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What was the deal between John Schneider and Ted Thompson?

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

While reading this week’s Enemy Reaction on the first round of the draft, specifically the part where Seahawks and Packers fans rejoice on the trade the two franchises made last Thursday, it occurred to me that this used to never happen. Not the trade part back of course, that’s a 365-day-a-year sport for John Schneider, but the part where he does it with his former franchise.

I’ve been tracking Schneider’s trade history since the beginning and one thing that I had known for a long time was that for whatever reason, he never traded with Green Bay, the organization for which he worked for four years in the beginning of his career, then another eight prior to being hired as Seattle’s GM in 2010. Despite the fact that everyone expected Schneider to be cozy with former boss Ted Thompson — a person so close and important to Schneider that he got choked up when talking about him last year after the Packers replaced him with Brian Gutekunst in January — the two GMs never made a trade. Not once.

The Seahawks had traded with just about every team in the NFL last I checked, but I am not sure I had checked in the last year. So I fired up the pro-football-reference machine and went to confirm that the two teams were on no-dealing terms for quite some time.

Not only was I right about how little activity there was between Seattle and Green Bay during the Thompson era (0 activity), but I was so wrong about this being the first trade between the two franchises in years. Obviously many of you have been reading this and screaming at me already: THEY JUST MADE A FIRST ROUND TRADE LAST YEAR.

And the Brett Hundley deal.

That’s right. After eight years of zero trades between Schneider and his former boss — not low-level practice squad candidates, not conditional seventh round picks, not bus fare — the Seahawks and Packers have already made three significant trades since last April:

  • Pick 18 and 248 for pick 27, 76, and 186
  • A 6th round pick for Hundley
  • Pick 21 for pick 30, 114, and 118

That’s heavy action between two GMs no matter who they are and often what was expected between Schneider and his former boss, but much like Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, it never came to pass. You have to wonder if this is just a power dynamic at play here the whole time. Here’s a theory.

Thompson would never want to lose a trade to his former protege and Schneider would never want to lose a trade. So I would expect that the Packers always overvalued anything they were selling to Seattle and Seattle’s not going to be in the business of losing trades no matter how badly they might want the thing that Green Bay has.

Conversely, Gutekunst worked as a scout for the Packers from 1998 to 2011. meaning he was basically always a few rungs down the ladder from Schneider. Given that this was a guy that Gutekunst saw in the building regularly and then saw him become a GM and win a Super Bowl for another organization, so I would imagine he admires him a ton, maybe as much as Schneider admires Thompson. But the same fear of Schneider losing a trade to his former scout might not be as much of a worry — because these are pretty sweet deals.

A sixth round pick is a low price to pay for anything, but getting a 25-year-old backup quarterback is perhaps even a better excuse to trade one. Hundley might not have done anything for the Seahawks, but an example of a sixth round quarterback is Brad Kaaya. If they wanted to spend a sixth round pick on a backup QB, Hundley is as good as many others.

I also think getting a third rounder last year to move down nine spots is good value — even if Rasheem Green doesn’t pan out, he was only brought in based on this move — and the trade up of the other two picks actually resulted in Seattle drafting Jacob Martin.

Finally, there was immediate speculation that the Seahawks netted Green Bay’s third round pick this year by moving down (75th overall) but instead it turned out to be two fourth rounders. By grabbing those extra picks, Seattle was able to trade down at 114 and obtain an extra sixth used on Travis Homer, then used pick 118 as ammunition to move up for DK Metcalf at the end of round two. I mean, that’s just scribbling out some notes on what makes John Schneider a genius, but whatever.

The point is that the Packers now seem to have a GM whom Schneider can work with. For whatever reason, that wasn’t the case for eight full years when he was still dealing with his old mentor. Now that the mentor is out of the picture, the Seahawks and Packers have exchanged first round picks in back-to-back years.

The doors are open and who knows how many more times players and picks will pass between the beltway.