Seattle’s interest in Antonio Brown offered an important reminder about the Seahawks: Never underestimate John Schneider and Pete Carroll's ultimate faith in “the program.”
Brown’s brief tenure with the Oakland Raiders was an absolute nightmare. The turbulent saga featured (but was not limited to) frostbitten feet, a few practice no-shows, a bizarre helmet grievance, a fine posted on social media and a YouTube video featuring a private call with Jon Gruden. Upon being released, Brown posted another video of him celebrating like he’d just been given parole from a life sentence.
“I’m free,” he exclaimed continuously.
And he was, for a few hours anyway. College football games last longer than Brown’s time as a free agent. He signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots.
While some teams were likely scared away by Brown’s antics in Oakland, clubs like the Patriots, who have an established culture and set of standards, assuredly were not. Brown provided a lottery ticket with Lombardi Trophy-level upside. Worst case scenario is it doesn’t work out, you cut Brown and you’re out a few million bucks – a drop in the bucket for Robert Kraft and other NFL owners.
This is precisely why Seattle also expressed interest in Brown’s services. Carroll confirmed as much on Monday. (Carroll also said they found out quickly that Brown was set on “going to New England,” which leads to a different question and conversation for a different day.)
None of this should surprise you. Seattle’s “always compete” mentality and supreme belief in “the program” allows the Seahawks to take chances on players like Brown.
“We’re involved in everything,” Carroll said. “We’ve been telling you that for a long time. We seriously mean we’re trying to know what’s going on with every opportunity to get better, and if we miss one of those (then) we messed up.”
Seattle’s philosophy is essentially this: If a player can potentially help the Seahawks win games, Carroll and Schneider are going to look into him. That holds true for players with red flags or a checkered past with another team.
It’s why Seattle kicked the tires on Terrell Owens and drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round in 2012. It’s why the Seahawks traded a first-round pick for Percy Harvin in 2013. It’s why they felt comfortable spending a second-round pick on Frank Clark in 2015.
Every player is given a clean slate when they turn onto 12 Seahawks Way in Renton, Wash.
So why on Earth wouldn’t Seattle inquire about a Hall of Fame-caliber receiver, regardless of his baggage? It would have gone against Carroll and Schneider’s DNA not to.
“He’s a great player, (let’s) see what’s going on,” Carroll said of Brown's situation in Oakland. “Not everything is always what it seems. You’ve got to check into stuff and figure out what’s going on. I have confidence in our guys and John and our coaches that we can figure those things out and see what’s best. I don’t mind getting real close to the edge of it and figuring it out.”
“Close to the edge” is a great way of putting it. Because if Brown wasn’t hellbent on joining the Patriots, it may have been the Seahawks who assumed the risk (and potential reward) by signing the embattled wide receiver.