John Schneider's attendance at the recent pro days for USC's Sam Darnold and Wyoming's Josh Allen sparked an obvious question:
Why is the Seattle Seahawks' general manager scouting top quarterback prospects when he's already set at the position with Russell Wilson?
The short answer is he's doing his due diligence like any good GM should. But there's also a looming contract negotiation for Wilson and an element of uncertainty -- not doubt, mind you, but at least some uncertainty -- over his future with the Seahawks beyond 2018. That could be at play to some degree here as well.
Here are five thoughts on the situation:
1. Schneider knows as well as any GM that crazy things can happen with quarterbacks in the first round. Recall that he was working in the Green Bay Packers' front office in 2005 when they chose Aaron Rodgers after he unexpectedly fell all the way to 24th overall. Brady Quinn -- the 22nd pick in 2007 -- is another recent example of a highly rated quarterback being available much later than projected. No one expects Allen or Darnold to fall out of the top five, let alone to still be on the board by the time Seattle is scheduled to pick at No. 18. UCLA's Josh Rosen and Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield are also widely projected to be taken by then. But the fact it has happened before means that it could happen again, as unlikely as it might be. So it makes sense for Schneider to do his homework just in case. He told the NFL Network he wanted to attend Allen's pro day because he had never seen the quarterback throw in person.
2. Along similar lines, any of those quarterbacks could become available down the road even if they're long gone by the time Seattle picks. Just consider all of the players who were picked high in the 2013 draft that the Seahawks have added over the past two years: Luke Joeckel, Dion Jordan, Eddie Lacy, Barkevious Mingo and D.J. Fluker. All were first-rounders except Lacy, who was chosen in the second round. Schneider often talks about how it's an organizational philosophy to at least take a look-see at every potential move that could make the team better, even if nothing comes to fruition in the vast majority of cases. That could be part of the reasoning here.
3. As for Wilson's future in Seattle, a few things to consider: He's got two years left on his contract and the Seahawks' M.O. has been to extend players no more than one year away from free agency. Besides, Wilson has plenty of incentive to wait until then anyways. Why do a deal before Rodgers and Matt Ryan sign market-setting extensions first? Also remember, Wilson will be playing for a new offensive coordinator in Brian Schottenheimer. He would undoubtedly want to give that partnership a trial run in 2018 before committing to it long-term sight unseen. That all means the two sides are likely heading toward negotiations a year from now on an extension that could easily top $30 million per season. It's why some have wondered if there's some posturing going on, with Wilson revisiting his baseball interest by spending a few days in spring training with the Yankees and Schneider, in an interview with the NFL Network, volunteering that he went to Wyoming's pro day to see Allen specifically.
4. In case you haven't noticed, the core of the Seahawks' roster is turning over with the likes of Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Jimmy Graham already gone. Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril, who are both injured, could follow. That would help explain why Wilson's camp, as the NFL Network reported, asked Schneider after he attended Allen's pro day if there was anything they needed to know. Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks who are still in their prime are usually immune to even the most significant of roster transformations, but you just never know how things could play out next offseason. The most likely scenario by a wide margin is Wilson signing another extension that keeps him in Seattle for several more seasons. But it also wouldn't be completely unfathomable for negotiations to reach an impasse and for both sides to part ways. And that possibility would give Schneider more incentive to do his homework on this year's quarterback prospects.
5. Might that agitate Wilson? Sure, but that could actually be a good thing. Coach Pete Carroll had an interesting comment when he said at the scouting combine that he hoped Schottenheimer would challenge Wilson "like maybe he's never been challenged before." It felt more like something said with intent than merely a throwaway line. Why would the Seahawks feel like Wilson needs to be challenged? For one thing, as good as he was for much of 2017 -- he was in the MVP conversation while carrying an offense that had no running game and a underperforming line -- Wilson faltered toward the end of the season. There's room for improvement in a few areas of his game, such as consistently getting rid of the ball on time. He was also oddly shaky early in games yet exceptional in the fourth quarter last season. So even if it wasn't the intention to give Wilson a nudge by publicly eyeing quarterback prospects, there could be a benefit to him noticing.