The message Pete Carroll posted above several doorways around the Seahawks’ headquarters before offseason practices began, “ALL IN” is a term often used in poker, describing when a player stakes the remainder of his chips on a hand. Total commitment Pete Carroll expects.
In Seattle, it’s a challenge because that’s what Carroll said he wanted from the players when he took over as the team’s coach, and that’s what he will be looking for when the Seahawks report for training camp this week. Rookies were to report Thursday, veterans Friday and training camp officially begins with two practices Saturday.
Seattle still must sign its two first-round picks, left tackle Russell Okung and safety Earl Thomas. That usually takes an extra few days of negotiation — only one of Seattle’s last four first-round picks signed before training camp.
But that isn’t the biggest question Seattle must answer in August. On its third coach in three seasons, the Seahawks were the most active team in the league this offseason in terms of transactions. The churn of the roster continued Thursday when Seattle agreed to terms with veteran offensive lineman Chester Pitts on a one-year contract that could be worth as much as $2 million.
Pitts has experience at guard and tackle, and he previously played for Alex Gibbs, Seattle’s offensive line coach. Pitts is recovering from micro-fracture surgery on his knee.
Consider it another attempt at an upgrade in which Seattle sought to get deeper this offseason and in most cases younger, too.
Did they get better?
The Headline read “Okung was drafted to play left tackle, a position that is supposed to be a cornerstone” but last year became more like quicksand for Seattle. Walter Jones never did recover from knee surgery, leaving Seattle to cycle through four players at that position.
Thomas was drafted to be a playmaker in the secondary, something this team has lacked. Seattle allowed the third-most passing yards in the league last season, which was actually a slight improvement. The Seahawks were dead last in that category in 2008. They haven’t had a safety intercept more than three passes in any of the past four seasons.
Seattle also lost three of its top four defensive ends last season. Patrick Kerney retired, Darryl Tapp was traded and Cory Redding left to sign with Baltimore as a free agent.
Seattle acquired Chris Clemons, a backup in Philadelphia, to be one starting end, and pushed Red Bryant from tackle to end, but those moves aren’t clear upgrades.
Also, receiver Nate Burleson left as a free agent. He led the Seahawks in yards per catch, and he was the one player that made opponents afraid of getting beaten over the top.
Seattle drafted Golden Tate and signed Mike Williams, who appears ready to become an effective NFL receiver, five years after he was drafted as the No. 10 overall pick in 2005. He hasn’t played a regular-season down in the NFL the past two seasons; can he complete his comeback to the league?
The Seahawks have spent the past six months reshaping this roster, sanding off some of the rough edges during offseason workouts.
But now, the stakes are raised. Starting jobs are on the line. Seattle has 80 players on the roster and a new coach will be watching to make sure they’re totally committed.