GREEN BAY — If hiring Russ Ball as their next general manager isn’t the foregone conclusion some in the NFL seem to think it is, would the Green Bay Packers explore the possibility of bringing Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider back to Titletown?
So far, according to one league source, team president/CEO Mark Murphy has not reached out to the Seahawks about getting permission to interview Schneider.
But with the Packers having reportedly sought permission to interview Minnesota Vikings assistant GM George Paton and Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie — and been turned down or blocked in both cases — Murphy could turn his attention to Schneider, a Super Bowl-winning GM who was born in Green Bay and grew up in suburban De Pere.
Schneider, 46, left the Packers in January 2010 to become the GM in Seattle, where he shares power with head coach Pete Carroll. Although his initial contract with the Seahawks contained an out clause that would have allowed him to depart for the Packers’ GM job if it ever came open, his current contract, which he signed in 2016 and runs through 2021, does not contain such a provision. Thus, Schneider cannot pursue the Packers’ opening.
However, the Packers could certainly contact the Seahawks, who are owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, to inquire about Schneider’s availability. Because Schneider and Carroll share power over the roster — one league source said that while Schneider has final say over the team’s 90-man offseason roster, Carroll has the final say over the 53-man in-season roster — the Packers also could also argue their position would be a promotion over Schneider’s current job.
Both the Packers and Seahawks, who met in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, missed the playoffs this season. The Packers had their eight-year streak of postseason appearances snapped, while the Seahawks missed the playoffs for just the second time during Schneider’s eight-year tenure.
Since Schneider and Carroll took over in Seattle, the Seahawks have made six playoff appearances, won Super Bowl XLVIII after the 2013 season and lost Super Bowl XLIX after beating the Packers in that 2014 NFC title game.
Carroll, 66, dismissed talk earlier this week that he was contemplating retirement.
“I ain’t going nowhere,” Carroll told reporters in Washington. Asked if he thought Schneider would remain with the Seahawks, Carroll replied, “I think he’s going to be here, yeah. That’s what I’m counting on.”
Even if he weren’t a Green Bay-area native, Schneider would be an attractive candidate because of his resume of success, his familiarity with the Packers organization and his experience working for the team’s two most successful GMs — Pro Football Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf, and Ted Thompson, who will transition to the role of senior advisor to football operations when a new general manager is hired. Wolf was the Packers GM from 1991 through 2001, and Thompson just finished his 13th season as the Packers’ GM.
Schneider got his start in scouting by pestering Wolf until he landed a scouting internship with the Packers in the summer of 1992. He then spent four years as a pro personnel assistant with the Packers (1993-96), a run that included the 1996 Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI title.
Schneider left Green Bay to become the Kansas City Chiefs’ director of pro personnel in 1997, spending three years with the Chiefs before joining Seattle’s front office in 2000, where he was reunited with Thompson and ex-Packers head coach Mike Holmgren.
Schneider then spent the 2001 season as the Washington Redskins’ vice president of player personnel before returning to Green Bay to serve as one of then-head coach/GM Mike Sherman’s top personnel advisers in 2002. Schneider remained with the Packers after Thompson replaced Sherman as GM, and Thompson then promoted Schneider to director of football operations in 2008, which set the stage for his opportunity in Seattle.
Two league sources confirmed Murphy began interviewing the team’s three in-house candidates — director of football operations Eliot Wolf, director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst, and vice president of football administration Ball — this week. The NFL Network reported Wolf interviewed on Thursday and Gutekunst interviewed Friday, with Ball apparently up next.
While multiple reports have pegged Ball as the favorite for the job, one league source said Friday afternoon that Ball “isn’t the slam-dunk some people seem to think he is.”
ESPN reported Friday the Packers asked the Vikings for permission to interview Paton and were denied. The Vikings are the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and because their season is ongoing, they are able to deny such interview requests. The Packers did the same thing with Eliot Wolf two years ago when the Detroit Lions asked to interview him while the Packers were still playing.
Meanwhile, ESPN also reported McKenzie, 54, turned down a request from the Packers. Like Schneider, McKenzie worked under both Ron Wolf and Thompson during his time in Green Bay, which began in 1994 as a scout. McKenzie was a director of football operations under Thompson when the Raiders hired him as GM in January 2012.
ESPN reported Raiders owner Mark Davis took the Packers’ request to McKenzie and that McKenzie turned down the opportunity to interview. McKenzie must have received assurances from Davis that he’ll still be a significant part of the Raiders’ decision-making power structure, despite multiple reports that the team will hire ESPN Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden and give him a 10-year, $100 million contract. Gruden coached the Raiders (1998-2001) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2001-2008) before joining ESPN in 2008.
Interestingly, when Gruden left the Raiders to join the Bucs in 2001, Tampa Bay had to give up two first-round draft picks, two second-round draft picks and $8 million in cash to get Gruden, who was still under contract to the Raiders at the time. Gruden led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl XXXVIII in his first year in Tampa Bay, beating his former team for the title.
Whether McKenzie’s decision to pass on an interview opens the door for Schneider — and whether Schneider would want to come back to Green Bay if the Packers did pursue him — is unclear.
But the Packers are apparently moving forward with requests to interview external candidates. In addition to their requests for Paton and McKenzie, ProFootballTalk.com reported that the Packers want to interview Baltimore Ravens assistant GM Eric DeCosta as well.
Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions denied permission for the Packers to interview Teryl Austin about their defensive coordinator position, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Detroit Lions have denied permission for the Green Bay Packers to interview Teryl Austin about their defensive coordinator position, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The Associated Press reported that the Cincinnati Bengals have been allowed to interview Austin for a defensive coordinator job.
Austin is currently Detroit's defensive coordinator, but his future is in doubt after the Lions fired coach Jim Caldwell.
Austin and Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter have both interviewed for the Detroit job, along with Houston Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel, Green Bay linebackers coach Winston Moss, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.