RENTON — For the first time in his 20 years as a personnel man, Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider does not have a pick in the first round of the NFL draft.
But Schneider, who talked with reporters for 45 minutes in a predraft press conference Wednesday, won’t be twiddling his thumbs come the opening of the draft next week.
The Seahawks traded away this year’s first-round selection as part of a deal with Minnesota for receiver Percy Harvin, so the team’s first pick isn’t until the second round – No. 56 overall. Seattle has 10 total selections.
“We want to really see how this thing’s going to come off,” Schneider said, “because I think you’re going to see a certain run on players, and then that will help us figure out kind of what’s going to
happen in the second round.
“No. 56 is a very hard place to try and figure out what’s going to be there. But I think we’re getting closer.”
Seattle filled some of the team’s most glaring needs in free agency, trading for Harvin and signing pass rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, along with run-stuffing defensive tackle Tony McDaniel and backup quarterback Brady Quinn.
Schneider acknowledged his team’s success in free agency will affect Seattle’s approach to the draft.
“I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t,” Schneider said. “We build our board off of our team. We don’t build it for the league. So it’s impacted based on the depth at each position, and then how we think people can compete at certain positions with the guys that are currently on our roster, or guys that we project may not be on our roster in 2014.”
Schneider also announced that the Seahawks finalized the deal with defensive back Antoine Winfield, a reported one-year agreement worth $3 million.
Finishing the deal was delayed because Winfield had a death in the family – his wife’s grandfather died, and the family needed time to attend the funeral.
“He’s here,” Schneider said about Winfield. “What went into it was, quite frankly, his agent was very aggressive in reaching out to us and expressing Antoine’s interest in playing with this defensive backfield, and our defense.”
Schneider said Winfield had a great conversation with coach Pete Carroll about the team’s overall philosophy – how it handles competition. From there, Winfield and his wife, Erniece, flew out to tour Seattle and the Seahawks’ facility, before returning to Minnesota to make the tough decision on whether to stay with the Vikings or move on to Seattle.
“He had a lot of angst for I’d say probably four or five days,” Schneider said. “And we stayed after it just from our side from a recruiting standpoint.”
Winfield is expected to serve as the team’s nickel cornerback, replacing Marcus Trufant – a 32-year-old Tacoma native who remains a free agent. Even though Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are Seattle’s starting cornerbacks, Schneider said the team considers Winfield a starter because he’ll play between 50 to 70 percent of the snaps this season.
Schneider said that while Winfield does not fit Seattle’s size requirements for cornerback at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, the 35-year-old Ohio State product makes up for his lack of size in other ways.
“He’s always been a player that’s compensated for that deficiency with his intensity, his instincts and his tackling skills,” Schneider said. “He had a very nice season last year. You could see him playing inside against bigger guys like Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson, and disrupting them.”
Quinn, 28, signed a one-year deal worth $780,000 to back up Russell Wilson. Schneider said the team chose the 2007 first-round pick over Matt Leinart, Seneca Wallace and Tyler Thigpen because of his enthusiasm and work ethic.
“Brady’s all football, all the time,” Schneider said. “He’s a junkie. He can’t get enough. So we thought he’d be a real cool fit with Russell.
“He’s also a guy that in our opinion has put a lot of pressure on himself, and people have put undo pressure on him – much like when Jake (Locker) came out. ... We just wanted to get him into a situation where we just talked about fun, and making football fun.”
LINE UP FOR BLUE PRIDE
The Seahawks announced a new program that will provide priority to fans interested in buying season tickets. Fans who make a $100 deposit will become members of Blue Pride, which guarantees a spot in line to purchase season tickets when they become available. Blue Pride will be capped at 12,000 fans. As of Wednesday the team has renewed season tickets at 98 percent, the highest in franchise history. Blue Pride members will be assigned a number based on the date and time they submit their $100 deposit. The deposit will eventually apply to their season tickets. Once membership hits 12,000, Blue Pride will be closed until the next offseason. For more information visit seahawks.com/tickets.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 eric.williams@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks