A year after engaging in talks to trade premier CB Richard Sherman, a franchise cornerstone, Seahawks general manager John Schneider, a cornerstone himself, could get traded.
The NFL Network reported Saturday that the Seahawks denied the Green Bay Packers permission to interview Schneider for their GM vacancy with his hometown team. That means that if the Packers really want him, they would have to offer the Seahawks compensation, probably in the form of draft choices, but it could include a player.
ESPN reported that the Packers could argue that their job is a promotion, because in Seattle, Schneider has shared player-personnel responsibilities with coach Pete Carroll since their arrivals in January 2010. The Packers position has full authority, including the hiring and firing of coaches. League rules require teams pursuing candidates for lateral moves to get permission from the candidate’s club.
Schneider, 46, is a native of De Pere, WI., and started his NFL career in 1993 under legendary Packers GM Ron Wolf. The ESPN report said Schneider is the preferred choice of many in the organization, including coach Mike McCarthy.
While the pull from the hometown may be strong, Carroll, answering a question Tuesday about Schneider’s future, said he was convinced his GM was staying.
“Yeah, I am. As a matter of fact, I am,” he said. “I’m convinced of that, yeah . . . I’m convinced that I’m answering your question exactly like I (was) asked it. I think he’s going to be here. That’s what I’m counting on.”
Earlier Tuesday on his ESPN 710 radio show, Carroll sounded a little less convinced.
“I expect John and I to do this together, but he’s got a life, too, you know?” he said. “He’s got stuff that he has to deal with also. That (news of the Packers vacancy) popping up (Monday) about 4 o’clock out of nowhere, that has impact, it hits him. John grew up there. He’s always loved that area, that program.
“He loves being here. He loves what we’re doing and he’s dedicated to what we’re all about. He’s dedicated to me as I’m dedicated to him.”
Schneider, who had a second stint with the Packers from 2002-09 when he became director of player personnel, told reporters in 2016 when he signed a contract extension through 2021 with Seattle that he had no out clause allowing him to leave for a Packers-only job.
The Packers and Seahawks had somewhat similar seasonal outcomes. Among the preseason favorites in the NFC, both missed the playoffs after a long period of success. A 7-9 season (4-4 at home) ended eight consecutive postseasons for Green Bay, thanks largely to a collarbone injury to QB Aaron Rodgers. Seattle was 9-7 and 4-4 at home, ending a streak of five playoffs in a row after injuries to several key players.
While the Seahawks can’t match the hometown sentiment for Schneider, there are certain virtues that accrue from working for the richest owner in sports, Paul Allen, who is hands-off when it comes to meddling in seasonal football business.
The Packers are the last community-owned team in big-time U.S. pro sports, and while the player-personnel payroll is governed by a salary cap, there is no limitation on front-office salaries, perks and benefits.
He also has a good working relationship with Carroll. Unless something changed recently, the harmony within management is a rare virtue in Seattle. That aspect came into sharper relief in the NFL Thursday when ESPN’s Seth Wickersham broke a story about major friction within the New England Patriots, the most successful team in the NFL since the 1994 adoption of true free agency.
The most tangible episode in the story involved the deadline trade of backup QB Jimmy Garappolo. According to anonymous sources, Bill Belichick wanted to keep Garappolo, 26, as the heir apparent to Tom Brady. But the 40-year-old quarterback, insisting he’s good for another five or so seasons, induced owner Robert Kraft to side with him because Brady felt threatened.
Even the greats get insecure.
Belichick reluctantly agreed to trade Garappolo for a second-round draft pick to San Francisco, where he was even better than Brady imagined, helping give the 49ers a positive future with five wins in a row to end the season.
It looks as if the 49ers pillaged Belichick, even though the deal was not of his making. He, Kraft and Brady issued a joint statement saying the story was balderdash, and have the facts of the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs to back their contention.
But another story surfaced Friday in the New York Daily News that Belichick, in light of the public exposure of the alleged fractures, may be considering the New York Giants coaching vacancy.
However the drama in Foxborough plays out, the episode is a reminder that success in pro football is a brutally tough thing to manage, given the money, egos and short tenures involved. The Patriots over 17 years with Brady, the best quarterback in NFL history, have managed it best of all. But no empire last forever.
The Seahawks’ own dramas with stars, first with SS Kam Chancellor’s holdout, then with Sherman’s confrontations with coaches and media that nearly had him traded, and now with FS Earl Thomas’s “come get me” blurt to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, have contributed to an uneasy end to the 2017 season, as well as the Legion of Boom, and perhaps portend roster tumult in the the off-season.
The key to Seahawks success has been shared vision and function from Allen through Carroll/Schneider and QB Russell Wilson. But now Wilson is drifting into some crosshairs by critics, some who say he’s doing too much, and others who say he’s not doing enough.
Despite the criticism of Wilson as well as Schneider — how’s that 2017 free agent group of RB Eddie Lacy, LG Luke Joeckel, RG Oday Aboushi and PK Blair Walsh working for you, John? — the Seahawks are in decent but not great shape as Pats help prove there is no drama-free corner of the highly pressurized NFL.
Schneider has never seemed like he’s power-mad or money-mad, so there may be no offers of either asset in Seattle that can over-rule the yearnings of the hometown kid. Perhaps all he can do is consider one larger question:
If you care a lot about the hometown, and you crap out there, where do you go?