Saturday, April 27, 2013 @ 7:52pm
RENTON – Consider it a good problem to have.
John Schneider and Pete Carroll had a hard time convincing rookie free agents to sign with the Seahawks, a reflection of the strength of Seattle's roster and the difficulty those players will have to even make the team, let alone make an impact.
"This was the hardest rookie free agent period we've ever had," Schneider said before the team announced the addition of nine undrafted rookies. "Pete was recruiting like crazy just now, and we were negotiating with a bunch of guys. Once you know that guys are making very hard decisions to come with you, that's when you know you're improving."
Seattle's nine undrafted rookies include wide receiver Matt Austin (Utah State); tackle Alvin Bailey (Arkansas); defensive end Kenneth Boatright (Southern Illinois); linebackers Ramon Buchanan (Miami), John Lotulelei (UNLV) and Craig Wilkins (Old Dominion); strong safety Ray Polk (Colorado); guard Jordon Roussos (Bowling Green) and running back Dominique Whaley (Oklahoma).
The Seahawks' 11-member draft class didn't include a linebacker, a mild surprise given their overall lack of depth at the position and the fact that one starting spot remains unsettled. That helps explain why three of their rookie free agents are linebackers.
"We got a couple [linebackers] that we will sign in free agency ... that were guys we were hoping to draft at one point in the draft in a couple different spots," Carroll said. "So we were very fortunate to get a couple guys to come on board here after the seventh round was done."
Saturday, April 27, 2013 @ 1:15am
RENTON – The Seahawks emerged from Day 2 of the NFL Draft with a new running back, a new defensive tackle, and the same number of picks with which they began the day.
Seattle acquired additional fifth- and sixth-round picks from Baltimore after moving down six spots in the second round. The result is that the Seahawks will enter the final day of the draft with 10 selections and just as many chances to make hay in the later rounds, where in past years they've found gems like Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and K.J. Wright.
"We're looking forward to this. This has been a great area of the draft for us," coach Pete Carroll said from the team's headquarters. "To have this many picks, with the trade that we made, we go in very optimistically that we're going come up with some good stuff. There's some terrific kids there in the draft at this point.
"We've worked very hard at this aspect of the draft. [General manager John Schneider's] guys have done a great job to prepare us for this, so this is a big time for us."
Seattle's 10 picks include one in the fourth round (No. 123 overall), three in the fifth (138, 158 and 165), two in the sixth (194 and 199) and four in the seventh (220, 231, 241 and 242).
Ten picks over the final four rounds is a luxury for a team that doesn't have many remaining holes. The Seahawks drafted defensive tackle Jordan Hill in the third round, a move they felt they had to make after letting starter Alan Branch leave in free agency.
Now, outside linebacker might be the closest thing Seattle has to a pressing need. Leroy Hill is an unrestricted free agent and isn't expected to be re-signed, which would create a vacancy on the weak side. The Seahawks have some in-house options, though. Malcolm Smith saw some action there late in the season in place of Hill, and free-agent addition Cliff Avril can play linebacker even though he's primarily a pass rusher.
A pass-catching tight end to pair with Zach Miller might also be on the Seahawks' wishlist. So could a backup quarterback with enough mobility to run the read-option and a kicker with a stronger leg than that of Steven Hauschka.
Other positions could be addressed with an eye toward 2014 and beyond.
Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Antoine Winfield form what might be the best cornerback trio in the NFL, but Seattle could find itself at a crossroads with those three after this season. Winfield will be 36 and an unrestricted free agent. Browner is scheduled to become a restricted free agent, and it's fair to wonder if the Seahawks will be able to pay him him if they have to break the bank for Sherman, who will be eligible for an extension.
Seattle is similarly stacked at wide receiver after adding Percy Harvin to a group that already included Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. The significant amount of money the Seahawks are committing to Harvin and Rice could make it difficult to keep all four once Tate (unrestricted) and Baldwin (restricted) become free agents after 2013. Drafting a receiver would give the Seahawks a cost-effective contingency plan.
Monday, April 22, 2013 @ 5:49pm
ESPN's John Clayton and Mike Sando joined "Brock and Danny" on Monday for a roundtable discussion on how the Seahawks are approaching this week's draft, their fourth under coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
Below are some of the highlights.
How Harvin trade could change approach. The Seahawks don't have a first-round pick after sending it to Minnesota in the Percy Harvin trade, a deal that also cost Seattle a seventh-round pick and next year's third. Clayton and Sando agreed that while the Seahawks still have 10 picks at their disposal this year and only a few holes to fill, not having those earlier selections reduces the margin for error that would otherwise exist.
While the Seahawks have found gems in the fourth and fifth rounds, they've also whiffed on players like Kris Durham. (AP)
The Seahawks have also gotten little or nothing from other players they've drafted in those two rounds. E.J. Wilson was released during his rookie season while fellow fourth-round pick Kris Durham was let go after a year. Fifth-round picks Mark LeGree and Korey Toomer didn't make the team as rookies.
"Those misses really hurt him (Schneider) personally even though they've had great success in the draft," Sando said, "so I think they really will try to avoid some of the higher-risk moves they've made at times in the middle rounds."
The Seahawks have two picks in the fifth round and four in the seventh.
Take your pick. Tavon Austin, a wide receiver from West Virginia, was Clayton's choice when posed a hypothetical question asking which player he'd pick regardless of position, need or draft order. Clayton thinks the Seahawks viewed Austin as a game-changing playmaker worthy of taking with the 25th overall pick, and he theorized that Seattle traded for Harvin after determining that Austin wouldn't last that long. Trading up, say, five spots might have cost the Seahawks a third-round pick, which is what they included in the trade for Harvin.
Chance Warmack from Alabama was the name Sando mentioned while making the case for a stud guard who could solidify Seattle's offensive line. Clayton agreed with the idea, noting that using such a high pick on a non-premium position is easier to justify now that the rookie wage scale has made first-round salaries more affordable.
O'Neil pointed to right tackle Breno Giacomini as an example of the Seahawks' ability to find starting offensive linemen who weren't high draft picks. Guards Paul McQuistan and J.R. Sweezy are other players who have developed under offensive line coach Tom Cable.
Trading up? Because the Seahawks have a strong roster and few openings, Carroll has said some of their 10 draft picks might not make the team. With that in mind, O'Neil asked whether it would make sense to trade some of those picks to move up in the second round.
Sando doesn't think they'll need to, the reason being that because they tend to evaluate players differently than other teams, someone they're targeting could be available when it's their turn to make the 56th overall pick.
"I really couldn't justify giving up even more of your number of picks because they've hit on enough of those middle-round picks," Sando said.
Thursday, April 18, 2013 @ 4:11pm
A trip to the divisional round of the playoffs and some high-profile offseason additions have put the Seahawks in the discussion of the NFL's best teams.
The league's schedule makers apparently agree.
The Seahawks will see their share of the spotlight in 2013 with four prime-time games highlighting their regular-season schedule, which was announced Thursday. That includes two Monday night appearances and one apiece on Thursday night and Sunday night.
Below is the Seahawks schedule, with home games in bold:
Week 1. Sunday, Sept. 8: at Panthers, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 2. Sunday, Sept. 15: 49ers, 5:30 p.m. (NBC)
Week 3. Sunday, Sept. 22: Jaguars, 1:25 p.m. (CBS)
Week 4. Sunday, Sept. 29: at Texans. 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 5. Sunday, Oct. 6: at Colts, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 6. Sunday, Oct. 13: Titans, 1:05 p.m. (CBS)
Week 7. Thursday, Oct. 17: at Cardinals, 5:25 p.m. (NFL Network)
Week 8. Monday, Oct. 28: at Rams, 5:40 p.m. (ESPN)
Week 9. Sunday, Nov. 3: Buccaneers, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Week 10. Sunday, Nov. 10: at Falcons, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 11. Sunday, Nov, 17: Vikings, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Week 12: BYE
Week 13. Monday, Dec. 2: Saints, 5:40 p.m. (ESPN)
Week 14. Sunday, Dec. 8: at 49ers, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
Week 15. Sunday, Dec. 15: at Giants, 10 a.m. (FOX)
Week 16. Sunday, Dec. 22: Cardinals, 1:05 p.m. (FOX)
Week 17. Sunday, Dec. 29: Rams, 1:25 p.m. (FOX)
A few thoughts on the schedule:
Prime-time. The Seahawks didn't have a prime-time game in 2010, when coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider inherited a team that had gone 9-23 over its previous two seasons. Their four prime-time games in 2013 -- their most since having five in 2006 -- is another testament to how far they've come in three years.
TGIM. Games against the Rams in St. Louis and the Saints in Seattle will give the Seahawks a chance to improve their league-best .692 winning percentage on Monday Night Football. Seattle has won its last six Monday night games.
Rise and shine. Seattle's schedule includes five road games with the dreaded 10 a.m. PST start time, including the season opener against the Panthers in Charlotte, N.C. Teams coming from the West Coast have long lamented the early kickoffs because of the difficult adjustment players' bodies face after traveling across the country. The Seahawks went 1-4 in 10 a.m. starts last year, including their playoff loss to Atlanta.
Toughest stretch. A home game against the 49ers in Week 2 kicks off what looks like the most difficult four-game stretch. Seattle hosts the lowly Jaguars a week later before hitting the road for consecutive 10 a.m. games against the Texans and Colts, both playoff teams in 2012.
Easiest stretch. Nothing jumps out as a cakewalk on this schedule, but Weeks 6-9 seems like the easiest four-game stretch in the absence of a more obvious choice. The Titans, Cardinals, Rams and Buccaneers all missed the playoffs and finished below .500 in 2012. That stretch includes road games against Arizona and St. Louis, which the Seahawks lost in 2012. But they'll benefit from a 10-day break between the Thursday night game against Arizona and the Monday night game against St. Louis.
Home sweet home. The Seahawks will play five of their final eight games at home for the second year in a row. Their second-half schedule also includes a Week 12 bye. Two of their eight home opponents made the playoffs last season. Seattle went 8-0 at CenturyLink Field last year.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ 1:32pm
Brock Huard has asked a handful of former NFL quarterbacks this offseason for their take on how the Seahawks' Russell Wilson can take the next step in his second NFL season.
For Jim Zorn, another former Seahawk who's now the Chiefs' quarterbacks coach, it's being prepared for the new looks Wilson will see from defenses who will have had a year's worth of his tape to study.
On Wednesday, Huard got a chance to ask Wilson himself the same question.
"The thing that I'm always trying to harp on is just my footwork," Wilson said. "Being at the Pro Bowl with guys like Drew Brees and Peyton Manning and talking to other players as well and asking them questions, the biggest thing that they said took their game to another level was just their footwork, how they worked on it every single morning, every single day."
It makes perfect sense that Wilson would solicit advise on footwork from Brees, who's slightly taller than Wilson but still short by NFL quarterback standards. For shorter quarterbacks, the ability to efficiently move around the pocket to find passing lanes is essential. For Brees in particular, sound footwork is commonly cited by experts on the subject as a reason he plays at an MVP level despite lacking prototypical height.
"This game's all about timing, this game's all about being able to maneuver," Wilson said.
That will be a focus for Wilson as he continues his on-field work over the offseason.
"It's about when you're taking those extra reps in seven-on-seven, it's not just doing the same five- or seven-step drop, you've got to be able to move and make the throws, even if nobody's there," he said. "You've got to have an imagination to the game. I think being able to visualize that and work on that it's really going to allow my game to continue to elevate."
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ 12:11am
Those paying close attention to the moves made this offseason by the Seahawks and 49ers might have noticed a pattern.
Each team opened the new league year by trading for a high-profile wide receiver, with Percy Harvin coming to Seattle and Anquan Boldin joining San Francisco.
The Seahawks and 49ers both traded away a backup quarterback they considered good enough to start, moves that necessitated a replacement and reflected how highly each team regards its starter.
Reports of the Seahawks' addition of Antoine Winfield came a week and a half after the 49ers added Nnamdi Asomugha, another veteran cornerback with Pro Bowls on his resume.
The similarities in those moves might be purely coincidental, but it's all made good fodder for debate over which NFC West rival has assembled the best roster. If you ask Matt Williamson, a former NFL scout who now works for ESPN's Scouts Inc., the Seahawks have a slight edge.
"I think it's going to be the best rivalry in the league and the most physical game of the year," ESPN's Matt Williamson said of the Seahawks and 49ers. (AP)
Unlike their 49ers counterparts, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider had to overhaul their roster en route assembling a Super Bowl contender. What's sped up the process, as Williamson noted, has been their ability to find cheap talent through the draft. Russell Wilson, for example, is making well under $1 million per season, whereas some teams are paying their franchise quarterbacks more than $15 million a year.
"They're getting great quarterback play, but it's not abusing their salary cap," Williamson said.
The Seahawks and 49ers finished first and second, respectively, in scoring defense last season. Williamson thinks Seattle surpassed San Francisco on defense but said the draft will provide the 49ers with a chance to regain their edge. San Francisco owns three picks in the first two rounds, while Seattle has one.
"I think that the Niners will get better on draft day than the Seahawks do, but it's going to be a great power race just watching these two," he said, "and I think we're splitting hairs to say who the better team is."
A few more of Williamson's thoughts:
The read-option's future. Williamson doesn't think the read-option will be a passing fad like the Wildcat, but he questions how effective it will be now that it will no longer catch defenses by surprise.
"Think back just 365 days ago. The only teams that were running the read-option were Cam Newton and the Panthers and [Tim] Tebow and the Broncos, and at this point [last year] he was a Jet and Peyton Manning was in place. So defensive coordinators weren't preparing for it all offseason," Williamson said. "This year, I'm sure every defensive coordinator is grinding that tape like crazy on how do we stop the read-option, they're calling their buddies in college, 'give us some tips.'"
Williamson doesn't think the read-option can be a staple of a team's offense because of the risk it poses to quarterbacks who are exposed to extra hits. The read-option was much more of a wrinkle than a staple for the Seahawks last season, which is an important distinction to make when discussing its sustainability.
'Not a fan' of Brady Quinn. Williamson thinks backup quarterback is one of the Seahawks' biggest needs. In his mind, that's as much of a testament to the overall strength of the roster as it is an indictment of Brady Quinn, who's currently Seattle's presumed No. 2 quarterback after signing with the team last week. One of Quinn's biggest problems, according to Williamson, is that he's "way too hesitant to pull the trigger."
The good news for the Seahawks, according to Williamson, is that their defense and running game would be good enough to win games without great play from their backup quarterback.
Winfield's skillset. It's safe to say Williamson likes the addition of cornerback Antoine Winfield, who has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with Seattle. He cited Winfield's physicality and ability to defend against the run as reasons why he's ideally suited to play inside as a slot corner.
"He has good short-area quickness but not elite speed anymore, so you don't want him running down the sidelines with A.J. Green so much as you'd rather him do battle with the Wes Welkers and the slot receivers and blitz ..., have him attack the running game," he said.
Monday, April 15, 2013 @ 12:25pm
Smiles abounded as the Seahawks kicked off their offseason program Monday with near-perfect attendance.
That was the word from free safety Earl Thomas, who joined "Brock and Danny" following a meeting at the team's Renton headquarters.
"This is the only day of the year that you're going to see everybody on the team happy and definitely happy to see each other because training camp is a long process and after a few days of just practicing against each other when we do get to that situation, a lot of guys are going to be tired and ready to hit something new," Thomas said.
"But today it was good to see all my teammates. Everybody is enjoying each other and everybody seems like they're happy to be back."
Monday marked the beginning of the first of three phases of the Seahawks' offseason program. Attendance is voluntary, and according to Thomas, "only a couple" players weren't there.
"Even the new pieces that we have, everybody's bought in already," he said. "Coach [Pete] Carroll is doing a great job of teaching us the central theme is competition. Everybody's buying in, and when you get that, the team is going to go far."
A few more notes from Thomas' conversation with Brock Huard and Danny O'Neil:
Seattle's Earl Thomas wants to improve his tackling as he looks to become the league's best safety. (AP)
"I definitely want to be a better tackler and then just keep attacking that football when it's in the air and catch it when I get my opportunities," he said.
Thomas has at times struggled as a tackler. One memorable example was his failure to wrap up during a collision with Jazquizz Rodgers during Seattle's playoff loss to Atlanta last season. That missed tackle led to a long run.
Thomas made three interceptions during the regular seasons and two more in the playoffs, but he could have had more had he not dropped several would-be picks.
Winfield's addition. The Seahawks' secondary is widely considered the best in the NFL. It's also one of the youngest. That's easy to forget with all the accolades on the group's collective resume, including four Pro Bowls and two first-team All-Pro selections. Thomas is only 23. Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman are 25. Brandon Browner is 28 but has only two years of NFL experience.
That might have made Antoine Winfield even more appealing. Winfield, who reportedly has agreed to a one-year deal with Seattle, will be 36 next season and projects as a replacement for Marcus Trufant, another veteran cornerback who is not under contract for next season. It's not as though their relative inexperience has been a hindrance, but there's plenty to be learned from a 14-year veteran, especially one as accomplished as Winfield.
"I'm excited. He's going to help us not only as far as his play but the mental side of the game," Thomas said. "A lot of people don't realize how much hours we put into just studying film and just trying to see what the offense is trying to do to us, and with him being in our corner and in a film room with him, we're all gonna pick his brain.
"He's been here a long time and he's had a lot of success in the league, and I'm excited to see how he attacks the game and I'm definitely going to be watching."
Paying tribute. Thomas is adding "III" to his name on the back of his jersey in tribute to his late grandfather. He'll continue to wear No. 29.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 @ 12:44pm
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks would prefer that Brady Quinn – or whatever quarterback ends up as their backup – never has to see the field save for the preseason and mop-up duty at the end of a blowout win.
Good backup quarterbacks, however, have value aside from the insurance they provide against an injury to the starter. With that in mind, one quote stood out among others when Jim Zorn joined 710 ESPN Seattle to share his insight on Quinn, who agreed to terms on a contract with the Seahawks Tuesday.
Zorn, the Chiefs quarterbacks coach, worked with Quinn in 2012, Quinn's lone season in Kansas City. Zorn lauded Quinn's intelligence, attitude and work ethic before mentioning something else that must have appealed to the Seahawks.
"With Brady coming into a situation that's already solid, he's going to add to it because of who he is and the way he works," Zorn told Brock Huard and Chris Egan. "He won't try to disrupt anything, he's just going to enhance everything."
Translation: Quinn knows his role as a backup and will harbor no illusion that he – not Russell Wilson – should be the Seahawks' starter.
Things weren't as clear-cut last season after Wilson beat out Matt Flynn, who had signed with the Seahawks thinking he was finally getting his chance to be a starter. According to Huard, Flynn's disappointment in losing out to Wilson affected the level to which he was engaged as the backup.
Flynn "was not a guy that helped Russell. He was not a guy that was into those Tuesday meetings. And rightfully so, he wanted that job very badly," Huard said in February.
As Huard recently suggested, perhaps that was a consideration for the Seahawks when they traded Flynn – whom they considered a starting-caliber quarterback – for a pair of late-round draft picks. Had they not traded Flynn, would some lingering bitterness on his part have continued to make him reluctant to help Wilson or in some other way have a negative affect on the quarterback room?
Based on Zorn's assertion, the Seahawks won't have to worry about any such issues now that Quinn is their backup.
As for Quinn's skillset, Zorn described him as more of a traditional drop-back passer who doesn't pose the running threat of someone like Wilson. While Quinn might lack the mobility to effectively run the read-option, Zorn said one of his strengths is play-action, which is another staple of the Seahawks offense.
Another strength, according to Zorn, is Quinn's ability to diagnose defenses and change protections at the line of scrimmage when necessary.
"So where you may lose a type of play, there's still things that Brady can do to help this team win if called upon," Zorn said.