The scene perfectly summed up the mood in Seattle's locker room the day after a heartbreaking 30-28 loss to the Falcons. Players were disappointed, knowing how close they came to reaching the NFC Championship game, but there was also a lot of optimism looking forward knowing how good this team could potentially be in 2013.
"It definitely sucks to be wrapping it up, everybody saying their last goodbye, but we know we’re building something great here," said safety Earl Thomas. "This is something great to build on for next season. We’ll have new parts, that’s just the nature of the game, but we definitely have a great core here and something to build on."
A lot of that optimism is tied to rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. For a while now, the dominant story line heading into offseasons in Seattle is what the Seahawks would do at quarterback. Now, by all indications, they have their franchise quarterback. And in case anyone had any doubt that Wilson's work ethic is otherworldly, it's worth noting that he wasn't in the locker room packing stuff up because he was studying film from Sunday's game.
Wilson said he'll take a brief break to finally take his wife on a honeymoon (today is their one-year anniversary) but as Pete Carroll noted, Wilson only plans to be gone for a week. Then Wilson plans on getting back to work preparing for next year.
"Poor girl," Carroll said.
Joking aside, the play of Wilson, and yes, his work ethic, has everyone in the Seahawks locker room excited about next season, even if they are still hurting after a season-ending loss.
"Having him, knowing what he’s capable of doing, what he’s done throughout the course of the season, it’s going to be a big boost for us," said receiver Doug Baldwin.
--TE Zach Miller, who injured his foot early but stayed in the game, was on crutches and wearing a walking boot, but said the injury was not one that would require surgery and affect his availability for offseason workouts. He said that if the Seahawks were still playing, he would have been able to go this week.
Carroll said that other than Chris Clemons, who is scheduled to have ACL surgery soon, everyone should be healthy when OTAs begin in the spring. Other players will need minor procedures (Carroll didn't say who), but Clemons' surgery appears to be the only major one.
--Most of Seattle's key players are under contract next season, but some notable names, including long-time Seahawks Leroy Hill and Marcus Trufant, are heading towards free agency. Defensive tackle Alan Branch, along with Hill, are the only starters not under contract.
"I would like to play, of course," Trufant said. "I’m a competitor, so I always want to be on the field. I’ve been doing it for a long time, I love the sport, I love the game, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ll take it as it comes."
Asked if he'd prefer to continue his career in Seattle, the Tacoma native said, "That’d definitely be my first choice. Here is home, it’ll always be home. To be able to play in my home town, I’ve been blessed for 10 years to do that. I’m just going to take it as it comes."
Hill, who along with Trufant is one of two players remaining from Seattle's Super Bowl team, said he also hopes to be back, but has to wait to see how things play out.
"If I do leave, I’d definitely hate it," he said.
Branch, who spent the last two year here, said he too would love to be back.
"I love the team here," he said. "I would love to be back here. I have developed great friendships with the guys, especially in the D-line room, but throughout the team. I didn’t really have as many friends as I do on this team on any team I had in Arizona. I think it’s a special group."
--Carroll confirmed that both of Seattle's coordinators, Gus Bradley and Darrell Bevell--have been called back for follow up interviews after interviewing for head coaching jobs last week. According to reports, Bevell interviewed with the Bears and Bradley interviewed with the Eagles and Chargers.
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