Can Lions Really Lure John Schneider Away From Seahawks?

Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the NFL’s regular season is synonymous with organizational changes. Coaches and/or general managers that were fired in-season need to be replaced, and new (often predicted) openings, occurring from the dreaded Black Monday, create a personnel carousel that doesn’t stop spinning until every last position is filled.

There are front runners for each, and usually, these sought-after coordinators, coaches, or executives have left us breadcrumbs signaling their time at their respective organizations will soon come to an end. Sometimes, well, every time, there’s a surprise hire—or even just a shocking rumor that can bring one organization to an abrupt halt while another pulls off a blockbuster move.

The Detroit Lions will have to work twice as hard as some of the other teams around the league, filling the open general manager and head coach positions after simultaneously firing former general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia in late November. Among the list of GM candidates is, according to NFL media reports, former Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, current Pittsburgh Steelers GM Kevin Colbert, and, most shockingly, Seattle Seahawks’ GM John Schneider. While it’s unlikely Colbert will leave Pittsburgh, on the surface, it’s more unlikely Schneider would ever leave Seattle. 

After the rumor first surfaced, via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Schneider hit the airwaves to assure 12’s everywhere that things were “good.” If Schenider is engaging in conversations with the Lions or just the thought of leaving the Seahawks organization after a decade-plus, there’s one big incentive Detroit can dangle in front of Schneider. But, before we get there, it’s important to note one thing for added context: Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have been all but connected at the hip. The two have been in lockstep throughout their tenures. 

When Carroll penned an extension following his initial five-year contract in Seattle, Schneider did as well. The only difference is that Carroll’s was for two years and Schneider’s locked him in through the 2021 season. Now, with one year left on his contract, and Carroll recently agreeing to another extension through the 2025 season, Schneider could, at the very least, entertain the idea. The biggest thing another team could give him is, honestly, more money, but it’s not that simple. At the root of Schneider’s contract, first detailed in NFL Network’s report and later explained by ProFootballTalk, is whether he has “primary authority” or “final authority.”

As PFT states:

“The article uses the phrase ‘primary authority,’ but quite possibly confuses that term with ‘final authority.’ Schneider is the General Manager; even if Carroll can overrule Schneider via ‘final authority,’ Schneider most likely possesses the ‘primary authority.’ (The fact that the Anti-Tampering Policy uses both ‘final authority’ and ‘primary authority’ means that there’s a tangible difference between the terms.)”

The semantics issues create growing confusion around what any team, other than the Seahawks, can offer Schneider to ultimately lure him away from a wildly successful tenor. “The Seahawks Way'' is really understood by only Schneider and Carroll. In their time together, they’ve put together a 111-63-1 record and season-changing acquisitions, most notable in this year’s defensive unit, which was abysmal—literally the worst in the league—until playmakers like do-it-all safety Jamal Adams and defensive end Carlos Dunlap joined the organization and created a fearsome pass rush and, in the second half of the season, an emerging defense. The two executives’ keen eye for hidden draft talent makes (most of) their decisions equally maddening and impressive.

The Lions could be too quick to remove Schneider from the Pacific Northwest. PFT also reported that Schneider is “believed to be prepared to become a free agent in 2022 if he doesn’t get a market-value deal from the Seahawks.” 

If anything, this rumor can push Seattle to extend Schneider with an appropriate value. Schneider leaving town would send shock waves through the NFL, and while this rumor—labeled a blockbuster for that exact reason—can be easily squashed with the Seahawks potentially declining permission to the Lions to talk to Schneider, it’s a nice reminder that what always was, might not be what is for much longer.

Written By:

Alexis Mansanarez

Associate Editor and Feature Writer

Editor, Feature Writer for The Draft Network. University of Washington alum. Big believer in the Pac-12.