff that had to be dealt with one way or another always. Constantly, it's like that. We always try to give a brother some slack because, when you say stuff that doesn't always represent exactly how you feel, so we always have to be open minded to talk to the guys and talk things through. That is ongoing around a club like this.

So there's conversations that are always having to be made, but our guys are taking care of their business, and they're communicating well, and everything's going fine. We don't have any issues at all.

Q. Did Russell violate your prime directive to protect the team? And if not, why not?

PETE CARROLL: I think that the conversation being out there for so long makes it a challenge to us, and there's a time when we violate and you go too far in any of the guidelines that we set. I think, in this case, rule number one is challenged. The conversation is out there that we wish we didn't have to be sharing with the world in all of that. You never get to the clarity or the essence of it when you have to operate through the media. That's why we try to go really quiet in all of that.

But it's really easy for me to be clear with the players when issues come up, and I was really clear with Russ. I was really clear with anybody that gets in a situation where there's a conversation outside of the direct conversation that we're having.

The subject matter teetered on that topic for sure because it looked like there was a problem and there really wasn't a problem. I think we're very clear about it now.

Q. When you say there wasn't a problem, clearly his media tour --

PETE CARROLL: It's a media problem. It wasn't a problem for us because we knew the truth and we were in a conversation to talk about stuff. So because it's in the media, there are things we need to address with players and friends and stuff like that. We talk through stuff. That's just a normal course, and it's nothing to be blamed on the media. You guys just speculated the way you could, did the best you could with it. No grudges with that at all.

But there are conversations to clarify where you're coming from so that everybody's on the same page. If that hasn't taken place in any particular instance, it will, and for the most part, everything's very clear and very up front with no issues.

Q. So there wasn't any big disruption to your offseason dealings and plannings because of this issue?

PETE CARROLL: No, there wasn't any -- every year has its issues and all that. This one took the shape of the quarterback and trades and all these global type of conversations that never happen between the clubs and all that kind of stuff. As long as we're communicating really well, we're fine. That's exactly how we progress.

Like John said, we're really proud of the organization and holding it together and supporting one another, and we all did that. Coaches to players, players to coaches, and through the administration.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: We've dealt with a lot of drama now.

PETE CARROLL: We've been through a lot of stuff. It's not like our first go round. We've been through a lot of stuff.

Q. One of the things Russell said is that he'd like more input in personnel decisions. Was there any change in that regard?

PETE CARROLL: No. No, because Russ and I have been in conversation about stuff that I think might be defined as that, and we're talking about stuff. He's been here ten years or whatever the heck it is. So we've had a lot of conversations. But I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of guys. I talk to guys all the time, and I want information. I'm not standing here like I have all of the answers. I want all the input to make the decisions I make.

Russ has been through a lot with us. He's got a good perspective. He doesn't have all the answers at all. He has his opinions at times, and I'm fine with dealing with that, just like I was with other players that have been here in the past. It's not any different.

Now, he never made a statement that he had to have more say so. That never happened. None of that happened. We never talk like that.

Q. Things crescendoed with Russ (Wilson), at least in the media, when his agent shared four teams that he'd be willing to be traded to with Adam Schefter. Schefter then tweeted out, blows up from there, and the Bears story goes from there, and that's how it blows up going downhill. I was curious what your reaction was when you saw that list of four teams.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Well, I would just say, to basically extend on what Pete was saying earlier to further that, he was in -- Pete was in direct contact with Russell the whole time through, and I was in contact with Russell's agent. So that was -- those are conversations that stay in house, and we protect those conversations, and I hope you respect that.

PETE CARROLL: What I would say about that, Joe, is I had made a clear statement to Russ, let's just shut down and be quiet on this stuff. We don't need to say anything. We know the truth of what's going on. When that came out, that kind of got over the top, and it opened up some other conversations that didn't need to happen. That was an example of why we're quiet and why we don't say anything.

It was so meaningless because it had nothing to do with what was going on. It was just kind of gave another little bite in there that people could talk about and I wish we would have avoided that is what I'm saying.

Q. John, I don't know if you're able to, but is there any potential update you can share on where you're at with Jamal Adams? Are you still working on an extension? Do you still view him as a long term piece of your defense?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. We're going to be celebrating Jamal tomorrow evening. We want him to be a long time for sure. He's a great player. We're glad we made the trade to get him, and he's going to be a very important part of our future.

Q. Has he given you any indication on whether or not he will play on his fifth year option?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: No, we're not into that yet, no.

Q. Hey, John. Hey, Pete. I have a question about -- a two-part question actually, on Aldon Smith. First, can you guys give us a reaction to the latest allegation? And the second part is he has kind of a long history with brush-ups with the law and with a domestic violence charge that was ultimately pleaded down. So I'm curious to see what your research on him indicated and why you decided this guy was basically okay for your football team.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: The research is he was working out down in Los Angeles. We had people last year, people that were with him all the time, and we were interested last year. Dallas basically outbid several other teams, and he was comfortable going there, had coaches on the staff that knew him, and they felt like they had a really good plan in place for him.

In terms of his current situation, that's not something we can talk about. We have to let the legal process take its course. And then with the domestic violence portion, what I would say is -- and I know you wrote about this specifically. I've learned a lot about throwing out blanket statements about these sort of things, whether it's DUIs or robberies or domestic situations. So right when we got here, I threw out a statement about it, and what I've learned over the years now is that every situation is completely different, and you have to study every situation and be comfortable with your decisions.

We've researched it with Aldon. This last time, it was a minimum salary deal, and we decided to take a shot and go for it.

Q. With the Russell Wilson situation, got a lot of young kids on the roster that weren't here even three years ago, and they're all on Instagram and social media and Snapchat. Is there a tangible fallout that Russ needs to address in the locker room as a team captain with those guys and that perception sometimes might be reality? They may not know the inner workings, Pete, that you guys talked about that you and Russ knew?

PETE CARROLL: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. There's perception and stuff, and guys are wondering, what's up? What's going on? Is there something happening and all of that. In this environment, where we're not together, it's a little bit more difficult to connect with people, but through the process of our time together and the work that we put in and the hours that we're putting in now, we'll accumulate plenty of opportunities for guys to be really clear and really on the same page. If they have any questions or whatever, things will be proven otherwise.

Russell is one of the great competitors and a guy that applies himself to his work as obviously as anybody ever has. Through all of the process, -- everybody's going to get to know each other and all of that, but that is what's going on this time of year for the new guys that come in. For the older relationships, those have their way of working their things out as well.

We're going to be really straight up and straightforward and clear about it and not panic and not think that there's any crazy things we need. There's nothing we need to do other than we need to go back to work, look each other in the eye, be straight up and accountable to one another, and do what it takes to get that done. That's the process that's going to take care of whatever issues might have arisen.

Q. John, as a follow-up, for this draft in particular, you mentioned how peculiar this is, and guys didn't even play. Some took the year off. Some opted out. Some seasons got cancelled. How much was that a part of your thinking of trading from having eight picks down to three that, of all drafts, maybe to go light on? You can still make a deal, but of all drafts to maybe go lighter on because you haven't had the opportunities of evaluation -- even the medicals, for instance.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: There's no question it's been a unique year. It definitely came into the equation. It was part of the equation with Jamal last summer as we were reviewing and trying to project. Reviewing the juniors that were going to be seniors and trying to project what the fall was going to be like.

Working with the Jets, Joe Douglas, it just became apparent if there was a chance to go for it, this was probably the year to go for it. This draft is no different than others. Gregg (Bell), you've been around for a while with the guys, the younger people that haven't been around us, we evaluate for our team. We don't evaluate for the league. I think it's something as a refresher for people.

When you see specific names being thrown out and this guy's supposed to go here and this guy's supposed to go there, and that's a great pick, and this one's a bad pick. We recognize it's entertainment all the way through, but we have to do what's best for the organization all the time. We pride ourselves on not having all the answers and not being the smartest people in the room. We spent time with the Cubs staff several years ago, and it was just really refreshing that they had that same philosophy.

So when you look at this Draft, in particular, we had to ask ourselves what kind of questions are we going to have answered by the time we get to next spring? What's that going to look like? And things just felt too hazy. So, yeah, we just made an organizational decision. Jody (Allen) was great. She was super supportive about it. Obviously, Pete and the staff, everybody was super excited to be able to acquire Jamal.

PETE CARROLL: Just in support to that thought there that was kind of interesting, I thought how we looked at the Draft coming up way back when, for the Jamal trade that came about, that took a lot of insight to understand what was going to be at stake now at this time of year, but it also led us into the moves that we made and to get prepared and the free agency things that we've done to fortify our team.

We're not going into the Draft with great needs, big spaces we need to fill and all that because the great work the personnel department put together to get ourselves in position to situate the roster. We're in a really good place. We feel really good about that now. Hopefully, we'll get some help in all of that.

As you can imagine, a draft pick right now, the No. 1 pick for us now played for us last year. That's great. And he had a terrific football season, and he's going to play as a legit starter. It's an enormous pick that we gained value in. I'm just thrilled that Jamal is a part of our team. He's going to get way better too. He's going to improve a tremendous amount. That's going to be really exciting to see how that goes down the road.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: It was a hard year. It really was. The scouts did a great job getting out there and doing whatever they could to really learn the people as much as they possibly could and use all their connections and their resources.

It's a little bit of an inside joke for our friends down in San Francisco that we compete with all the time, but we actually attended -- not to one up them, but we actually attended 176 college games and practices. We conducted 401 zoom calls. We interviewed 601 players, and we attended 129 separate pro days. So that's just for our good friend John (Lynch), just a little inside jab, some fun stuff.

Q. I'll start with Pete, and John, you can chime in. What's been the Shane Waldron effect? Kind of the onboarding, getting to know him, him knowing the Seahawks way, and going to the Draft, what that's been like?

PETE CARROLL: Shane has done a tremendous job of jumping into work, almost two weeks after competing our first virtual go rounds here. That's when Shane's had his first chance to really get to the players. The time spent with the coaches, the time spent in the process of getting here has only been accentuated by his fluent way of dealing with the communication part of the teaching and the learning that has to take place now. He's been really, really impressive.

So he's already deep in with the quarterbacks of course, but he had to get through the coaching staff first. It's been a joy to watch. He's got a great brain on him about our system of football and how the system works together and fits together and the communications of it, but that's part of it. The real crucial part is can you convey it? We'll see. We have to get on the field and all that kind of stuff.

But to see how fluent he is and how agile he is in the way he deals with the information and the transference of that has really been impressive. I couldn't be more excited about it. We're able to find the strengths that we've had in the past and things that we've done really well, and they're all incorporated into the new format that we're unveiling. So I've been around a lot of coordinators and a lot of games and a lot of off-seasons and all. I'm as impressed with this process as much as I've ever been and as excited as I've ever been.

I really feel like he's got it in command. So it's really fun to watch.

Q. Quick follow-up to that. You said he started with the quarterbacks. Has he started with the running backs yet?

PETE CARROLL: He's coaching everybody, and the staff is working together, but he has to send the lead message. He does a really nice job of making sure that his sense -- the essence of what is coming across can be conveyed, and the coaching staff then takes off from there. So it's a really clear message, and we're really hoping it's going to accentuate our ability to execute and perform.

Q. When you hired Brian Schottenheimer in 2018, if I remember correctly, you said you didn't feel like it would be right to start over offensively and thus there was a lot of carryover from what you were already doing. How much are you willing to do that now with Shane, and how much of your offense will be what you're already doing versus what Shane is bringing in?

PETE CARROLL: What I'm saying to everybody is we have established stuff that Russ is really good at, Chris Carson is really good at, D.K. and Tyler, they've demonstrated to us that they've got strengths that have been accentuated in the past that we need to continue to build from. In that sense, that's where the carryover comes from. It's so obvious. You can't miss it.

But the continuity of the blending of things is what's really crucial, and that's what I'm really impressed with Shane and Andy Dickerson, who came in with him as well, and our own coaches, just to open up their brains to how we can expand and do things that we're excited about doing. So there continues to be carryover. Like I said, I think that's crucial, but it's the accentuating the positives and the newness and all the little thises and thats that are really exciting to see come together.

Q. One quick point. How do you think Shane and that system can help with the issue of pass protection?

PETE CARROLL: A big focus of that is about the rhythm and the rhythm of the ball coming out. That's commitment to helping pass protection. That's the quickness that the ball is released. It's the reads for the quarterback. It's the mix of the protection that we use so we can't get zeroed in on. It's the utilization of the players so they're ready for the ball to be out quick.

Russ has always been good at all rhythms, but I've always felt he's at his best when we're really quick with the football and it's coming out of his hand in a hurry. Then he has those enormously long plays that he extends with his movement and all that. It gives us a real great variety and style to our game.

So we're trying to accentuate the rhythm part of it and how that fits with the play actions and things we love to do down the field and be explosive with.

Q. Did you have conversations with K.J. Wright's people about bringing him back at all from free agency?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Yeah, we talked to K.J.'s people before free agency, but quite frankly, there's so many coaches on our staff that were on our staff that are different places, we thought he would be signed by now. You know, you have the draft coming up. There's several different phases. We look at it in free agency, there's several different phases to it. We look at this being what we call phase 2, which is right around draft time. I think a lot of teams are going to see what they do in the Draft and come around to these veterans that are still available in free agency.

We have the utmost respect for him. He's done a ton for this organization -- great person, great leader. But yes, we have been in contact. I know Pete's met with him.

PETE CARROLL: I had a really good sitdown with him just the other day to bring it all together where we're coming from. We needed to hear where he's coming from and talk about the future and what's possible moving forward. We're right on the nose with this deal. Like John said, K.J. is one of the classiest players you could ever expect to have in your program and been a fantastic player. The door is not closed to us for what we're doing moving forward. We've been really clear about that, and we feel good about where we are with K.J.

Q. I John, you re-signed a contract to stay with the Seahawks another three or four years. Just curious what went into that. Obviously, you're happy here and content here and want to take this further for quite a while?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Absolutely. My wife Tracy and I love it here. I love working with Pete (Carroll), Jody (Allen), Chuck (Arnold), the whole organization. I mean, we've had a great run, but we just keep talking about no finish line, right? The thing I try to convey to everybody all the time is our team building does not stop. It really feels like it hasn't stopped since the moment Pete and I got together, which is unbelievably 12 years ago already.

So, yeah, we're very appreciative and looking forward to the future.

PETE CARROLL: I think this was a great move by the organization really for John and I to continue to just try to bank on all the stuff we've done in the past, and for John to be in the position he's in with so much say so, so much input, so much vision. He continues to show it year in and year out how we continue to stay on top of this thing.

We know how hard it is to win that last game, and we're battling every time out to put us back in that position again, but I know that working with John, it makes me better. He's a great administrator, great partner, and we partner on everything, down to every single detail. I'm very lucky to have John, thrilled that he chose to stay with us.

Q. John, one of the structures it seemed like you took with some of your free agent signings this year was to add void years onto the contracts. What was the thinking on that, and why is that something that you as an organization haven't really done in the past?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Unique times basically demand unique opportunities and things you have to take advantage of. So with the cap going down, there's a lot of teams that we're basically right in the middle of the pack. So there's a lot of teams that have a ton of cap room, and there's a lot of teams that are in cap trouble.

I think you saw a lot of those voidable years being added, and we just felt like, if there's a year to do it, this was the appropriate year.

Q. As a follow-up, is there a danger in that long term?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Sure, you don't want to -- you want to stay as disciplined as you possibly can so you have the flexibility to build your team. This is just our philosophy. This isn't like every team in the National Football League, but for us, we like to stay as disciplined as we possibly can so that we can have the flexibility to continue to build our team throughout the whole year.

Again, like I said earlier, this doesn't stop. You want to be in a situation -- you want to be able to put yourself in a situation where you can acquire a Duane Brown or a Carlos Dunlap or Diggs or just things that may pop up. This coming summer, we don't know what's going to happen June 1st, right? We don't know what's going to happen with specific teams, what their cap casualty situation is going to look like.

We just need to be pliable, and this was a way for to us do it, but yes, you don't want to do too much of it.

PETE CARROLL: In case you guys don't ask the question -- go ahead. I'll throw it out to them. I think you said something, John, about the guys we retained on the roster. Let's take a chance to go through a couple of guys.

To get Tyler Lockett to sign into a big deal for the future, this has been a fantastic get. This guy has been such a great player for us. He's such a great part of our program and all. He and Russ have a chemistry that's just unmatched. That's a beautiful thing that we got done.

We went out and acquired Gabe Jackson. It was a really great acquisition for us to bring his experience and his toughness and his leadership into the offensive line.

Getting Ethan back too. If we're going to get Ethan to come back to center, where he gets his second year to come back and compete to be the No. 1 center, and he'll be battling with Kyle as well. We're thrilled about that.

Chris Carson, and to get Chris back for us is such an important factor because we love his style of play. We all have seen what a great football player he is. This was a time where we might not be able to get it done, but tremendous faith in the program on Chris' part and the ability of John and Matt to get that done, that's a big deal.

Poona Ford, for sure. Poona has been an emerging star for us up front. To get his deal done, and he's with us for a while.

Also, getting Carlos Dunlap back, that was a big deal. I know we mentioned it, but it's worth mentioning again. He was just getting started with us. He loves being here. He loves being part of the program. He's got a big spirit, big somersault after his sacks that we all look forward to. Can't wait for the 12s to see that in person.

Benson Mayowa too. Benson brings experience and flexibility. Outside edge rushing. He can play outside backer and that position for us. All of those moves have been really important to us, and we're really excited about it.

Again, Cedric Ogbuehi back too was a big deal. I need to give him the premier opportunity to compete to start this year. In last year's mode, we got a little bit out of whack there. I'm anxious to give him a great chance because he's got great upside to his play.

Then Geno as well. We have Geno coming back. That's a big deal. Geno is such a big part of this program. He's such a great support system for Russ, for one, but he's a fantastic talent too. When he gets his chance to play, he'll be ready to go.

All of those are really important gets for us too, and we're still going. The Jamal move is big, and there's some other stuff coming up you'll see in the next couple days too. Our special teams unit is a fantastic part of our team, getting Nick Bellore to come back to us, who's a leader in that area.

These are really exciting things moving forward. Our team that was not able to be shared with the 12s last year in person, maybe we get the chance. Hopefully, we can get that done. Who would have thought we win all those games at home, and here we are in the playoffs, and we don't have the 12s with us. We needed them. They would have been a factor and might have caused a difference in that game.

I wanted to make sure those things get said. We're really, really thrilled about it. Ahkello Witherspoon is another guy too I didn't mention.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: A lot of new guys. Kerry Hyder.

PETE CARROLL: The new guys that come in and help us as well, Kerry Hyder. We're really pumped up about it. We'll add to it as best we can in the Draft. I don't mean to wrap it up but I'm kind of doing that.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Pierre Desir also who was with us.

PETE CARROLL: All of those names are all significant guys that can be a factor, and we'll see how it works out, but we're really pumped about it.

Q. Looking at the roster right now, only three players still signed from the 2016 and 2017 draft class. Is that something that's concerning to you guys at all, not being able to retain more players on second contracts, or does that just go with the territory of having a high-priced quarterback and dealing with the pandemic?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: It just goes with our philosophy of building based upon what our team looks like and not necessarily -- we have to know what the landscape of the National Football League looks like. We also, our first step, we have to be real with each other in how we evaluate the team and know who's competing with who and who may be an ascending player or who may be a descending player.

I think one of the real strengths that Pete and I have had over the years is that we listen to each other and we know where we are. So just because you're drafted in a specific spot or signed for a certain amount of money, it does not -- with Pete's always compete philosophy, that doesn't mean you're always locked in.

It depends on how much guaranteed money you get into with some players and all that. That's definitely going to make -- you're going to have to make roster decisions based on that, but other than that, we've been wide open.

PETE CARROLL: I think it does speak to the confidence of the guys coming in the program that can take guys' spots even though they were draft picks. We're not keeping guys just because we drafted them, just because we're trying to save face or whatever. We're going to do the right thing for that specific situation. John and I have worked our way through those. I think it's a strength of ours and our ability to do that.

Sometimes you get a guy who comes from somewhere else and he's a free agent, and he's better than the other guy. Let me say this too because I'm kind of on a roll here. Because of the format of last camp where we didn't have the off-season and we didn't have preseason games and the evaluations of players were so uniquely different than it's ever been, I don't feel like I gave our guys on the roster throughout the depth of the roster the best opportunity I could have for their statement for where they fit into this club. That's something that I already told our guys, that's happening.

That means that guys that are starting are going to get guys battling for their spots, and everybody's got to battle, and it's going to make the starters get better or get beat, and guys deserve that opportunity. I'm going to make sure that I do a better job of that because I felt like, because we were tweaking to catch up with last off-season, if you remember, we kept our offensive line almost intact the whole time. We just wanted to give them the opportunity to emerge.

I don't feel like that right now. I feel different about that. I want to make sure that Cedric has a chance, and that Cody Barton knows that he's got a chance and BBK and the guys that have been on this roster. They want to get their shot to play too, and they deserve their opportunity across the board.

You're going to see Ethan Pocic battling with Kyle, and you're going to see really great battles waged, which I think is just going to make us better. I'm excited committing that to our players, and that's why I don't mind saying that out loud.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Ethan was a huge get, resigning Ethan as well.

PETE CARROLL: It's kind of the theme this time around. It's a little different than last year. This year is different again, but we're going to have preseason games, and we'll have a better opportunity to give people a chance. That will go out with the statement to the guys we acquire this weekend. We want them to have a clear shot as well. Competition brings out the best in us.


Q. John, I think everyone looks at your history and the zoom total and think they're going to trade back and try to add more pick. Sitting at 56 versus sitting at 26, is that a harder thing to plan for? Just that many more picks and more uncertainty leading up to your pick?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: I would say that -- that's a good question. No, not necessarily. It depends on the draft, and it depends on how other teams feel about the draft as well. Everybody looks at it differently, right? So everybody usually sees the first round pretty similar, and maybe half the second round or three quarters of the second round.

But then really it really starts jumping all over the place. So that's been our experience, and it's just a matter of whether -- you know how aggressive teams are and what their needs are and how they view certain players. If they think they have to jump other teams to get to a certain spot.

It's something that really -- the best way to describe it is one you're in -- you know, once you're in the process of a draft, you could kind of see things unfolding. To sit here beforehand and say we're not necessarily planning on specific things. It just kind of your work should come into play, and the board should fall a specific way. If all of a sudden you have several players with a pick that's coming up here and you go back maybe 10, 12 spots or something like that, it could be worth it, and you're taking a chance that you're still going to get one of those players.

My point is, I guess, that you're not -- when you start out, philosophically you may want to do that, but it's not necessarily an easy thing. It's not something that is necessarily preplanned.

Q. Pete, I had one non-football thing for you. You guys had Dr. Vinay Gupta talking to the team on the video. What did that do for your players?

PETE CARROLL: First of all, I'm such a fan of the doctor. I watched him all year guiding everybody across the landscape of what's going on with the pandemic and all. We wound up communicating during this whole ordeal, and he's helped us quite a bit. We finally got him a chance to come in and visit with our players to kind of update everybody on what's going on with COVID and where we should know things are going, what direction and all that.

Primarily, we talked about vaccines and vaccinations and the discussion about that. He led us through that discussion with great depth and clarity. Really, he just has it nailed. But then opened up Q&A for the players and the coaches, and then everybody started firing questions at him. He gave us his phone number, and he's taken calls, and he's taken messages and all that, and he's responded to a bunch of guys. It's been really impacting.

The point is we all know that vaccinations, there's a question here of whether people want to do it or not. You have a choice to make here. We're advocating, obviously, that we want our guys to get vaccinated because we want them to be safe and we want them to have all the benefits of good health and all that. It is an individual decision. In this case, the doctor was remarkably on point and becomes a great resource to us moving forward. I hope everybody will take into consideration. His thoughts are so clear, and he's advised so many people throughout this whole process. He's been on point throughout. He has not been off subject at all throughout it. We have a great ally there.

Q. Two quick things. Are you disappointed that the relationship with Jarran Reed seemed to fall apart and he moved on from you guys and the way that kind of came about, at least as it was reported and such? And the second part is how is Darrell Taylor coming along, his process, and last year looking back and not being able to go for you throughout all of last season?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Yes, we were disappointed. It ended up being a casualty situation with Jarran. We talk about this every year with you guys, that there's going to be really tough decisions that we have to make along the way. We wish that Jarran would have worked with us a little bit, but it wasn't in the cards. He made a decision.

Then in regard to Darrell, I just saw him in the hallway the other day. He seems to be doing a great job. Talk to our trainers. He's working his tail off, and he's really excited to get going.

PETE CARROLL: It looks like, if everything just continues to progress, he'll be full go in any of the work that we go at. That's a big positive plus for us, and we're excited about T he's here in the building every day. So that really helps us know that he's being taken care of really well, and all of the best should lie ahead for him.

Q. Just putting a bow on the Russ conversation. You mentioned a couple of times, you knowing the truth, and you having kind of peace with that, knowing the truth regardless of what's happening in the media. What's the potential harm? What keeps you from sharing that truth publicly and say, hey, you guys can put a pin in all these rumors going around. Everything is good. Russ is our guy. It's Kumbaya here in the building, and we're moving forward to 2021.

PETE CARROLL: I would say the fact that a guy expresses his emotions and he's frustrated by something and that becomes such a big story, then he has to deal with bouncing back from those comments as the media goes ahead and tries to investigate more and all of that. There was just a process to that that had to take place.

Right from the beginning, I was talking to Russ, we spent hours on the phone over this off-season talking, and we worked at stuff and understood the topics and the subjects. So there really wasn't a problem. There's nothing to put the pin in to me, as in the fact that there were a couple things that he said, and he realized how volatile the simplest of responses are. Yeah, I'm frustrated. Okay. What does that -- well, like -- whatever he said. Those comments became so big.

It's a tremendous illustration for us and for people in the media and in sports of how volatile, particularly when you're in that franchise player position, how volatile your words are and how powerful your words are and how careful you have to be so that you express things and they get presented as you want them to. I think it was a great lesson to us. For us, it was a great lesson in discipline to deal with it and get through it, and we're fine. We've been talking football and talking the whole process.

So that's what it was. Now, it's maybe frustrating to people that we didn't comment to help you get off the hook of where you thought things may be going, but that's part of just not playing the media conversation. You know, I learned from Bud Grant a long time ago. I'm strict about it. I'm really strict. I said, you will not hear a peep out of me. You can do that too and just let the stuff that's being said go. It's hard. It's hard for people. Not everybody can do that. It takes real discipline to do that, and it's a learning process.

Hopefully, Russ will always be better for it because he's been through a lot of that, and hopefully other guys can learn from that as well. The power comes from knowing really the truth and knowing what's going on. I'm not not sharing the truth. The truth is he wasn't getting traded. He's on our roster. He's here for a long time around here. Anything that could ever take place was so far out there that could happen, it wasn't even worth considering. Unfortunately, that's kind of how it went.

But if anything happened, it wasn't a rule number one violation. It might have been a rule number two violation, which is no whining, no complaining, no excuses, where you say something that kind of gives you something that could be challenged. That's coach talk. That's how we dealt through all of it.

I don't know what else to tell you about that. That's how it was. It just had a big life of its own, and you guys just had to try to respond to it and speculate and figure out what the essence was. The essence was nothing was happening. That's how John handled it throughout and I handled it throughout, and really Russ did the best of his ability to do that.

JOHN SCHNEIDER: The way I would describe it is Pete did a phenomenal job of talking through everything with Russ. We're not going to let outside forces or drama dictate how we react to things, and we haven't for a number of years now. Again, we've had a lot going on here that has never become public. Some have. Some have not. We've had stories written trying to dismantle our team right before the season starts on several occasions. Do we respond to it? No, we don't.

Q. How many players have been vaccinated, and how many players do you expect to be vaccinated, and how much do you think that's integral to normal ops both in your team and the NFL?

PETE CARROLL: I don't know what the numbers are exactly. A number of guys have been, and I know that those that haven't been are all in consideration of whether it's their makeup and all of that. We're encouraging guys. We would like guys to get vaccinated because we think that's the safest way to go. We would like everybody to be vaccinated because life gets better when you do. We'll see what happens. I don't have is the numbers for you now.

Q. Is the NFL telling you that, to get back to normal and in person ops and in practices and in person meetings and all of that, that it's going to require vaccinations? Are they giving incentives like NBA and other people have?

JOHN SCHNEIDER: Ongoing process really.

PETE CARROLL: The information continues to come to us, Greg. They made a pretty big statement two weeks ago leading into this portion of phase 1 to give us some guidelines we hadn't received before then. We've operated with those, and we understand those, and we're moving forward.

I know the league is in favor of people getting vaccinated. They would like us all to be vaccinated. They think that's the best way to go. They're really following the science and making a clear statement about that. However they handle that, they'll handle that. The message is clear to us, and they're stating the freedoms that you gain because you're a vaccinated person can make life more normal than it has been under the other conditions.

We've worked very closely with the league on all this stuff. We've supported really everything that -- like I said before, whenever they bring something up, it always helps us get to the next point of emphasis so we can continue to message well. We've had such good communication, such success here. The vaccination thing, I think, will follow for most people. I don't know if we'll get everybody, but we'll get most of the people, I think. They'll find their way to it because it's the right thing for everybody. Hopefully, we can get that done.

Q. Pete, you brought back Carl Smith to your coaching staff. Why?

PETE CARROLL: Yeah. It's a really clear decision. When I could talk him into it, I got him to come back. He went home and went down closer to his home where his wife comes from and the family and all that. It was a family decision with Tracy on the staff there in Houston and her babies, all the stuff that was going on. He had a big really heartfelt decision to go when he went there.

Well, I never let up on him and finally got him to come back. What Carl Smith brings to me is tremendous background and personal background and experience together. We've been through so much together in so many games. We worked together all the way back at NC State. There's just a long, long background that we've had, and we see eye to eye on the football, and when we don't, we figure it out. He's a great asset to me and always has been, as an in-game assistant as well as everything else we do.

It's like getting the other part of my brain back. I really appreciate him being part of this. Carl is the kind of guy that will tell me stuff like other people might not say it. He has a way of doing it and a way of making the point to me that's extremely valuable to keep me from being crazed and half made out there some of the time. I'm really thrilled he's back with us. We're having fun and looking forward to a big season coming up.

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