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False narrative of Seattle Seahawks ‘winning culture’ under Pete Carroll

Vincent Frank

The Seattle Seahawks are coming off their worst performance under longtime head coach Pete Carroll, posting a 7-10 record during the 2021 season.

We already saw some issues with this organization ahead of the 2021 campaign amid reports of a rift between Carroll and franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. While everything seemed to be alright between the two during the season, things changed once the calendar struck January.

There were continued leaks of issues between the two. Primarily, Wilson was not happy about being left out of player personnel decisions. He thought that Carroll took on too much of a role following the passing of owner Paul Allen back in October of 2018.

It all came to a head earlier in March with Seattle shockingly opting to trade Wilson to the Denver Broncos for multiple players, two first-round picks and two second-round selections.

Ten seasons. Ten of the most successful seasons in Seahawks franchise history. An inability for the two sides to come together on a middle ground. The end result was Seattle moving off Wilson for below-market value.

Related: Winners and losers from blockbuste Russell Wilson trade

Later the same day Wilson was traded, the Seattle Seahawks moved off future Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner in another shocking decision. After all, the two were selected roughly 90 minutes apart during the 2012 NFL Draft.

Once reports of Wagner’s release became public record, the eight-time Pro Bowler took to social media to express his surprise over how Seattle handled everything.

This is just the continuation of a theme we’ve seen from the Seahawks under Carroll and general manager John Schneider. That includes the team finding themselves in messy divorces with other all-time great players in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle Seahawks’ culture under Pete Carroll now in question

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when Seattle opted to move off Richard Sherman after he suffered a ruptured Achilles’ during the 2017 season? It became clear at this point that there were chinks in the armor of the Seahawks’ brand.

“You just expect that after you’ve done so much for a franchise that they wouldn’t cut you while you’re hurt. It’s kind of more of a respect thing than anything. But they did. So you’ve kind of got to roll with the business.”

Richard Sherman on the Seattle Seahawks (November, 2018)

It’s no surprise that Sherman ultimately signed with the division rival San Francisco 49ers mere hours after his release from the Seahawks during the spring of 2018.

Fast forward to the fall of 2018 when another franchise great in Earl Thomas injured his leg in a Week 4 game against the Arizona Cardinals. A now-infamous incident took place in which the Pro Bowl safety flipped the bird in the direction of Pete Carroll. Thomas would not play another game with the team — signing a four-year, $55 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens in March of 2019?

Related: Seattle Seahawks 2022 mock draft

Sensing a theme here? It seems as if former Seattle Seahawks players think they were treated like cattle during their time with the organization. That’s no more apparent than the following post from former Seahawks defensive lineman Branden Jackson in response to Wagner’s Tweet.

A member of the Seahawks’ organization from 2017-20, Jackson was released by the organization in August of 2020 after he was found to have suffered spinal injury during a scrimmage earlier that month.

“It’s a situation where (doctors) don’t recommend him playing this season. He really came out of that episode OK, but the testing did show him that he had a physical trait that they want to protect, so everybody has been convinced that the best thing to do is for him not to play this year.

I don’t know that that’s forever, but I do know for right now. He’s not injured right now, but he’s susceptible—it’s similar to situations a couple of our other guys have had in the past. We’re erring on the side of long-term health and taking care of our guys.”

Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll on Jackson’s injury (Aug. 2020)

“Taking care of our guys.” That comment now seems laughable given Jackson’s response to Wagner’s release and the latter’s own belief of what happened behind the scenes. When you factor in Sherman and Thomas, this seems to be more of a pattern than anything else.

Related: Find out where the Seattle Seahawks rank among NFL teams

Russell Wilson situation magnifies Seattle Seahawks’ issues

Russell Wilson
Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

It was immediately ahead of Seattle’s decision to trade Wilson that Carroll told the media said deal was not in the cards.

“It’s commonplace for us to have conversations with teams about all of the players, particularly marquee players. That’s not changed. It’s been the same every year. It’s the same.

We have no intention of making any move there. But the conversations, John has to field those, he always has. But nothing specific.”

Pete Carroll on Russell Wilson (March 2, 2022)

Less than a week later, and Wilson was shipped off to the Broncos in a blockbuster trade. While this would normally seem like a disconnect between Carroll and Schneider, it’s more about Seattle’s brass playing its cards close to the vest in a public forum. Behind the scenes, things were much more different than what Carroll and Co. wanted to let on publicly.

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Without Wilson in the mix, these Seahawks are mere bottom feeders in a division that includes two teams in that of the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams who appeared in last season’s NFC Championship Game.

All the while, it’s being noted that star Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has no desire to play for Pete Carroll in Seattle. That’s how far the mighty have fallen just a couple seasons removed from being top-end title contenders in the NFC. And in reality, it speaks to the culture in the Pacific Northwest.

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