The Seattle Seahawks rewarded head coach Pete Carroll with a new three-year contract Friday (April 4). Carroll's original five-year deal he signed in January 2010 was set to expire after next season. His new deal runs through 2016.
"This was a huge priority for us coming into the offseason," general manager John Schneider said in a press conference. "We knew it was around the corner and it was, quite honestly, we're trying to take care of our own people and keep our young players together but where do you start? You start at the top."
The team did not release financial terms but the new contract is assumed to be a raise over his $7 million annual salary and reportedly makes him one of the three highest-paid coaches in the NFL.
The Seahawks are coming off their first Super Bowl victory. Carroll is 38-26 in four seasons and 5-2 in the playoffs. Carroll, 62, is the second-oldest head coach in the NFL and one of just seven current coaches with a Super Bowl title.
"I think it's really exciting, it's really a statement of our commitment and our staying power and opportunity to do something special here," Carroll said.
Carroll left Southern Cal after the 2009 season to take control of the Seahawks. He also coached the New England Patriots and New York Jets.
"I loved my time at USC and I was having the time of my life being part of that wonderful school and all the things that we were doing," Carroll said. "But I knew there was another challenge out there and that was coming to the league."
After inheriting a 5-11 squad, Carroll guided the Seahawks to consecutive 7-9 seasons before breaking out in 2012 with an 11-5 mark and a spot in the playoffs.
Seattle went 13-3 last year and made its run to the Super Bowl title, beating the Denver Broncos 43-8.
--The Seahawks need neither to reload nor rebuild this offseason.
Instead, their goal is to retain as much as possible of the roster that just won the Super Bowl, within the constraints of the salary cap.
So as the free agency signing period began Tuesday, Seattle's task is more about re-signing many of its key players --- and preparing to extend a few others in the coming year --- than it is making a big splash with new additions.
"Our focus is keeping our own guys and keeping this team together the best we can," coach Pete Carroll said in an interview this week with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
The Seahawks took a big step toward doing that when they re-signed defensive end Michael Bennett to a four-year contract worth as much as $28.5 million with guarantees of $16 million.
Bennett will solidify a defensive line that will still undergo some change. Seattle released veteran defensive end Red Bryant to cut enough salary to make room for Bennett, and also release end Chris Clemons. They lost tackles Clinton McDonald in free agency, but re-signed tackle Tony McDaniel.
Seattle's other big question heading into free agency was receiver Golden Tate. Tate was the team's leading receiver and punt returner in 2013 and has said that he'd love to stay with the Seahawks.
But as free agency neared, there were also rumors that Tate could be in line for the kind of offers that the Seahawks might not be willing to match. That was the case as Tate signed with the Lions.
Now, the Seahawks find themselves needing to find a replacement either in free agency, or a draft that is said to be particularly deep at that position this season.
The Seahawks have to try to maintain their team while also preparing for extensions over the next year for three big-ticket players -- safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks are expected to extend Thomas before the 2014 season, and then likely deal with Sherman and Wilson after the 2014 season.
While the Seahawks will inevitably bring in some free agents from other teams to fill holes, maintain that core of their own players is the priority over the next few years.
--The NFL announced each team's preseason schedule without precise dates or times, except for national TV games and the final preseason week in which all games will be on Thurs. Aug. 28. Week 1 games are Aug. 7-10, Week 2 Aug. 14-18 and Week 3 Aug. 21-24.
The Seahawks will play at home against San Diego in Week 2 and Chicago in Week 3, while going on the road to play Denver in Week 1 and Oakland in Week 4.
--Former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate was quiet in the days following his departure to the Lions as a free agent. Earlier he said he might consider a "hometown discount" to stay with the Super Bowl champions.
He said then, "I would rather take a little less to be happy and win ball games than to take way more and go to a crappy city where the fans don't give a crap about the team."
After signing a reported $31.25 million deal over five years, Tate opened up ni a radio interview, saying, "I didn't mean a 40 percent discount. I'm going to earn in one year at Detroit what Seattle was going to pay me for two years. Seattle offered numbers that were laughable. I thought, 'I've given you everything and this is what you give me?'
"Considering I was there for four years, and started two of those years. I missed one game in those two years. I did everything right and wasn't a trouble maker. And what they offered, I was like, 'Is this serious?' The numbers (they) shot at me were not first-priority, like they said they wanted to do for me to stay in Seattle."
Tate realizes the Seahawks have players they have to deal with down the road like quarterback Russell Wilson, safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman.
"It's a business and I get it," he said. "But I felt I was undervalued a little bit considering all I had done. I'm going to miss the city of Seattle, but I really had no choice. I did my very best to stay in Seattle. I leave with my head high."
--The Seahawks not only cut Red Bryant but also receiver Sidney Rice, which combined to save the team more than $12 million in salary cap money. Bryant quickly signed with Jacksonville while teams are likely waiting to see the market on Rice, who suffered an ACL injury at St. Louis on Oct. 28.
--Seattle pared its own list of free agents to 13 when it re-signed tight end Anthony McCoy on Monday. McCoy played in every game as a spot starter and reserve tight end in 2011 and 2012 but missed the 2013 season with an Achilles injury. McCoy will join the fray at tight end where the team is expected to restructure the contract of veteran Zach Miller and also has Luke Willson, who impressed as a rookie in 2013.
After re-signing McCoy, general manager John Schneider said, "We're extremely excited to be able to retain a young player like Anthony, one of our own players who was important to the offense before his unfortunate injury. He still has a huge upside in our mind. We felt badly for him last year going through the Achilles injury and that he was unable to play during the season and in the Super Bowl. We feel like he's a well-rounded tight end and we're very happy to have him back in the mix."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't know if there was any doubt, but there was a lot of speculation and a lot of the teams tried to get me to come there, but ultimately I wanted to come back and get a chance to play with these guys and just win some more games," --- Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett on re-signing with the Seahawks.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--Defensive end Chris Clemons was released by the Seahawks, who will save $7.5 million against the salary cap.
Clemons was disposable because of his salary and the presence of defensive ends Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Seattle drafted defensive tackles Jordan Hill and Jesse Williams in 2013. The Seahawks released defensive end Red Bryant and re-signed Bennett, who led the team in sacks last season.
Clemons had double-digit sacks three straight seasons before posting 4.5 in 2013.
--WIDE RECEIVER: The big question mark entering free agency was how willing the Seahawks would be to keep Golden Tate. That was answered quickly when Tate signed with the Lions on the second day of free agency. The Seahawks would undoubtedly have liked to add a receiver or two in free agency or the draft, even if Tate had re-signed. Now, the needs at receiver increase greatly.
--TIGHT END: The expectation is that the team is likely to restructure the contract of veteran Zach Miller, who is due for a $7 million cap hit in 2014 on his current deal. If so, and if Miller agrees, then this is another spot where the team may not have great needs, though would undoubtedly look to add another body or two for depth and long-term development. But if Miller doesn't return, then as is the same with the receiver corps, finding more players where will become more urgent.
OFFENSIVE LINE: The offensive line needs attention after a season in which quarterback Russell Wilson, nimble though he may be, was sacked 44 times. The team also lost starting right tackle Breno Giacomini in free agency. As it stands, guard may be the main area of need for Seattle on the OL with James Carpenter yet to live up to his status as a No. 1 pick in 2011 and J.R. Sweezy also still developing. A good depth player, Paul McQuistan, left in free agency.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--FB Michael Robinson returned to the team at mid-season after being released in August. He's 31 and has lofty post-football aspirations, already having done some work for the NFL Network. But he has also indicated he'd like to return. Might be a Seattle-or-bust situation for Robinson.
--LB O'Brien Schofield had agreed to a two-year contract with the Giants, but failed the physical and the deal was put on hold.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--WR Doug Baldwin (tendered at $2.187M with second-round pick as compensation) emerged as the team's second-leading receiver in 2013 with Percy Harvin injured. The second-round tender almost assures he will be back in 2014. Baldwin did not sign the tender and has said he hopes the tender leads to talks for a longer-term deal now, though the team may be willing to wait.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Mike Morgan (tendered at $570,000) was a valuable special teams player in 2013 but played little at linebacker. He'll likely be back.
--DE Michael Bennett: Potential UFA; $28.5M/4 yrs, $16M guaranteed.
--K Steven Hauschka: UFA; $9.15M/3 yrs, $3.35M guaranteed.
--QB Tarvaris Jackson: UFA; terms unknown.
--C Lemuel Jeanpierre: Potential RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--S Jeron Johnson: Potential RFA; $2.187M/1 yr.
--TE Anthony McCoy: Potential UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Tony McDaniel: UFA; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--CB Phillip Adams: UFA Raiders; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--TE Travis Beckum: FA; $730,000/1 yr.
--WR Taylor Price: UFA Jaguars; terms unknown.
--G/C Steve Schilling: Not tendered as ERFA by Chargers; terms unknown.
--DT D'Anthony Smith: FA; $570,000/1 yr.
--CB Brandon Browner: UFA Patriots; $15.15M/3 yrs, $1M guaranteed.
--DE Red Bryant (released).
--TE Kellen Davis: UFA Giants; terms unknown.
--T Breno Giacomini: UFA Jets; $18M/4 yrs, $2.5M SB/$7M guaranteed.
--S Chris Maragos: UFA Eagles; terms unknown.
--DT Clinton McDonald: UFA Buccaneers; $12M/4 yrs.
--T/G Paul McQuistan: UFA Browns; $3M/2 yrs, $750,000 guaranteed.
--WR Sidney Rice (released).
--WR Golden Tate: UFA Lions; $31.25M/5 yrs, $13.25M guaranteed.
--CB Walter Thurmond: UFA Giants; $3M/1 yr, $1M SB/$2M guaranteed.
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