The Seahawks have been busy doing some last-minute business before the draft finally arrives Thursday.
They locked up the heart and soul of their defense, All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, to a major contract earlier in the week and made a bunch of minor moves Friday amid negotiations with cornerback Richard Sherman's agents.
On Friday, they re-signed linebacker O'Brien Schofield, added a cornerback, declined to exercise their 2015 option on guard James Carpenter's contract and beefed up their coaching staff. And they also watched the deadline pass without wide receiver Doug Baldwin being signed to an offer sheet by another team, meaning Seattle will retain his rights for next season (as if there were any doubt).
The return of Schofield caps off a bizarre offseason for the linebacker, who signed a two-year deal worth $8 million with the New York Giants in March, only to have the Giants void the deal when he failed a physical due to a knee problem.
Schofield played well for the Hawks early last season, when Chris Clemons and Cliff Avril were out with injuries. But then his playing time mostly vanished, except for special-teams duty. The Hawks obviously didn't value him very highly, but they got back a versatile backup for probably about the minimum ($730,000 for Schofield).
The Hawks also added cornerback A.J. Jefferson, who played with Schofield in Arizona in 2010 and 2011 before being traded to Minnesota in 2012. Jefferson apparently is another attitude-problem gamble; he was arrested on a domestic assault charge in November. The Vikings cut him and Cleveland picked him up, and he ended up on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
With Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond gone, the Hawks need depth at corner. Jefferson joins Deshawn Shead, Akeem Auguste, Phillip Adams, Chandler Fenner, Terrance Parks and Tharold Simon in a deep group of young corners behind the top trio of Sherman, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane. The Hawks almost surely will add a corner in the draft as well, and they will have a heck of a battle in July and August to fill in the last couple of spots in the secondary.
In the last two weeks, the Hawks have fortified their roster with the additions of receiver Sidney Rice, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Schofield and Jefferson. That helps keep them as nimble as possible in the draft, not needing to force positions just to fill out the roster.
One position the Hawks figure to try to help with this draft is left guard, where Carpenter has not proven to be worth the $7.438 million team option for 2015. Assuming he makes the team, he will play out the final season of his contract and have to earn a shot at a new deal from Seattle.
The Hawks are going to draft at least one lineman and make sure they have competition for Carpenter and right tackle Michael Bowie.
Assistant head coach/line guru Tom Cable will have some more help developing all of his young linemen.
Among three coaches added Friday was assistant OL coach Chris Morgan, who worked under Cable in Oakland in 2009 and 2010 and was with Washington the past three seasons. All of those teams ran/run zone blocking schemes with power running backs, so Morgan seems a good fit in Seattle. He will help Cable and assistant line coach Pat Ruel mentor all of the Seahawks' young linemen.
The Hawks also added offensive assistant Will Harriger from Florida and assistant special teams coach Chad Morton from Green Bay. Nate Carroll, coach Pete Carroll's son, will assist Kippy Brown with receivers this year.
One of those receivers is Baldwin, a restricted free agent who was not offered a contract from another team by the deadline Friday and whose rights will belong to the Seahawks. He reportedly has not yet signed his $2.187 million restricted tender, but that should happen by next month.
If they choose to, the Seahawks could withdraw the tender any time until June 16 and retain Baldwin's rights by substituting a new one-year tender for 110 percent of his 2013 salary. That would amount to $610,000.
They are unlikely to do that, and Baldwin probably will sign his tender soon and then hope the Hawks will discuss a long-term deal later this offseason.
General manager John Schneider didn't exactly sound like he was ready to talk about an extension for Baldwin.
“I don't know if he's going to sign his tender or not," Schneider said Wednesday. "Take it one step at a time with everybody. There is a whole group of guys that will be free agents next year that are core players for us. Doug is one of them. K.J. Wright, Malcolm (Smith), (Byron Maxwell). I hate to start naming names, but there is a whole group of guys.”
As for Thomas' new contract, the Seahawks stuck to their usual straightforward MO.
Thomas received a $9.5 million signing bonus and fairly even salary distribution. His original payout for 2014 remained untouched, although the $4.725 million is guaranteed now. In 2015, he gets $5.5 million guaranteed. The last three years, his salary jumps to $8 million (2016) and $8.5 million (2017 and 2018).
With extra cap space this year, the Hawks decided to put a bit more money up front -- simply adding the signing bonus to his original salary and moving a $100,000 workout bonus into salary as well. Instead of counting $5.47 million, he will count $7.37 million.
The Hawks have about $13 million in space left and figure to use some of that for Sherman's deal, which is expected to average $13 million a year and guarantee upwards of $40 million.
MORE HAWK TALK
**Rice is expected to be ready for the season opener, Schneider said. Rice was lost for the season in October after suffering a torn ACL in a Monday night win in St. Louis.
**CB Tharold Simon looks like Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond all over again. Simon spent his rookie season dealing with foot injuries, and he is still recovering from surgery, leading Schneider to say, "It's going to be a little bit of a process getting back in the mix, so we will be careful with him.” Maxwell and Thurmond battled injuries early in their careers as well before becoming productive, so perhaps Simon will follow that route.
**DE Benson Mayowa, who basically redshirted on the 53-man roster last season, seems ready to make his push for major playing time in 2014. Cliff Avril recently said he "has all the tools" to be one of the best ends in the league, and Schneider said, "Benson may have had his best week of practice at the Super Bowl. He is going to be ready to compete hard.”
**Looking at just his extension, Thomas is the third player in Seahawks history to get $10 million a year. Percy Harvin got $11.17 million a year in 2013 and Aaron Curry got $10 million a year as the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft. Even if you count Thomas at $8.9 million (for five years), he is still No. 3. They paid Matt Hasselbeck $8.2 million a year and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Sidney Rice and Russell Okung all $8 million a year.