Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider talked with reporters here at the scouting combine this afternoon.
And he confirmed my earlier thought that it will be unlikely for Seattle to use the franchise tag on one of the seven players set to hit free agency in March.
“We’re still evaluating that,” he said. “I don’t necessarily see us using it.”
Many of the questions Schneider fielded had to do with his evaluation of quarterback Russell Wilson during last year’s draft, and why the Seahawks believed at 5-11 he would be successful at the next level.
“We liked him a lot,” Schneider said. “For me to tell you that he was going to do what he did in his first year, I would be lying to you. We were able to acquire Matt Flynn, so we thought that we had a great setup, all the way around. And Tarvaris Jackson actually did a lot of great stuff for us, too in the previous season.”
Schneider also addressed the possibility of trading reserve quarterback Flynn, saying he likes the talent level at the quarterback position right now.
“I think we have a great setup,” Schneider said. “I feel very blessed that we have two quarterbacks like this, two starting-caliber guys. What happened last year didn’t really have a reflection on what Matt did – or Tarvaris for that matter – it was really what Russell did in kind of stepping forward and taking charge. And the way he performed in the preseason was really hard to argue – I think he was like 12 of 18 on his possessions, or something like that (scoring drives during the preseason).
“So we feel really blessed with out situation right now. And it’s so early – everybody involved in their draft meeting – so it’s not like I’ve had a chance to sit down with other general managers, or some of the other people that I’m close without throughout the league to talk about what their situation is. But as you guys well know, we’re always going to listen to everything. And if we’re not doing that, we feel like we’re not doing our job. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that we will do something with Matt.”
Asked if Flynn’s 2013 base salary of $5.25 million is a deterrent for keeping him on the roster, Schneider didn’t hesitate.
“No, because we have different models set up in our cap,” Schneider said. “And obviously we have a model that includes Matt – our primary model.”
Schneider said that Chris Clemons is recovering well after ACL knee surgery, but that he doesn’t know if the veteran defensive end will be available for the beginning of the regular season in September.
“I can’t say; it’s too early to know with that right now,” Schneider said. “But he’s doing a great job. I believe he’s ahead of schedule. I know he’s working like crazy. I just texted him the other day, and he’s doing great.”
Schneider said the uncertainty of Clemons’ availability will not affect how his team moves forward in free agency or the draft.
“It doesn’t really,” he said. “We’re going to kind of go ahead with out plan.”
Schneider was asked if the possibility of Clemons not being ready for the season opener put more pressure on Bruce Irvin being ready to handle starting duties as an every-down defensive end.
“I don’t think it makes it any more important,” Schneider said. “We want him to keep progressing. We knew when we drafting him that we were drafting a raw player that had a unique skill set. So we wanted to be able to have him move forward anyway.”
Schneider didn’t rule the possibility of bringing back defensive linemen Jason Jones and Alan Branch, along with cornerback Marcus Trufant in free agency.
On Branch: “We’re talking to his people. And we have a great relationship with Alan and his representatives. This is just a funky year for free agency. So I think everybody has to kind of hold their water and be somewhat careful when you jump into this thing.”
On Jones: “Jason did a nice job. He’s one of those guys, kind of like we were talking about (with Bruce Irvin) earlier. He did move the quarterback a lot. And he was disruptive. I don’t think he was able to finish as much as he would’ve wanted to. But he’s still a guy that we’re going to keep a close eye on for sure.”
On Trufant: “Marcus played well. He moved inside. It was the first year he played in there, believe it or not. You would have thought that maybe he would have played in there earlier in his career. But he’s one of the free agents that we’re going to continue to evaluate.”