The Seahawks and head coach Pete Carroll Tuesday agreed to a three-year contract extension through 2019 two days after general manager John Schneider, who has collaborated with Carroll to transform Seattle into one of the NFL’s dominant franchises, signed on for another five seasons. Owner Paul Allen confirmed the news in a tweet.
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) July 27, 2016
Their respective inkings by owner Paul Allen provide the Seahawks with their best opportunity to ensure a continuation of the most successful era in club history, which has included back-to-back Super Bowl appearances (XVIII, XLIX), two NFC championships and three NFC West titles.
Carroll’s signing also puts to an end to speculation that he would finish out his expiring contract in 2016 and then head back to Los Angeles to coach the relocated Rams. Coach Jeff Fisher is under pressure to produce a playoff team for the LA fan base, where Carroll guided USC to seven Pac-12 titles and two national championships.
The NFL’s oldest head coach with the ouster of Tom Coughlin by the New York Giants following the 2015 season, Carroll turns 65 Sept. 15 and would enter the final year of his deal in 2019 at 68 (George Halas and Marv Levy coached in the NFL at age 72).
Financial details of the extension were not immediately available. Carroll signed a five-year, $35 million deal with Allen in 2010 and, after the 2014 season, agreed to an extension for a reported annual salary of $9 million.
Named head coach Jan. 11, 2010 as a replacement for Jim Mora, Carroll tapped Schneider, then working in Green Bay as director of football operations, as his general manager slightly more than a week later. Almost immediately, the pair embarked upon the most ambitious roster reconstruction project in modern NFL history – a staggering 1,304 player transactions between 2010-15.
The flurry began paying dividends in 2012 when the Seahawks came within a fourth-quarter Atlanta drive of beating the Falcons in the Georgia Dome and playing in the NFC Championship. Since that season, the Seahawks are 46-18 with 10-plus wins in four consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. On many oddsmakers’ boards, they are high among the favorites to win Super Bowl LI.
To illustrate the Carroll/Schneider impact in Seattle, consider that this fall the Seahawks commence their 41st season. In the first 34, Seattle won seven playoff games. Under Carroll/Schneider, they won eight, including the 43-8 romp in SB XVIII. This is how Carroll/Schneider compare to the franchise’s past coach-GM tandems:
|1976-82||5½||John Thompson||Jack Patera||35-59, .372; no playoffs|
|1982||½||Mike McCormack||McCormack||4-3, .571; no playoffs|
|1983-88||7||McCormack||Chuck Knox||57-38, .600; 3-4 playoffs|
|1989-91||3||Tom Flores||Knox||23-25, .479; no playoffs|
|1992-94||3||Flores||Flores||14-34, .291; no playoffs|
|1995-98||4||Randy Mueller||Dennis Erickson||31-38, .455; no playoffs|
|1999-02||4||Mike Holmgren||Holmgren||31-33, .484; 0-1 playoffs|
|2003-04||2||Bob Ferguson||Holmgren||19-13, .593; 0-2 playoffs|
|2005-08||4||Tim Ruskell||Holmgren||36-28, .562; 4-3 playoffs|
|2009||1||Ruskell||Jim Mora||5-11, .313; no playoffs|
|2010-15||6||John Schneider||Pete Carroll||60-36, .625; 8-4 playoffs|
The Seahawks did not have a single Pro Bowl player in either 2009 or 2010. But since 2011, they have had 13 players selected a total of 31 times: Earl Thomas (5), Kam Chancellor (4), Marshawn Lynch (4), Russell Wilson (4), Richard Sherman (3), Russell Okung (2), Max Unger (2), Bobby Wagner (2), Michael Bennett (1), Brandon Browner (1), Tyler Lockett (1), Michael Robinson (1) and Leon Washington (1).
Since 2012, 10 of those players have been selected first-team All-Pro. Carroll and Schneider brought in nine of the 10 (Unger was the exception) via the draft, trade or free agency. Most impressively, only Thomas (2010) and Okung (2010) were first-round picks.
Not everything went exactly according to plan; it never does in the NFL. OG James Carpenter, Seattle’s No. 1 pick in 2011, never played above the level of a journeyman. QB Matt Flynn, signed to a three-year, $26 million ($10 million guaranteed) free-agent deal in 2012, never got off the bench. The trade for WR/KR Percy Harvin in 2013 became a debacle, the Seahawks sending a trio of picks, including a No. 1 to Minnesota, for his services. For that outlay, plus $25 million guaranteed, Carroll and Schneider had eight games from Harvin.
If Schneider’s astute judgment on Wilson, on which he sold Carroll, didn’t make up for all that, numerous other transactions did.
They plundered the Buffalo Bills in a trade for Lynch. They made superb free-agent signings (Bennett and Cliff Avril to cite two). They developed undrafted free agents into stars (Doug Baldwin) and significant contributors (Jermaine Kearse, Thomas Rawls), and made amazing use of the middle-to-late rounds of the draft, Chancellor (fifth round, 2010) and Sherman (fifth round, 2011) serving as prime examples.
Many thought Carroll and Schneider daft in 2015 when they swapped four picks to the Washington Redskins to move up and select Lockett in the third round at 69. Who trades four picks for a third-rounder? Carroll and Schneider did, ultimately proving themselves the sanest men in the draft.
Success in the NFL is measured primarily on playoff wins. Since Carroll signed on with Seattle in 2010, he has as many as Bill Belichick (8), plus one more Super Bowl appearance. Perhaps more astonishing is how competitive Carroll’s Seahawks have been on a weekly basis.
Simple but stunning: The Seahawks haven’t lost a game by more than 10 points in the past five years.
In the three years prior to Carroll/Schneider, they lost by 10 or more points 18 times. Since 2012, the Seahawks rank first in the NFL with 31 wins by nine or more points. Over the same span, New England has 25 wins by nine or more.
The Seahawks will take into 2016 a jaw-dropping streak of 88 consecutive games (regular season and playoffs) in which they either led or were within one score of the lead in the fourth quarter.
During those 88, the Seahawks played an NFL-record 62 consecutive contests in which they held the lead at some point in the game. In the ultra-competitive NFL, that might be the most astonishing feat under Carroll — unless it’s this one:
In each of the past four seasons, the Seahawks led the NFL in scoring defense while employing three defensive coordinators (Gus Bradley, Dan Quinn, Kris Richard). They are not only the only team in the Super Bowl era to allow the fewest points four years in a row, but the first to do it regardless of era since the 1953-57 Cleveland Browns led for a record five consecutive seasons when teams played 12 regular-season games.
Since 2010, the Seahawks are an NFL-best 15-3 in prime-time (.833 win percentage) while New England is No. 2 (22-5, .815). Under Carroll, the Seahawks also produced the biggest comeback win in franchise history (trailed Tampa 21-0, won 26-24 Nov. 3, 2013), and the most lopsided win, 58-0 over Arizona Dec. 9, 2012.
Of course, Carroll also called the most ill-advised play in the history of the Super Bowl. But his record illustrates that he develops teams good enough to be Super Bowl-relevant every year. Not many franchises can make such a claim, so getting three more years of Carroll (after 2016), with Schneider as his running mate, should have all 12s agog with joy.