Carroll shocked by decision to move on from him, tension with ownership cited
After 14 seasons, 139 regular season wins, 10 playoff appearances and a Super Bowl championship, Pete Carroll’s successful tenure as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks has come to an end. The Seahawks announced on Tuesday that Carroll would not be returning in 2024, bringing a shocking close to one of the most accomplished coaching runs in franchise history.
Carroll, 72, made the playoffs in 10 of his 14 seasons in Seattle and reached two Super Bowls, defeating the Denver Broncos 43-8 to win Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 season. His .650 regular season winning percentage is by far the best in Seahawks history.
However, the 2022 season represented a second straight losing campaign for Seattle and ownership decided it was time for a change despite Carroll having two years left on his contract. At his final press conference on Friday, an emotional Carroll said he was caught off guard by the decision and insinuated there was tension with ownership over “non-football people” deciding the direction of the franchise.
“I’m disappointed that we have to make this turn now. I didn’t want to have to do that,” Carroll said. “[…] The people that make decisions here have to make their decisions, and they made a commitment to take a turn, so that’s just the way it happens.”
Quinn or Harbaugh early favorites to replace Carroll
With Carroll out, the Seahawks will now look to find a new coach to lead their franchise back to prominence in the competitive NFC West division. Early speculation for Carroll’s replacement has centered on former Seahawks defensive coordinator and current Dallas Cowboys DC Dan Quinn or former Seahawks offensive coordinator Jim Harbaugh, now the head coach at the University of Michigan.
The betting favorite is Quinn, who has rebuilt the Cowboys defense into a top unit over the past two seasons and previously won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks when he was their defensive coordinator from 2013-14. Quinn has received strong endorsements from prominent former Seahawks like Richard Sherman, who said Quinn and the Seahawks would be a “match made in heaven.” Quinn will likely receive interest from other teams like Carolina and Denver, so Seattle may need to act fast if they want to bring back the architect of the “Legion of Boom” defenses.
Harbaugh has had a successful run at Michigan since 2015 but has a strong history with the Seahawks, having coached under Carroll and coordinated their offense during their lone Super Bowl season in 2013. Harbaugh is an offensive-minded coach who could help the Seahawks maximize the talents of quarterback Geno Smith, who impressed this past season. However, Harbaugh recently signed an extension to stay at Michigan, so it may require draft compensation for Seattle to pry him away from Ann Arbor.
Other names like Broncos DC Ejiro Evero, 49ers OC Mike McDaniel, Eagles OC Shane Steichen and Michigan State HC Mel Tucker have been floated as dark horse candidates. But early indications point toward Quinn or Harbaugh as Carroll’s likely successor in Seattle.
Carroll “heartbroken” to say goodbye
Friday’s press conference was an emotional scene at the VMAC practice facility, as Carroll addressed reporters and team employees to bid farewell after 14 unforgettable years. Carroll got choked up as he expressed his gratitude towards the organization, his coaches and players, and the community for their role in the most successful tenure the franchise has seen under one head coach.
“It breaks my heart to have to leave here but I’m really excited what the opportunities might be out there,” Carroll said.
Carroll later suggested there wasn’t complete alignment between him and team ownership over the long-term vision for the roster, implying that held some sway in his ousting.
“You have to give yourself to the resource that owns the franchise and says ‘this is what I’d like to do.’ I don’t feel like that’s right at this time,” Carroll commented. “I’m disappointed we have to make this turn but I understand.”
Overall though, Carroll emphasized his pride in what was accomplished over the past 14 seasons.
“It’s been a blast. A thrill every step of the way,” Carroll remarked. “I couldn’t have been more fortunate to have had this time here with the 12s and everybody that follows us and loves this team.”
What’s next for Carroll and the Seahawks?
At just 72 years old, Carroll doesn’t intend to ride off into the sunset following his Seattle exit. He said he plans to continue coaching and new opportunities could arise as more jobs open up around the league.
With other legendary coaches like Bill Belichick and Nick Saban potentially stepping aside soon, some close to Carroll believe he still has plenty of fuel in the tank to take on another challenge. One team that would seemingly be a great fit is the San Francisco 49ers, Carroll’s bitter NFC West rivals who saw their own coach Kyle Shanahan’s future slip into some doubt following the Niners collapse in the playoffs. It would be an unbelievable plot twist to see Carroll switch sides in one of the league’s top rivalries, but those once unthinkable shifts are becoming more common, like Brett Favre going to the Vikings or Brady joining the Buccaneers. Carroll in San Francisco might not be as crazy as it sounds should Shanahan be ousted after his team’s latest postseason implosion.
As for the Seahawks, finding their next coach is obviously top priority with free agency and draft season fast approaching. Team chair Jody Allen indicated Seattle aims to have a new coach in place before major offseason events like the scouting combine get underway in late February/early March. Quinn makes the most sense if he wants to leave his comfortable situation in Dallas to take on a rebuilding project. He would bring defensive credentials and returning faces like Sherman or even Bobby Wagner could follow him back to Seattle. Harbaugh would similarly reconnect the franchise to the lone title-winning year while bringing offensive creativity.
Aside from the coaching search, GM John Schneider and his staff will be focused on making roster improvements to set up better success for 2023 and beyond. Whether it’s trading Russell Wilson to Denver or more recently trading away All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, Schneider has shown a willingness to make bold moves if needed and could look to wheel and deal again this offseason if assets like WR DK Metcalf or LB Jordyn Brooks draw significant interest. The team also owns the no. 5 overall pick in April’s draft, giving them equity to fill glaring holes either on both lines of scrimmage or at quarterback, should they decide Geno Smith’s fine season still didn’t convince he is a true franchise QB capable of bringing sustained success like Wilson once did.
It remains to be seen what direction Schneider and ownership want to go to build the roster back into a contender, and how receptive their new coach will be towards their planned approach. But with resources like ample cap space and high draft picks, Seattle has the flexibility to assemble ingredients for a quick turnaround, even within the beastly NFC West.
Carroll By The Numbers
Below is a table summarizing some of Pete Carroll’s accomplishments and ranking among Seahawks coaches over 14 seasons:
|Super Bowl Appearances
|Super Bowl Wins
Carroll also ranks highly among active NFL coaches over the past decade:
So while the Seahawks now charge ahead into a new era under new leadership, Carroll’s impact on the franchise and the Pacific Northwest won’t soon be forgotten and he exits with credentials that should warrant Hall of Fame consideration down the road. It remains to be seen what Carroll has in store for his next act, but one thing is for sure – this coaching icon doesn’t appear ready to permanently hang up the clipboard just yet. More chapters may still await in the ongoing coaching legacy of Pete Carroll.
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