By John Boyle Herald Writer
SEATTLE — A year ago, Pete Carroll didn’t hesitate when asked about his team’s needs heading into the offseason. He wanted pass rushers, the Seahawks went out and got them, and the additions of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were a big part of Seattle’s Super Bowl championship season.
This year? It’s not about need as much as just staying the course and working to improve, Carroll said.
“The priority is for us to get back to work and work really hard again,” Carroll said. “That’s going to be more important… it’s not going to be something from outside of us. We have what we need, we just need to get back to work when the times comes, with the right attitude and right focus, and that’s all I’m concerned about. We’ll have an opportunity to add some players to our team through the draft and all. We’ll take a good look at free agency. There are some very difficult decisions we’ll have to make, as you always do this time of year, but I don’t see anything we need to add, we just need to get better. These players know that they got better all the way until the last game of the season. That’s always out there for us and that will continue to be our focus.”
As for those “very difficult decisions,” many of them will have to do with how the Seahawks manage the salary cap as many of their young stars get to the end of their rookie deals. If the Seahawks are going to spend money to extend players like Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman, that could mean parting ways with high-priced veterans.
Another immediate concern are players who are heading into free agency, the most notable two being Michael Bennett and Golden Tate. After celebrating their title Wednesday, both free agents made it clear they want to stay in Seattle, but of course there is always a business side of things.
“I want to be back here 100 percent. I love the team, I love my teammates,” Bennett said. “Pete does a great job of letting us play, so I want to be a part of that. I know we can go back and win a Super Bowl again with all these guys. It’s a business, but I definitely want to be back.”
Martellus Bennett, Michael’s brother who is a tight end for the Chicago Bears, has made it known he’d love a family reunion in Chicago, but Michael Bennett said that won’t be a big factor in his decision.
“That doesn’t matter much,” he said. “I know he wants me to come out there and get a chance to play with him, but I’m definitely a Seahawk and I definitely want to be here for the rest of my career.”
Tate too wants to be a Seahawk, noting as a receiver, facing Seattle’s secondary doesn’t sound fun.
“I would love to be a part of it,” he said. “I definitely do not want to play against Seattle, I’ll tell you that. I don’t want to play against Richard Sherman and Bam Bam, for sure. But we’ll see, only time will tell. I think I’ve set myself up regardless of it’s here—hopefully it’s here—or if it’s elsewhere with the way I play the game. We’ll see. I can’t say enough great things about Seattle, I really enjoy everything, even talking you knuckleheads (media) everyday. I love it, so we’ll see.”
Asked about a comment he had made in an interview with Sports Radio KJR a day earlier, Tate reiterated that he might give a bit of a hometown discount to the Seahawks because he’d rather be happy for a little less money that in a bad situation with a slightly larger paycheck.
“To an extent,” he said. “I’ve still go to take care of myself and my family. I kind of have a number in mind. I haven’t talked to my agent yet, I’ve kind of been trying to enjoy the Super Bowl for now, then take the next step hopefully in the next week or two once things settle down. But in my eyes, I’d rather stay and play in a great organization and a great city around great people, around great teammates for a little less than go to a crappy city and win a ballgame every now and then and be miserable for six months and have a fanbase who doesn’t care about the sport. So you’ve got to give a little, take a little, whatever. We’ll see how it works out. I think I’ve done everything in my power to earn the respect and the trust of this organization. They know what they’re going to get from me, they know I’m going to work hard. The last two seasons I’ve started, I’ve missed a total of one game, so I think I’m reliable. I know the system, I know what coach Carroll wants. So we’ll see. Hopefully things work out.”