NFL Nation: Breno Giacomini

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Breno Giacomini is the only New York Jet who got to hang out with President Barack Obama this week.

Giacomini
Giacomini spent Wednesday in Washington, D.C., with his former teammates from the Seattle Seahawks, as the reigning Super Bowl champions were honored at the White House.

“It was cool to go and see those other guys again for a little bit and tour a little bit of the White House,” Giacomini said Thursday. “And then meeting the President -- that was really the biggest highlight there.”

It was back to work on Thursday for Giacomini, the Jets’ new starting right tackle, who signed a four-year, $18 million contract ($7 million guaranteed) back in March. When Austin Howard jumped to the Oakland Raiders, the Jets moved very quickly to bring in Giacomini, who started 33 games for Seattle the past three years.

He missed seven regular-seasons games last season due to a knee injury, but returned for the Seahawks’ postseason run, capped off by winning Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium.

At that time, the thought of possibly playing for the Jets wasn’t on his mind. “I knew they had a really good right tackle here,” Giacomini said. “But once [Howard] made his decision, it opened up. I think it’s a good fit. We’ll find out.”

Jets general manager John Idzik was very familiar with Giacomini from his days in the Seattle front office. Giacomini said their relationship played a role in his decision, as did location -- he’s a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and wanted to be closer to his family.

He was looking for something else, too.

“The defense here is really good,” Giacomini said. “I wanted to go to a place with a good defense, ‘cause it starts with defense.”

The Jets’ D isn’t quite as good as the Seahawks', but it was ranked 11th in yards allowed last season (10 spots behind top-ranked Seattle). And Giacomini sees another link between the Jets and Seahawks, too.

“This locker room is fairly young,” the 28-year-old tackle said. “And you can tell because of all the energy in this locker room. Right away in the mornings, you can just tell -- nobody’s really moping around, it’s just energy in here. That’s another thing I found very similar.”

Now he’s hoping for similar results.

Jets offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
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With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the New York Jets' offseason moves:

Best move: The Jets doled out $7 million a year for Eric Decker, but he's an upgrade over the previous No. 1 receiver, Santonio Holmes, a diminished diva whose sour attitude won't be missed. Decker is a 6-foot-3 target whose catching radius will help Geno Smith, who struggled last season with his accuracy. No doubt Decker benefited from having the Broncos' Peyton Manning as his quarterback the past two seasons, but he's still a quality player who can help in a variety of ways. For instance: Decker had seven red zone touchdown catches last season, only one fewer than the Jets produced as a team.

[+] EnlargeDimitri Patterson
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeThe Jets hope Dimitri Patterson can fill the void created when Antonio Cromartie departed.
Riskiest move: They're counting on journeyman Dimitri Patterson, signed from the Dolphins, to replace Antonio Cromartie at cornerback -- a big gamble. Patterson, 31, has missed 33 of his past 48 games, so the Jets are taking quite a leap by thinking he will stay healthy. What's more, he's best suited for the slot, not one of the outside positions. General manager John Idzik mismanaged the cornerback market. Knowing the importance of corners in Rex Ryan's man-to-man system, Idzik should've made a stronger commitment to the position. He flirted with some big names but wound up with Patterson, who will be playing for his sixth team in 10 years. To exacerbate the issue, Idzik waited until the third round before drafting a corner.

Most surprising move: The Jets bill themselves as a young, ascending team, yet they allowed one of their ascending players to walk out the door -- right tackle Austin Howard, who signed with the Raiders. The Jets found him on the scrap heap, invested three years of development and watched him become an above-average player with upside. And then he was gone. Howard's replacement, Breno Giacomini, formerly of the Seahawks, is a comparable player -- and cheaper. Statistically, he's a better run-blocker than Howard but is not quite as adept in pass protection. Here's the big difference, though: Howard, 27, is two years younger than Giacomini, meaning he would've been a better fit in the long-term plan.

John the Deliberate: Overall, Idzik had a solid offseason, adding several new pieces on offense (let's not forget about running back Chris Johnson and quarterback Michael Vick) -- but the second-year GM didn't spend as much money as he could've. After dumping Holmes' and Mark Sanchez's contracts, the Jets were among the league leaders in cap space, but Idzik was relatively conservative in free agency, relying on a 12-player draft haul to upgrade the roster. Unlike some GMs, who overpay for second-rate talent, he refuses to deviate from his long-term plan. It's the right approach for a franchise previously obsessed with quick-fix moves, but it's not foolproof. The cornerback situation will come back to bite him.
Thoughts and observations on the New York Jets:

1. Penny pinchers: For those not happy with John Idzik's conservative approach to free agency... well, you may not want to read this. It will raise your ire to a new level.

[+] EnlargeIdzik
AP Photo/Bill KostrounJets GM John Idzik has a new style this offseason: less spending, more scouting.
Right now, the Jets have the lowest cash payroll in the NFL -- $86.1 million, according to overthecap.com. We're not talking cap dollars, we're talking actual cash spending for 2014. They're $50 million under than the top-spending team, the Baltimore Ravens. The paltry number makes the Jets seem like the New York Mets of the NFL.

In 14 months, Idzik has systematically dumped many of the highest salaries. Their once-top-heavy cap has thinned to the point where only three players have cap charges of at least $7 million -- D'Brickashaw Ferguson ($11.7 million), Nick Mangold ($7.2 million) and David Harris ($7 million). It's telling that the fourth- and fifth-highest cap numbers belong to players no longer on the roster -- Antonio Cromartie ($5.5 million) and Mark Sanchez ($4.8 million).

The Jets flirted with several big-name free agents (Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), but missed out, in part, because they failed to show them the money. (Pardon the Jerry Maguire-ism.) What conclusions can be drawn? Either the Jets are cheap or Idzik is budgeting for the future. It's probably more of the latter. Know this: Starting this year, teams are required to spend at least 89 percent of the cap in cash over a four-year period. It looks like the Jets will have some catching up to do in future years.

2. DeSean update: Unless they pull a 180, the Jets won't be a factor in the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes -- a smart move. He's not a fit for them. They held internal discussions on Jackson, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg giving his blessing. Mornhinweg, who coached him with the Philadelphia Eagles, told people in the organization that Jackson -- known for his bad-boy reputation -- wouldn't be a problem in the locker room. That apparently wasn't enough to sway Idzik, who reportedly hadn't reached out to Jackson's agent as of Saturday. Jackson is scheduled to visit Monday with the Washington Redskins. The Oakland Raiders might be interested as well.

3. On the road again: Idzik has popped up at a number of the high-profile pro days, most recently the Johnny Manziel extravaganza at Texas A&M. He's taking more scouting trips than he did last offseason, when he was new on the job and felt obligated to work from the office as he familiarized himself with the operation and the staff.

4. For Pete's sake: I caught up with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at the league meetings and asked for a scouting report on right tackle Breno Giacomini, who left the Super Bowl champions to sign with the Jets. Carroll: "Great competitor. Really fierce. A really smart player. Tough. Great finisher. Physical. He's legit. We hated losing Breno. We would've liked to (have kept him), but we couldn't do it. We had no intention of wanting to lose him, but he's one of the guys we had to transition out of the organization. He's worth it (for the Jets). He got paid well and he deserves it."

Translation: We liked him, but not at four years, $18 million.

5. Cro is for the birds: With All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson locking down one side of the field, Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians expects opponents to attack former Jet Antonio Cromartie -- and he's just fine with that.

"I love the fact that there's going to be a lot of balls thrown at him, because I didn't throw that many when I was playing against him," Arians said at the league meetings, expressing confidence in Cromartie's coverage ability.

He'll rue that statement if Cromartie doesn't cover better than he did last season.

6. Sleeper with speed: It was overshadowed by the Jackson news and the Sanchez signing, but the Jets picked up an interesting player Friday -- cornerback Jeremy Reeves. After a four-year career at Iowa State, where he intercepted five passes (two returned for touchdowns), Reeves was eligible for the 2013 draft. But he tore a pectoral muscle, missed his pro day, wasn't drafted and wasn't signed by anyone. After working out on his own for a year, he participated in Iowa State's pro day last week and burned the 40 in 4.29 seconds, according to school officials.

He's only 5-7, 167 pounds (picture Darren Sproles at corner), but that kind of speed -- even if not totally accurate -- turns heads. The Jets have a good feel for Reeves because Jeff Bauer, the director of college scouting, is an Iowa State alum, plugged into the Iowa scene.

7. Flying with the Eagles: Former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (it feels weird typing that) made a good point in his introductory news conference in Philadelphia: He believes he could thrive in Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense because of past success in the hurry-up. Sanchez was at his best in two-minute situations, when he didn't have to read the entire field and was required to make quick decisions. So maybe there's hope for him in Philly. On the other hand, his career record against NFC teams isn't sterling -- 10 touchdown passes, 21 interceptions.

8. Reality star: Eric Decker's reality show -- "Eric and Jessie: Game On" -- kicks off its second season Sunday night. (Jessie is his wife, a country-music singer, in case you didn't know.) I asked Rex Ryan if he's worried the show could become a distraction for his new wide receiver. He laughed, but his answer was no. Ryan said the show never came up in conversation with Decker prior to him signing.

9. More teams, wealthier coaches: Ryan is in favor of expanding the playoff field. "Absolutely," he said. "When you look at the fact that bonuses are probably tied into it, absolutely." He laughed, but he wasn't joking. In his new contract extension, Ryan can trigger incentive bonuses for 2016 with playoff wins.

10. Changing times: The Jets have 12 draft picks. In Ryan's first three seasons (2009 to 2011), with Mike Tannenbaum as the GM, they had a total of 13.
Many happenings around the New York Jets:

1. Waiting on DeSean: If the Jets want wide receiver DeSean Jackson, they have the resources to be a major player. They have the need, the cap space (more than $30 million) and the right recruiter (Michael Vick). The question is, do they have the desire?

[+] EnlargeDeSean Jackson
Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty ImagesDo the positives outweigh the negatives for a marriage between the Jets and receiver DeSean Jackson?
The sense I get from talking to league sources is the Jets have a measured interest in Jackson, which will intensify if he's released by the Philadelphia Eagles -- a distinct possibility if no one is willing to trade for his contract. He has three years, $30 million remaining on the deal. He reportedly is unwilling to renegotiate his deal, which makes a trade less likely. Jackson may not be motivated to re-work the deal because he knows it will force his release, allowing him to reunite with Vick. It's possible that Vick picked the Jets, knowing his former teammate wouldn't be far behind. Could this all be part of John Idzik's master plan?

Frankly, I think it would be out of character for Idzik. Jackson is a problem child, the ultimate risk-reward gambit. The mere fact Chip Kelly is holding a fire sale for his best receiver should tell you something about how badly he wants to rid himself of Jackson. This is Santonio Holmes revisited. The talent makes the player oh-so-tempting, but is he worth the aggravation? Even if Jackson's market dries up and he accepts a team-friendly deal, he'd be complaining next offseason about wanting a new contract. He's a headache waiting to happen, but the Jets appear willing to stock up on aspirin.

2. The Marty factor: Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg knows Jackson better than anyone in the Jets' building, having coached him in Philly, but I wonder about that relationship. In May, 2010, Jackson told the Sporting News, "Our offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, said some things, trying to question my toughness" -- a reference to a 2009 game in which he sat out with a head injury. "I was like, 'Coach, I just got a concussion. This (is) my brain. If it's something else -- my shoulder, whatever -- I'm going to play.'" Based on the quote, it doesn't sound like they're the best of buds.

By the way, Jackson suffered two concussions in 2009 and 2010, including a severe concussion that resulted in memory loss -- another factor the Jets should consider.

3. 3-21: So on the two-year anniversary of the Tim Tebow trade, Mark Sanchez gets cut, Greg McElroy announces his retirement and Vick joins the team. That has to be cosmos, right?

4. Polarizing player: Opinions on the Vick signing are sharply divided among fans and media, which isn't a surprise. I happen to think it's a good deal, but I spoke to one longtime front-office executive who believes Vick, 33, is washed up.

"The Jets already have a guy like him ," said the executive, referring to Geno Smith. "If you bring Vick in, you're not thinking. It makes no sense. He's a good kid. He's more mature, he's not a distraction and the players respect him, but he doesn't bring anything to the table anymore -- nothing. He can't win with his legs anymore, he has to win with his head. His arm is good enough, but unfortunately, the arm isn't connected to the head."

An AFC personnel scout said of the Vick-for-Sanchez move: "I don't know what to think, to be honest. You swap one out for the other. There's still no long-term solution."

5. Penalty pals, revisited: Based on their track records, the Willie Colon-Breno Giacomini tandem on the right side of the offensive line will produce a lot of penalty flags. Colon was penalized a team-high 12 times for 82 yards last season. Giacomini, playing for the Seattle Seahawks, was flagged six times for 39 yards -- in only nine games, mind you. (In addition, he had two holding calls in the postseason.) In 2011 and 2012, he combined for 21 penalties for 172 yards. Unless they change their ways, Colon and Giacomini will invite comparisons to the original Penalty Pals, Jeff Criswell and Dave Cadigan, circa 1993.

6. Keeping their own: Penalties notwithstanding, the Jets made a good move to re-sign Colon, who received a one-year, $2 million contract. Only $500,000 is guaranteed; he can also earn $1 million in base salary, plus another $500,000 in roster bonuses if he plays every game. They gave a similar deal to linebacker Calvin Pace, who can make $2.625 million in the first year of a two-year, $5 million contract.

All told, the Jets retained seven free agents for a combined total of only $5.255 million in guarantees -- Pace, Colon, Nick Folk, Jeff Cumberland, Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Leger Douzable. That's what you call bargain shopping.

7. John the Rigid: The biggest criticism of Idzik, according to some agents and league insiders, is that he shows little or no flexibility in negotiations. He assigns a monetary value to a player and refuses to adjust, they say. That style may help in certain situations, but there are times when you have to examine the big picture and ask yourself, "Do we really want to lose this player over X amount of money?" Idzik's conservative approach probably cost him cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who signed with the New York Giants. So now they have a gaping hole at the position. Barring a trade, or a veteran unexpectedly shaking free, the Jets will have to rely on the draft.

8. Bad things come in threes: In a span of 12 days, Idzik jettisoned three of the cornerstone players from the last playoff team, cutting Sanchez, Holmes and Antonio Cromartie. That's a stunning player dump, considering they're all 30 or under. The downside is the amount of "dead" money on the cap. The three players are counting $12.78 million, nearly 10 percent of the entire salary cap.

9. Small-school sleeper: Remember this name -- Terrence Fede. The former Marist defensive end is trying to become the first player in his school's history to be drafted. The 6-foot-3, 276 pounder was a stud pass rusher as the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., school, recording 30.5 career sacks. He has an impressive burst on the edge. He performed for scouts recently at the University of Buffalo pro day, clocking a 4.79 in the 40. All 32 teams were in attendance, including Jets scout Cole Hufnagel. Even if he's not drafted, Fede will be a priority free agent.

10. The Jets' new dogma: Everybody knows about Vick's sordid history with dog fighting, a crime that resulted in him spending nearly two years in a federal prison. Well, here's something interesting and ironic: One of his new receivers is a dog lover. Eric Decker has a foundation called "Decker's Dogs," which provides service dogs to returning military vets with disabilities. Decker and his wife, Jessica, raise money to help train rescued dogs. They believe rescued dogs have the same success rate as dogs bred for service.

Free-agency review: Jets

March, 18, 2014
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Decker
Most significant signing: Obviously, it's wide receiver Eric Decker (five years, $36.25 million), the biggest veteran acquisition of the John Idzik era. The Jets identified him as the No. 1 receiver on the market, and they made it happen. Decker becomes the top receiver on the team (did you see their receivers last season?), but he's not a true No. 1. His 2013 numbers (87 catches, 1,288 yards) were inflated because he played in the most prolific passing offense in history, with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Unless he's paired with a difference-maker on the other side, Decker won't approach those numbers with the Jets. He's a complementary player; he won't force opponents to alter their game plan.

Howard
Most significant loss: They had hoped to lock up right tackle Austin Howard before free agency, but talks stalled, he hit the market and signed immediately with the Oakland Raiders (five years, $30 million). Howard is the kind of guy you want in your program, a former bottom-of-the-roster player who worked his way into a starting role, demonstrating real potential. But Idzik, with a replacement already lined up, refused to budge on Howard's demands. That replacement turned out to be Breno Giacomini, formerly of the Seattle Seahawks. He's a proficient right tackle and they got him for $18 million over four years, saving money in the swap. But he's not better than Howard. At best, it's a wash.

Biggest surprise: After cutting high-priced vets Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes, giving them nearly $40 million in cap space, the Jets figured to be aggressive players in free agency. But it hasn't worked out that way, as Idzik has reinforced his reputation as a deliberate -- some might say stubborn -- shopper. He re-signed a few complementary starters, namely linebacker Calvin Pace, tight end Jeff Cumberland and kicker Nick Folk, but he hasn't addressed needs at cornerback, quarterback and receiver. Bargain hunting is fine, but you don't want to be too cautious. Clearly, Idzik is refusing to deviate from his long-term plan.

What's next? They have to find a replacement for Cromartie before the draft. It could be Cromartie, who wants to return. They may have no other choice because the current free-agent market for corners is thin, to say the least. Rex Ryan needs cornerback depth to play his defense, which is predicated on man-to-man coverage, and his general manager isn't making it easy on him. They also have needs at quarterback, wide receiver (yes, another one) and tight end, among other positions. At this point, there's not much left in free agency.
It didn't take long for right tackle Breno Giacomini to jump into the New York Jets-New England Patriots rivalry, which is bubbling this week because of Darrelle Revis.

Giacomini
Giacomini, who signed a free-agent contract Wednesday, grew up outside Boston and admitted Friday he grew up a Patriots fan -- a Drew Bledsoe fan, in particular. He was asked on a media conference call if there will be special emotions when he faces them twice in the upcoming season.

"It’ll defintely be fun after we win that game," he said. "I’ll tell my friends and family that are all Patriots fans to go kick some rocks after we win."

Giacomini signed a four-year, $18 million contract to replace Austin Howard, who bolted for the Oakland Raiders. Giacomini said his relationship with general manager John Idzik was one of the main reasons he signed. Giacomini came from the Seattle Seahawks, Idzik's previous team. Idzik was in charge of contracts for the Seahawks, and there was a lot of paperwork with Giacomini because he bounced up and down between the practice squad and the 53-man roster in 2010. That's how they got to know each other.

Some scouts say Giacomini is a better pass protector than Howard, but a notch below him as a run-blocker.

"I like to play pretty physical," Giacomini said. "I know that's the mentality they have there. I'm just going to try to play my role and get better every single play. I'm going to try to play with a little bit of nastiness I have in me. I'd play like an offensive lineman should play."
A few thoughts on the New York Jets did (correction: didn't do) on the first day of free agency:

1. Rough start: It wasn't a productive day for the Idziks. They lost right tackle Austin Howard to the Oakland Raiders, watched as the three highest-rated corners came off the board and began to hear the rumblings of a Darrelle Revis-to-the-New England Patriots scenario -- a potential nightmare. But, hey, they re-signed kicker Nick Folk to a long-term deal.

2. Patience: The lack of activity set off a near panic among fans who wanted general manager John Idzik to put in dent in that $39.6 million cap surplus. Relax, people. It was only the first day, when desperate teams throw ridiculous money at players not worthy of superstar paychecks. Championships aren't won in March. Jets fans should know that better than anyone.

3. Howard's end: The Jets liked Howard, they really did, but they liked him only to a certain point. Idzik didn't want to match the five-year, $30 million offer from the Raiders, and that was that. His fallback option appears to be former Seattle Seahawks right tackle Breno Giacomini, who was good enough to start for the Super Bowl champions.

4. They like Mike: It has been rumored for weeks, but now it can be confirmed: Yes, the Jets have interest in quarterback Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles), according to a league source. They also scheduled a visit with Josh McCown (Chicago Bears), who also has visits set up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (the favorite) and the Houston Texans. Vick reportedly is drawing interest from the Buffalo Bills and Raiders. The Jets would like to get it wrapped up quickly, but it sounds like Vick will take his time. Meanwhile, Mark Sanchez is twisting in the wind, waiting to learn his fate.

5. Dangerous corner: It's too soon to say the Jets are desperate at cornerback, but I bet Rex Ryan is feeling a bit uneasy about his current situation. The Jets expressed a strong interest in Vontae Davis, but he re-signed with the Indianapolis Colts for four years, $39 million. Alterraun Verner was on the Jets' radar, but he signed with the Buccaneers for four years, $25.5 million. The Denver Broncos took Aqib Talib away from the New England Patriots with a crazy contract -- six years, $57 million. The cornerback market isn't barren yet, but the Jets might want to get busy. Keep an eye on Captain Munnerlyn (Carolina Panthers) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Denver Broncos). And, of course, Antonio Cromartie is out there. Remember him?

6. 'Folk Hero' gets paid: Folk wore the franchise tag for only two weeks. On Tuesday, he signed a four-year, $12 million contract. The deal reportedly includes only $2.1 million in guarantees, about $1.4 million less than what he would've received if he had signed the $3.55 million franchise tender. Folk wanted a long-term deal for security, but in reality, it won't be hard to cut him if he has a bad year. Good deal for the Jets.

7. Quiet at receiver: Not much action for the free-agent wide receivers. Here's a name to watch: Miles Austin, who was released by the Dallas Cowboys. The receiver-needy Jets are expected to have interest. They're also showing interest in running back Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars) at "the right price," a source said. They're eyeing other backs as well.
Two of the New Orleans Saints' starting offensive linemen will become unrestricted free agents on Tuesday -- right tackle Zach Strief and center Brian De la Puente. It's still possible the Saints could re-sign one or both of them. But they're content to see how the market shapes up before making any decisions.

If Strief and De la Puente leave, the Saints have young backups who could compete for their roles with third-year right tackle Bryce Harris and second-year guard/center Tim Lelito. They could also add potential starters at either spot in the draft. But they would probably want to add some veteran options in free agency as insurance.

The most obvious candidate for that type of role would be former Saints center Jonathan Goodwin, who is now a free agent again after three years as a starter for the San Francisco 49ers. Goodwin, 35, would be a natural stopgap while the Saints develop a young future replacement.

There aren't many top-notch centers available in their primes right now. Most analysts rank either De la Puente or the Green Bay Packers' Evan Dietrich-Smith as the top available options. Maybe Dietrich-Smith is slightly better, but the Saints would probably prefer to keep the guy they know at that price range.

Among the cheaper options at center would be the Atlanta Falcons' Joe Hawley, who was decent when he stepped into a starting role last year.

There are many more options available at right tackle, where the Saints could attempt to upgrade or at least get younger if they want to move on from Strief. The Cincinnati Bengals' Anthony Collins (28) and the New York Jets' Austin Howard (27 later this month) both had their best seasons to date in 2014 after beginning their careers as backups. Seattle Seahawks starter Breno Giacomini is another strong option in that same range.

The Baltimore Ravens' Michael Oher, 28, is a big name and a big, powerful run-blocker. But he has been inconsistent as a pass-protector throughout his career.

Older options who might be considered on short-term deals include the Arizona Cardinals' Eric Winston and the Tennessee Titans' David Stewart.

ESPN NFL Insiders Matt Williamson and Adam Caplan both said they didn't see many options the Saints should aggressively pursue -- though they did both mention Giacomini.

"With the offensive line, I keep coming back to their guys already," Williamson said of Strief and de la Puente. "Anthony Collins, to me, is about the same player as Strief but can also play left tackle. Giacomini is a mauler, you can run behind him on early downs. Austin Howard came out of nowhere and has exceeded expectations. His arrow is up, but he probably won't ever be 'great.' "
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- People in Green Bay and fans of the Packers love to hate the Seattle Seahawks after the infamous Fail Mary play in the 2012 meeting between the two teams.

Yet there’s a segment of them who likely will be rooting for the Seahawks against the Denver Broncos on Sunday in Super Bowl XLVIII. They’re the ones who know John Schneider, the Seahawks’ 42-year-old general manager whose ties to this city and his old team run deep.

[+] EnlargeJohn Schneider
Elaine Thompson/AP PhotoSeattle's John Schneider has so many ties to the Packers that some wonder if the general manager will one day return to Green Bay.
Schneider grew up just a few miles from Lambeau Field in the neighboring town of De Pere, Wis., which is essentially an extension of the Green Bay city limits. He was a high school football standout as a running back at a private, catholic high school that no longer exists. And he began his NFL scouting career as an intern for the Packers under then-general manager Ron Wolf, who only hired Schneider because of his persistence.

While in college, Schneider wrote a letter to Wolf asking for an opportunity as a volunteer scout. Wolf replied with a rejection letter, so Schneider wrote him again. Another rejection letter followed, so Schneider wrote again.

Many years later, Schneider admitted, “I kind of stalked him a little bit.”

Finally, Wolf told Schneider he would get in touch with him after the 1992 draft, Wolf’s first in Green Bay. Yet Schneider heard nothing. Six weeks went by before a friend convinced Schneider to just call Wolf directly.

So he did.

That led to an internship in Wolf's scouting department for the summer of 1992 to jobs as a pro personnel assistant with the Packers (1993-96) to Kansas City Chiefs director of pro personnel (1997-99) to stints with the Seahawks (2000) and Washington Redskins (2001) as vice president of player personnel and then back to the Packers (2002-2009) as a one of the top personnel advisers.

Of all the participants in Super Bowl XLVIII, no one has stronger ties to Green Bay and the Packers than Schneider.

“Growing up there and having different people reach out to you, this week has been really neat to get text messages and emails from people back there,” Schneider said during a phone interview on Friday from the Seahawks’ Super Bowl headquarters in Jersey City, N.J. “It’s cool because it’s such a small community, but yet you have that strong football foundation.”

Schneider’s foundation is rooted in Wolf’s beliefs. Though he and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll have forged their own identity as one of the most aggressive and compatible coach-GM combinations in the league, Schneider still calls on what he learned from Wolf and current Packers general manager Ted Thompson, another Wolf protégé.

“I think there’s a lot of Ron in this just because of the philosophical foundation of how you approach acquisitions,” Schneider said. “So I think it’s huge.”

Together, Schneider and Carroll have formed an unusual approach to signing, drafting and trading for players. In their first season together, they made an astounding 284 player transactions. Schneider also hit on a quarterback, when he drafted Russell Wilson in the third round in 2012, something for which Carroll gives full credit to Schneider.

“John and I have joined together aggressively to compete at every single turn, at every opportunity whatever it may be, to see if there’s something in there for us,” Carroll said during one of his Super Bowl week news conferences. “He’s done a great job of having the competitive will to keep pushing and fighting and clawing and scratching to have the opportunity that has sent us down the read early on with the hundreds of guys that came through the program.”

Schneider’s parents still live in Green Bay. As do some of his best friends, including the one who convinced him to make that call to Wolf. All of them will be at MetLife Stadium for Sunday's game.

There are plenty of people who wonder whether Schneider will be the Packers' next general manager. Thompson turned 61 on Jan. 17 and some within the organization believe he may walk away after his contract expires following the 2015 season.

That’s not a topic Schneider is comfortable discussing.

Instead, he’d rather swap stories about his friends who remain back in his hometown and talk about players who have ties to the Packers. He has two of them on his roster, right tackle Breno Giacomini and punter Jon Ryan. He signed Giacomini off the Packers practice squad in 2010, but he inherited Ryan, who had signed with the Seahawks early in the 2008 season after the Packers cut him.

The person responsible for telling Ryan the Packers planned to release him? That was Schneider.

“This is kind of a funny story,” Schneider said. “Jon Ryan’s brother after the (NFC Championship) game the other night was like, 'Hey man, ‘I’m glad you’re doing well now, but I wanted to kick your butt because you cut my brother.'

“Both players, Breno and Jon, have obviously improved since leaving Green Bay.”

The same could be said for Schneider.

The only question is, will he ever come back?

The next big thing: Seahawks

January, 23, 2014
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RENTON, Wash. -- Obviously, the next big thing for the Seahawks is the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. Nothing else matters at the moment.

However, when the big game is over, the Seahawks have difficult contract decisions to make because they know a day of reckoning is coming when they will need to pay some star players big bucks in the near future.

It won't be this year, but soon for cornerback Richard Sherman and quarterback Russell Wilson. Sherman has one year left on a deal that counts only $690,000 against the salary cap next season. He will soon command a salary of well over $10 million a year.

Wilson will make only $662,000, next season, but after that, some big-time renegotiating is going to happen. And the day will come when the Seahawks will have to pay Wilson at least $20 million more per year than he's making now.

All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas also has only a year left on a deal that pays him $3.7 million in 2014.

So some maneuvering will be in order soon, and some players currently on the roster will have to move on because of salary-cap limits.

The immediate concerns are wide receiver. Golden Tate is a free agent who made only $880,000 this season. Doug Baldwin is a restricted free agent with a salary that counts only $560,000 against the cap. Can Seattle keep both of them and pay Percy Harvin's six-year, $67 million deal?

Maybe, but certainly not if receiver Sidney Rice stays. He has two years left on five-year, $41 million contract. It's unlikely he will return.

No doubt the Seahawks wish they had signed defensive lineman Michael Bennett to more than a one-year deal at $4.8 million. He won't be easy to keep after the sensational year he's had.

Seattle also must make a decision on starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, a free agent who counted $4.7 million against the cap this season.
Age: 43

Position: Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator

[+] EnlargeDarrell Bevell
Bob Donnan/USA TODAY SportsDarrell Bevell has been an assistant in smaller markets during his entire NFL coaching career.
Recent background: Bevell has served as the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator the past three seasons. His offense ranked 23rd in points per game in 2011 (28th in yards). But in the past two years they’re ninth and eighth, respectively, in points per game (and 17th both years in total yards).

Past stops: Bevell started his NFL coaching career as a Green Bay offensive assistant in 2000. Three years later he became their quarterbacks coach and three years after that Bevell was named Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. Quarterback Brett Favre posted a career-best 107.2 passer rating under Bevell in 2009, when the offense finished No. 2 in points per game (In his five years with Minnesota, they were 26th, 15th, 12th, second and 29th in points per game). Bevell was not retained when interim coach Leslie Frazier became the head coach for the 2011 season. He started four seasons at quarterback for the University of Wisconsin.

What I’ve heard about him: Seattle coach Pete Carroll expects Bevell to be a head coach in 2014. While the Seahawks’ offense has been inconsistent, what’s impressed many is that they’ve still been productive despite playing most of the season minus receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin and half the season without tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini. Bevell is considered matter-of-fact and not flashy, but open and honest. One ex-NFL general manager said he likes Bevell and thinks he’s a good coach, but said his personality is not that of a head coach.

Potential fit: Bevell has done excellent work in Seattle. They’re still playing with a young quarterback who was a third-round pick and they haven’t played much with their true starting lineup. Yes, Russell Wilson would have gone in the (late) first round had he been a couple inches taller. Still, he’s a young quarterback and Bevell and the Seahawks have done a good job winning with him (yes, with a great defense). It was Bevell who wanted Wilson to start right away over Matt Flynn, so he has some conviction and doesn’t appear afraid to make what was considered a gutsy move after they traded for Flynn. It's not like every team was raving about Wilson before the draft, either. I like that Bevell is younger. But I’d very much worry about his low-key personality in this organization. That’s not the sort owner Dan Snyder wants or needs; I think it would make it harder for Bevell to thrive in Washington. Also, several coaches from the past have talked about working in a big market; Bevell has been in Green Bay, Minnesota and Seattle. I'd worry about him being overwhelmed by the demands of the job in Washington, from maneuvering inside the organization -- knowing how to handle the owner is only part of it -- to dealing with outside pressures.

Suggested reading: A little bit on his offensive philosophy. Really, the first graph is the one that’s applicable. … A little bit more on his philosophy regarding audibles, from his Minnesota days. … A year ago, Bevell said, “We’re a running team.”… Too much verbiage? ... Vikings' loss was Seahawks' gain. ... An interesting look on his time in Minnesota.

Power Rankings: No. 2 Seattle Seahawks

November, 19, 2013
11/19/13
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A weekly examination of the Seahawks' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 1 | Last Week: 3 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Back-to-back convincing victories have enabled the Seahawks to move up each of the last two weeks in the Power Rankings, from fourth to third last week and third to second this week behind Denver.

Seattle is 10-1 heading to its bye week after winning the last two games by a combined score of 74-31, including the 41-20 victory over Minnesota on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

The Seahawks are in the unusual situation of heading into the last five games of the season almost fully healthy. Offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini returned Sunday after being out for two months, and receiver Percy Harvin got everyone's attention in his debut game as a Seahawk with a 58-yard kickoff return that gave fans a glimpse of his explosiveness.

The only major injury for Seattle right now is starting cornerback Brandon Browner with a severe groin pull. However, it looks as if Browner might be able to return for the playoffs, or possibly even the end of the regular season.

And the secondary may be the deepest area of the team. Walter Thurmond, who started for Browner on Sunday, had a 29-yard pick-six in the second half.

Upon Further Review: Seahawks Week 11

November, 18, 2013
11/18/13
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A review of four hot issues from the Seattle Seahawks' 41-20 victory against the Minnesota Vikings:

[+] EnlargePercy Harvin
AP Photo/John FroschauerSeattle is hoping that Percy Harvin will be able to produce during Saturday's playoff game.
Oh that offensive line: With all the starters back on the offensive line, the Seahawks looked like the offense that can make the big plays that matter. Russell Wilson was sacked only once (which he called a coverage sack) and wasn’t hit much. Returning tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini did have a little rust after the long layoff. Okung was flagged for holding on what would have been a 58-yard gain for Seattle on a deep pass to Percy Harvin that was an interference call. And Giacomini was beaten by Minnesota defensive end Brian Robison on the one sack. But overall, it was a strong effort and showed how good the line can be with all its starters in the game.

Percy's tumor talk: Harvin shocked everyone after the game when he said he had a tumor removed last year. No one knew for sure what he was talking about at first or how serious it was. But the Seahawks' public relations staff later learned that doctors found a tumor (apparently benign) on his appendix when Harvin had an appendectomy in late November in Minnesota, three weeks after he went on injured reserve with an ankle injury. That little oddity aside, Harvin showed his stuff in his Seahawks debut with a 58-yard kickoff return and an athletic 17-yard catch on his finger tips that kept a Seattle TD drive alive in the second quarter.

Wilson stays perfect at home: Wilson just can do no wrong at CenturyLink Field. He now is 13-0 at home in his NFL career, and those 13 consecutive home wins are a franchise record. Wilson was 13-of-18 for 230 yards with two TDs and a 151.4 quarterback rating. Both TD throws were eye-catching. The first was 19 yards to Doug Baldwin when Wilson lofted it over two defenders in a place where Baldwin was the only person who could catch it in the back corner of the end zone. The other TD toss was an improvising move when Wilson was scrambling in the middle of the field and let go a shovel pass to Marshawn Lynch at just the right moment for a 6-yard score. Wilson’s 13 completions went to eight different receivers, including four catches for tight end Zach Miller.

Hauschka is a kicking clinic: Seattle kicker Steve Hauschka is having a remarkable season. He was 2-for-2 on field goals Sunday, including a 50-yarder, and has made 24 of 25 attempts this season. His only miss was a blocked attempt at Indianapolis, which wasn’t his fault. Come playoff time with a game on the line, Hauschka could be the difference for the Seahawks.
RENTON, Wash. – Seattle Seahawks receiver Percy Harvin was a full participant in practice Thursday for the first time since his hip surgery in August, increasing the likelihood that he will play Sunday against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings.

Harvin
Harvin did not speak to reporters Thursday, but he is expected to talk Friday. If he plays Sunday, it would be his first appearance in an NFL game since Nov. 4, 2012, when, coincidentally, the Vikings played at Seattle.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said he doesn’t anticipate much of an adjustment period once Harvin joins the offense.

“I feel so comfortable with Percy,” Wilson said Thursday. “I threw a ton with him this offseason before the injury really popped up, so it was one of those things where we had a really good relationship before. I trust what he does.”

Wilson believes Harvin can make an immediate difference for the Seahawks.

"He’s in and out of his breaks really quickly,” Wilson said. “He’s just a great football player. You want to give him the ball as much as you can. On our offense, we have so many guys that we can use. You add Percy into the mix and he brings a whole other explosive mentality to our football team.”

Cornerback Richard Sherman returned to full participation Thursday after missing practice Wednesday with what was listed as a hip injury. Sherman said he really just needed a day to rest.

Offensive tackles Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini and center Max Unger also were full participants in practice, as was defensive tackle Red Bryant. Unger and Bryant missed last week's game with concussions. The Seahawks will need to make a roster move by Saturday to activate Okung.

Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel (hamstring) and cornerback Jeremy Lane (thigh) did not practice. Cornerback Brandon Browner has a groin injury and will not play Sunday, but the Seahawks have not said how long Browner will be out.
RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle center Max Unger and defensive linemen Red Bryant will not play Sunday at Atlanta, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed after practice Friday. Both suffered concussions against Tampa Bay last weekend.

Bryant
"We're going to take care of them this week and have them ready for next week," Carroll said. "We have some rotations we've been working on [in Bryant's absence] in practice, but the same guys will be playing for the most part."

Carroll said rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill also will not play because of a biceps injury.

Lemuel Jeanpierre will get his third start of the season for Unger, who missed two games earlier this season

"He's done really well," Carroll said of Jeanpierre. "Whenever he has played for us he's come through."

Receiver Percy Harvin will not be activated this weekend, but Carroll is pleased with his progress.

"Percy is the best he's been," Carroll said. "He had another good workout [Friday]. He's not ready to play this week, but will return to practice, hopefully, next week. All the signs are really encouraging. He feels good and he's not having any issues after he works out. We're hoping he'll be able to jump back into it next week."

Starting right tackle Breno Giacomini, who returned to practice this week, is officially listed as doubtful for Sunday; he will not start and isn't likely to play. Giacomini and left tackle Russell Okung could return against Minnesota next week.

"They practiced and were able to handle the work, so that's a really good sign," Carroll said. "Those guys are dying to play. We will go into next week to see if they can handle it [at practice] and get ready to play."

Fullback Derrick Coleman continued to rehab a hamstring injury and is out for Sunday. Backup safety Jeron Johnson is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.

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