A year ago at this time there were national rumors that Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll might be considering retirement.
Now, after a season in which Seattle has been one of the surprise teams in the NFL, Carroll is set to coach the Seahawks into his 70s. The team and Carroll on Monday announced he had signed a contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2021 season. His current deal had been set to expire following the 2019 season.
While the team did not release financial details, NFL.com — the league’s official website — reported the new contract will pay Carroll $11 million a year, making him “one of the highest paid coaches” in the league.
“I am excited to announce that we have extended Head Coach Pete Carroll through the 2021 season,” Jody Allen, Seahawks Chair and Trustee of the Paul G. Allen Trust, said in a statement. “This will continue the championship culture that we have created in Seattle.”
Carroll, who turned 67 Sept. 15, has been the coach of the Seahawks since 2010 and earlier this season became the winningest coach in franchise history — he is 88-54-1 after a 38-31 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night that secured the team’s seventh postseason bid in his nine seasons in Seattle. He is also the only coach to lead the Seahawks to a Super Bowl title, that coming in 2014.
In a brief interview with reporters in the team’s media room after the contract was announced Carroll said the team approached him about a new contract last week and he signed it Monday afternoon.
“The organization has been exceedingly good to me throughout the whole time we’ve been here … and I couldn’t be happier,” Carroll said.
The contract is the fourth Carroll has signed with Seattle. He also inked extensions after the team won the Super Bowl in 2014 and again following the 2016 season.
The extension brings some stability to the franchise in the wake of the death in October of owner Paul Allen.
Allen’s sister, Jody, has taken over control of his assets. There have been some rumblings that she may eventually sell the team. But there have been no reports of any potential buyers amid indications the team is not presently for sale, with Jody Allen apparently not considering it an urgent matter given the enormity of Paul Allen’s estate. The Seahawks are thought to be worth roughly $2.7 billion, which by one estimate would be about 10 percent of Paul Allen’s total holdings.
The new deal means the team of Carroll and general manager John Schneider will continue to lead the Seahawks for at least three more seasons. Schneider signed a contract in 2016 that was widely reported as going through the 2021 season but is actually thought to run through the 2022 season.
Carroll downplayed any suggestion that this season was vital in determining his coaching future with Seattle. But undoubtedly the turnaround of the past few months has everyone involved feeling as if the franchise is again on a winning track after an offseason of change and uncertainty.
After Seattle did not make the playoffs in 2017 for the first time in five years, Carroll orchestrated a massive overhaul in the team’s coaching staff, firing offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, defensive coordinator Kris Richard and offensive line coach Tom Cable. The team also traded or released some of its biggest name players from the 2013 Super Bowl title team, including defensive lineman Michael Bennett and cornerback Richard Sherman.
Had the team flopped this season — as many nationally predicted — Carroll’s future would have been an overriding question heading into the offseason. At 67, he is the oldest coach in the NFL.
When Seattle got off to an 0-2 start, there were more than a few national stories speculating how long Carroll might last.
But after signing his contract Monday in the wake of nine wins in the past 13 games, Carroll said he didn’t view this season as any more critical to his coaching future than any other.
“Every year I think the same in that regard,” he said. “Take it really one year at a time with the projection of I’m kind of on a five-year plan. But that doesn’t have any statement about my contract, it’s just kind of the way somebody taught me to look forward, and it helps.”
Carroll has said he has never thought of a possible end date to his career, often noting that Marv Levy coached the Buffalo Bills until he was 72. Monday made it clear Carroll has no designs of letting up any time soon.
“We love this team,” he said, “… it feels like we are just getting started.”