Before the question had begun to be asked, the Seahawks delivered a timely present to fans on Christmas Eve. The contract of coach Pete Carroll, the winningest coach in club history, was extended through 2021.
The death of longtime owner Paul Allen caused inevitable speculation about the franchise’s direction. But Jody Allen, his sister and now team chairperson and trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust, put an end to it with the surprise announcement Monday.
“This will continue the championship culture that we have created in Seattle,” she said in a statement, which followed the Seahawks’ most significant win of the season, 38-31 over Kansas City that secured a return to the playoffs for Seattle after a one-year break.
Meeting briefly with reporters after his usual Monday press conference, Carroll said an offer to extend beyond the 2019 expiration came up only last week.
“The organization has been exceedingly good to me throughout the whole time we’ve been here,” he said. “They have continued to take that position. I couldn’t be happier.”
Coaches salaries typically aren’t disclosed, but the Raiders brought back Jon Gruden to the sidelines in Oakland with a $100 million deal over 10 years. NFL.com, the league’s house organ, reported Monday that Carroll will earn more than $11 million annually. Earlier speculation was that Carroll was making $9 million. New England’s Bill Belichick reportedly makes an NFL-best $12.5 million annually.
As important, Carroll’s extension aligns him with general manager John Schneider, his tandem partner when they joined the Seahawks in January 2010. Schneider in 2016 signed an extension through 2021.
The pair undertook a significant makeover of the coaching staff and player roster in the offseason after missing the playoffs following a 9-7 season. To the surprise of nearly everyone, the Seahawks are 9-6 and will be the fifth or sixth seed in the NFC playoffs that follow Sunday’s home game against Arizona that ends the regular season.
Carroll has taken the Seahawks to seven postseason appearances with a combined 97-59-1 record, back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 2013-14, 10-plus wins in five consecutive seasons (2012-16), and four NFC West Division titles. Prior to his arrival, Seattle had 10-plus wins only five times in the previous 34 years.
Carroll, who turned 67 Sept. 15, has neither slowed down nor offered an inkling of wanting to pursue something else. This year’s renaissance has him as jacked as he’s been in his Seattle tenure. After the game Sunday at the raucous Clink, he was animated and effusive.
“I told them at halftime, this is it,” he said when the Seahawks were up 14-10. “You can feel the juice. This is what it’s all about. Let’s ride it and finish this game off. It was in everybody. That’s what it felt like in the past.
“It is really thrilling for the coaching staff to ge able to enjoy it, see how cool it is, and pull it off.”
Seattle has advanced to the divisional round in six of the last eight postseasons, winning two NFC Championships and one Super Bowl, while claiming the No. 1 seed in the NFC twice.
Paul Allen bought the club in 1997 from Ken Behring to end an acrimonious tenure and ushered in a well-funded period that became well-managed under CEO Tod Leiweke in 2002. The Seahawks made their first Super Bowl in 2006 under coach Mike Holmgren.
Allen’s death Oct. 15 from a recurrence of lymphoma was a personal loss for many in the organization, and created unease about the future. Absent a spouse, children or a known successor other than his sister, who had little involvement in the football enterprise, it opened the possibility of a sale. The NFL has indicated there’s zero consideration of permitting a relocation from one of the most ardent fan bases in sports.
A sale may yet happen, but it would appear that a new owner will inherit a football management team of considerable success and financial obligation. The estimated sale value is at least $2.5 billion, and league rules require a primary owner have a minimum 40 percent investment. Even billionaires have a hard time thinking of forking over nearly $1 billion in cash money.
For awhile, anyway, the Seahawks status remains quo. After an abrupt makeover that will get him deserved votes for coach of the year, there seems plenty of juice to go around.