Every year the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) selects an NFL Executive of the Year.
Last season, it was a guy from the New England Patriots. Sure.
Consider three primary categories that an NFL executive (like a General Manager!) might influence as part of this award: Trades, Draft, and Free Agency.
The Seattle Seahawks improved through the subtraction of Russell Wilson. This was an unfathomable sentence until the previous seven weeks have unfolded the way they have. The package and subsequent contract that the Denver Broncos enacted for Russell Wilson have been the equivalent of an atomic bomb within the organization, and they won’t recover for a long, long ride. Excuse me. Time.
Two firsts and two seconds, for the Grand Canyon-sized drop-off that Wilson has displayed in Denver is ridiculous in and of itself. I’m only 33 but can think of no more perfect trade at no more perfect time in any of the sports that I have followed in my life. It’s unbelievable.
But that’s not even the end of the story. Shelby Harris has been a net positive for the Seahawks roster, and a strong one. Noah Fant has been a positive for this roster; more on him later. Every game the Broncos lose gets John Schneider closer to a top-5 pick that he shouldn’t have but absolutely deserves.
Guess who’s back. Back again. Schneider’s Draft. Tell a friend.
There’s not much that needs to be added to the conversation of the potentially best draft that John Schneider has ever turned in. That’s quite a bar to clear considering 2-3 elite players per year in the early 2010’s. Yet the fact remains that Seattle is one of scarce few teams above .500 right now, starting six rookies - three on offense, three on defense. Two of them will have their names peppered into the Rookie of the Year conversation, regardless of whether Tariq Woolen or Kenneth Walker actually win.
There’s not a single miss from the class yet that anyone can tell, and the far greater likelihood is every one of those top six picks will have real NFL careers. Not a one of them is in danger of being a second or third-year cut.
Austin Blythe hasn’t graded out well in every game, but his leadership and cohesion he’s brought to a young offensive line has exactly what was needed this year. I do think he’s played well this season.
Uchenna Nwosu, however, has been the big star, and he’s here for another year beyond this season. Looking at the win over the Los Angeles Chargers, it’s reasonable to consider that Schneider signed their best defensive player from last year not named Joey Bosa. During the first two games of this season Nwosu was the only effective player besides Al Woods, and has continued to make plays now that the rest of the unit has turned it around as well. Many thought that Seattle failed to make a splash move along the line, but it turns out they actually did.
In all three areas, John Schneider hit a home run. Perhaps a solo shot in free agency, a massive multi-RBI moonshot in the draft, and the grandest, slamiest of Grand Slams with The Trade.
There’s one final component to Schneider’s offseason I really like, but won’t even be in consideration for something like an Exec of the Year award.
He trusted Pete Carroll and Shane Waldron big time. He presumably trusted Clint Hurtt as well, to a lesser degree.
Sticking with Geno Smith and not hitting the panic button on a quarterback? That comes from his and Pete’s experience and faith in Smith to lead the team, even if he has exceeded their own lofty expectations of him.
But the one that really stands out is how he handled the tight ends this year. They gave Will Dissly money that made more than a few people scratch their heads. They brought Noah Fant over as part of the trade, as well.
It’s seven weeks into the season and the Seahawks have already run 13 personnel - a three tight end set - 70 times. It’s their most dangerous and effective formation, and Schneider has assembled the perfectly balanced trio to do it. This should be a column on its own, but is a type of thing Schneider didn’t do in a vacuum. The offensive minds in the building would have influenced the roster assembly here, and Schneider listened.
An absolute pilfering of talent away from the rest of the league at every phase imaginable, and Schneider has this team in a most enjoyable position heading into the halfway point of the season.