RENTON — As wild as the Seahawks’ weekend full of transactions seemed, there was, according to Pete Carroll and John Schneider, a method to the roster-shuffling madness.
On Monday the Seahawks announced a handful of moves that were first reported Sunday, including the release of veterans Jordan Babineaux, Owen Schmitt and Kevin Vickerson. Over the weekend the Seahawks released T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the team’s leading receiver last year, and a week ago the team traded cornerback Josh Wilson, who was battling to be a starter. Mansfield Wrotto, who started the past two preseason games at left tackle, was another casualty of the weekend, as was center Steve Vallos, who started eight games over the past two seasons.
But the roster churn that occurred over the course of Labor Day weekend was exactly what the Seahawks coach and general manager were anticipating.
“We needed to do this,” Carroll said. “We could have sat back on it, but I think John and I both would have regretted if the opportunity passed. So we had our sights set on this time, this has not surprised us at all. … I think we’ve really helped our football team and made it known what we’re all about as far as in this locker room. These guys know that we’re going to keep battling to make this team as good as we can make it as soon as we can. That’s the message we’ll send.”
Changes are expected when a new coach and general manager are hired to turn around a team that won just nine games in the past two years, but the amount of moves made a week before the season opener surprised some. Schneider, however, said that timing was necessary because they needed to evaluate what they had.
“You’re talking about proven veterans that clearly have the talent to play in the National Football League,” he said. “It’s a whole evaluation and you’ve got to take it all the way to the end to figure out if you’re making the right decision or not. Do we have a philosophy? Absolutely, but you can’t just go cutting down the forest like you’ve got all the answers. We need to see the whole movie before we try to figure out the answers.”
Of the proven veterans Seattle released, Houshmandzadeh raised the most eyebrows given that his $7 million base salary was guaranteed. Seattle will end up paying the bulk of that to Houshmandzadeh, who on Monday signed with Baltimore, but the Seahawks decided to cut him anyway in order to free up playing time for Mike Williams, who now is most likely a starter, and young players like Golden Tate and Deon Butler.
“Really just playing the young guys,” Scheider said when asked what the reasoning was for releasing Houshmandzadeh. “Much like with Josh, we felt like there was a group of guys behind him that were ready to take a step forward. T.J. is a good football player, he just happens to be a little bit older than the other guys, and we had some guys — Mike Williams, Deion Butler, and Ben Obomanu — we had some guys step forward.”
And despite losing Houshmandzadeh and a handful of other veterans, Schneider believes his team got better over the weekend.
“I think we’re a more talented football team, absolutely,” he said. “We’re bigger, we’re faster. … How those guys come together in terms of timeframe, I can’t answer that, but we’re clearly a more talented football team.”
One move that didn’t happen over the weekend, however, was the release of running back Julius Jones. An ESPN report Sunday said that Jones had been released, but Jones was back on the field with the team for Monday’s practice. According to multiple reports, Jones restructured his contract to keep his job. Jones was scheduled to make $2.45 million this season, a hefty price tag for a backup.
Schneider called Jones Sunday to apologize about the report.
“I have no idea how that got out there,” Schneider said of the report.
Jones said he appreciated the gesture from Schneider, but wasn’t bothered by the premature reports of his demise.
“I’ve been in contact with everybody, and my weekend was business as usual,” he said. “Everything you guys heard was false. I got a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages, but I’m still here. … It’s my seventh year in the league. Nothing really frustrates me or gets under my skin. I’ve seen everything, my brother (Kansas City running back Thomas Jones) has been through everything, so nothing really surprises me, nothing really fazes me.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog