As the Seahawks return to John Schneider’s home state to face his first NFL team, it is a good time to give the general manager some credit for his recent work in Seattle.
In March 2018, we called out Schneider for a mostly poor five-year run that helped lead to a slow decline of the franchise — from Super Bowl champs, to Super Bowl losers, to playoff losers, to playoff watchers.
Schneider definitely had a rough 2013-16 — in the draft, trades and free agency — but he has been very aggressive the past three years while trying to make up for previous mistakes, to replace departed stars and to keep a competitive roster for Pete Carroll.
He did especially good work this year, helping the Hawks win 11 games despite the NFL’s highest injury rate. They would not have gotten this far if Schneider had not made three really good trades for veterans and found a few draft picks who were able to contribute as rookies.
To recap his shaky work prior to 2017: The only consistent contributors Schneider added from 2013 to 2016 were Luke Willson (2013); Justin Britt (2014); Tyler Lockett and Frank Clark (2015); and Germain Ifedi and Jarran Reed (2016).
In 2017, he prepared for the looming end of the Legion of Boom by drafting Shaquill Griffin (and a couple of safeties who have not worked out), signing Bradley McDougald and acquiring Justin Coleman. And he drafted Chris Carson, who got hurt that year but returned for two strong seasons before being lost again just before the end of this season. McDougald continues to play well, but Griffin and Carson appear to be the only long-term Seattle starters from that 11-player draft class.
Schneider also traded for Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown that year, in response to roster mistakes (picking Malik McDowell and not finding a decent left tackle). Richardson was gone after that season (making that an expensive trade), but Brown re-signed and had been a stalwart until knee surgery sidelined him at the end of this season.
Seattle still has 17 of 20 draft picks from the past two drafts (three on IR), but the jury is out on many of them — especially top-three picks Rashaad Penny, Rasheem Green, Will Dissly, L.J. Collier and Marquise Blair. Can Penny and Dissly get and stay healthy? Can Green, who took a big step this season, turn into a productive starter in Year 3? Will Blair be ready to replace McDougald in 2021? Will Collier recover from his bust of a rookie year?
Those questions will be answered next season and beyond. For now, at least the Hawks are getting contributions from a bunch of Day 2-3 picks from the past two drafts: D.K. Metcalf, Travis Homer, Tre Flowers, Michael Dickson, Jamarco Jones, Shaquem Griffin, Cody Barton and Ugo Amadi.
Schneider has filled other holes with great veteran additions. He made three incredible trade acquisitions in 2019 (Jadeveon Clowney, Quandre Diggs and Jacob Hollister) and brought back three former Seahawks (Willson, Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin) during the season.
Clowney was great before getting injured in his best game, vs. the 49ers in Week 10, and is fighting through that core injury to help the Hawks in the playoffs (and earn a big contract). The Diggs trade was basically an admission that Carroll couldn’t make it work with Lano Hill and Tedric Thompson, the safeties Schneider drafted after Shaquill Griffin in 2017. The Hawks are 5-1 when Diggs plays.
On offense, Hollister took over as the top tight end (even if Willson was the starter) after Dissly was lost in Week 6, and Lynch has famously returned to share the backfield with Homer (with Turbin providing depth).
Schneider has done his part to try to keep this team patched together for this playoff run. As soon as it ends — whether it’s in Green Bay, San Francisco or Miami — we’ll see whether he can keep making the right moves in 2020 and set this team up to win more Super Bowls.