With the draft approaching next week, the Seattle Seahawks got a head start on adding to their roster, agreeing to terms Friday with linebacker O’Brien Schofield, who spent the 2013 season with Seattle, and cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who played in Minnesota last year until being released following a domestic violence arrest.
Schofield, who joined the Seahawks on a one-year deal after being released by Arizona last summer, agreed to a two-year deal with the New York Giants early in free agency, but that deal fell through due to a failed physical. Schofield who had agreed to a two-year, $8 million deal with the Giants, will make the veteran minimum or something very close to it.
Schofield, 27, played sparingly last season once Bruce Irvin returned from suspension, but was on the field for 29 percent of Seattle’s defensive snaps in Super Bowl XLVIII. With Chris Clemons released as a salary cap casualty, Schofield could find a role in the pass-rush rotation depending on how things shake out in training camp and who the Seahawks might add in the draft.
Jefferson, 26, signed with Arizona out of Fresno State as an undrafted free agent in 2010, then was traded to Minnesota in 2012. He was released by the Vikings in November after being arrested for domestic assault. He was originally charged with a felony in that case, but later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge and is on probation for a year.
Prior to his release, Jefferson had appeared in 10 games, playing primarily in nickel and dime packages. With Walter Thurmond leaving in free agency, the Seahawks figure to have an open competition for the nickel package. In four seasons, Jefferson, who is listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, appeared in 43 games, starting 14, and had 109 tackles, 19 passes defensed and two interceptions.
Option declined on Carpenter
If former first-round pick James Carpenter is going to be a Seahawk beyond the 2014 season, he’ll have to prove to his team that he’s worth a new contract.
Under the conditions of the league’s latest collective bargaining agreement, teams can use a fifth-year option on player, but have to decide to do so by a set date prior to the player’s fourth year. Friday was that deadline, and the Seahawks declined to pick up Carpenter’s option, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the 2014 season.
The news hardly comes as a surprise given Carpenter’s inability to consistently hold down a starting job. The No. 25 pick in the 2011 draft, Carpenter was immediately named the starting right tackle, but his rookie season ended after nine games when he suffered a serious knee injury in practice. Carpenter then moved to left guard in 2012, but played in just seven games that year.
He was healthy for the entire 2013 season, but traded time at left guard with Paul McQuistan, starting 10 games. Carpenter also got the starting nod in Super Bowl XLVIII after not playing in Seattle’s previous two playoff games.
Most NFL teams picked up players’ fifth-year options, which are guaranteed only against injury (meaning teams could cut the player before next season with no repercussions if that player is healthy, hardly a guarantee with Carpenter). But picking up the option would have meant paying Carpenter more than $7 million in 2015, a big number for a guard, especially. Perhaps the Seahawks, one of few teams to officially announce a declined option, hope Carpenter will be motivated by having what amounts to a prove-it year in 2014.
Baldwin staying in Seattle
Restricted free agent Doug Baldwin did not sign an offer sheet with another team before Friday’s deadline, meaning the receiver will be with Seattle in 2014 barring a trade or very unexpected retirement.
The Seahawks placed a second-round tender on Baldwin, meaning another team would have had to give up a second-round pick to sign Baldwin, and the Seahawks could always match another team’s offer sheet. So it was expected all along that the Seahawks would keep Baldwin; the passing of Friday’s deadline just makes it official.
Baldwin could still sign a long-term deal with Seattle prior to the 2014 season, but if that doesn’t happen, he’ll have to sign the second-round tender, which would pay him $2.187 million next season, then allow him to hit the open market in 2015.
Coaching staff changes
The Seahawks announced a few minor moves with their coaching staff, adding Will Harriger as an offensive assistant, Chris Morgan as an assistant offensive line coach and Chad Morton as an assistant special teams coach.
Nate Carroll, coach Pete Carroll’s son, goes from offensive assistant to assistant wide receivers coach and John Glenn goes from special teams assistant to quality control/defensive coach.
Harriger has spent his career in the college ranks, primarily coaching linebackers, and most recently coached at Florida. Morgan spent the past three seasons as an assistant offensive line coach with Washington, and before that held the same job in Oakland.
Morton spent the past five seasons with the Green Bay Packers, and served as an assistant special teams coach for the past four.