John Schneider apparently did not want to leave Seattle, as scuttlebutt had intimated, and it is no surprise that Jody Allen gave him a five-year extension (probably with a big pay hike).
So the Schneider-Pete Carroll show continues uninterrupted, 11 years and counting. But they both need to improve their job performance if the Seahawks are ever going to be true contenders again.
Schneider and Carroll deservedly get a lot of praise for keeping the Seahawks a perennial playoff team (nine appearances in 11 years). But a lot of fans are tired of the predictable and avoidable early exits from the playoffs.
Since the Super Bowl XLIX debacle, the Hawks are 3-5 in the playoffs and have not made it back to the NFC title game. They have been bounced in the first game twice in the past three years – both times due to poor offensive planning and play.
K.J. Wright said he thought this team was the best one since the 2014 club that blew the Super Bowl against the Patriots. But, perhaps blinded by wins over subpar teams in the second half, he apparently failed to notice that the offense had been in the tank since midseason. It still was baffling to see the total ineptitude of that unit vs. the Rams. Thus, it was not a huge surprise that Carroll fired Brian Schottenheimer on Tuesday.
As we have previously pointed out, Schneider has to do a better job on his end, too. For one, he needs a long-term plan. Due to poor drafts in 2016 and 2017, he basically has been patching holes since dismantling the Legion of Boom in 2018. Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner and Jason Myers are the only vets signed beyond 2021 at this moment (Wilson is the only one signed through 2023).
Schneider has added a few key veterans the past two years, and this is the year to start locking them up with extensions and creating a core beyond 2021. As we said in our offseason priorities post, Jamal Adams and Carlos Dunlap top that list. Michael Dickson and Tyler Lockett also should be extended, and Schneider will have to make some market-based calls on Quandre Diggs and Jarran Reed: Extend them, keep them for one more year or trade them. Brandon Shell and RFA Poona Ford also could merit extensions later in the year, after the others are addressed.
(For those concerned about the 2021 salary cap, most of these extensions would give Seattle more immediate cap space. And the team’s cap is wide open in 2022 and beyond.)
Aside from creating a new core, Schneider needs to improve in two other areas as his tenure continues: the draft and not overpaying “names” in free agency.
Yeah, we’re hoping for a lot on that first score. Schneider has been pretty bad in the draft since 2013, ranking 25th in the NFL (through 2019). All you need to know about his 2018 draft: Dickson, a fifth-round punter, was his best pick. Schneider surely has his fingers crossed for more from the 2019-20 crews, especially second-round redshirts Marquise Blair and Darrell Taylor.
Schneider gave up a bunch of 2021 draft stock in trades (Adams costing a 1 and 3), so the GM will have to be creative to put together his beloved volume draft this year (he has a 2, 4, 5 and 7 at this point). It’s why we put forth the possibility of trading Reed or Diggs.
Schneider, like all NFL GMs, surely is eager and anxious to learn the 2021 salary cap. Teams are bracing for it to drop by as much as $23 million, to $175 million. But it seems likely that the NFL will try to avoid putting most of its teams in such a ridiculous cap crunch – there are rumblings that the cap could remain flat instead.
Once that is resolved, probably by late February, Schneider and cap architect Matt Thomas will know their exact cap resources for 2021 (and should have a better idea of what 2022 might look like). They should have a plan for either eventuality.
Hopefully that plan does not involve overpaying guys like Greg Olsen or Bruce Irvin again. For as conservative as he is in free agency, Schneider makes some really bad moves sometimes. He way overpaid former first-rounders Luke Joeckel ($8 million in 2017) and Ziggy Ansah ($9 million in 2019) and then did the same with Olsen ($7 million) and Irvin ($4.5 million) last offseason (in addition to also overpaying B.J. Finney and Cedric Ogbuehi).
At this point, it is too much to hope Schneider will fix his flaws. We just have to hope he continues to make savvy veteran trades for guys like Diggs, Adams and Dunlap, continues to pluck under-the-radar players such as Ford and D.J. Reed to make up for his draft misses and finally nails down a new core.
Like Carroll, Schneider has to do better if the Hawks are going to get back to the Super Bowl.