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Seattle Seahawks

Mailbag: What will Pete Carroll’s ‘advisor’ role with Seahawks look like?

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll before the start of the NFC Wild Card game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, in Santa Clara, California.  (Jennifer Buchanan/Seattle Times)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – A few recent Seahawks stories inspired a couple of questions from readers via email.

Specifically, what has Pete Carroll’s role as advisor turned out to mean? And is the onside kick dead?

So, let’s answer those in our latest Seahawks mailbag.

Pete Carroll’s role with the team

Now that the Seahawks are through the offseason and a new regular season is just six weeks away (veterans will report July 23), a few readers wondered what Carroll is doing with the organization.

Recall that when the Seahawks announced a coaching change on Jan. 10 they also announced that Carroll would now “move to a role as an advisor.”

What exactly that meant, though, was never specifically stated.

Carroll, when asked that day what he thought the role would entail, responded: “We’re going to figure that out. We don’t really know right now. But I’m grateful for the intention that the organization has to try to find something that makes sense. So we’ll see. I don’t know.”

General manager/president of football operations John Schneider was asked a week later if there was any more clarity to Carroll’s potential role and said: “No, there’s not. I think it’s something that we will just keep researching in the future and discussing and seeing how this goes. I feel like (team chair) Jody (Allen) and Pete got to a great spot and the organization is very healthy and ready to move forward.”

There has been no additional clarity since then, leading to the idea that making Carroll an advisor was largely ceremonial, and also due in part to him still being under contract through 2024.

Coaches’ contracts do not typically become public or confirmed by the team, but reported Carroll was making $15 million a year.

Carroll has been said to have been in and out of the VMAC a few times over the past few months and receiver DK Metcalf said last week that “I’ve had conversations” with Carroll since his dismissal. “He’s doing good,” Metcalf said. Carroll has surely kept in similar contact with others in the organization.

But there isn’t any evidence he’s had any real substantial say in anything football-related. And for what it’s worth, Carroll isn’t listed among employees in management or otherwise on the team’s website.

But none of that should really be a surprise.

It’s not often that dismissed coaches hang around and tell the new coach how to do things.

In what may be somewhat more of a surprise, Carroll has also been publicly silent since the week of his dismissal, when he not only gave a lengthy in-person news conference at the VMAC but at least two other radio interviews.

Carroll has appeared to give just one interview since then – to a reporter for earlier this month to talk about Dave Canales, a former assistant with the Seahawks and also for Carroll at USC who is now the new head coach of the Carolina Panthers. Among the assistants on Canales’ staff is Carroll’s son, Nate, who is now the passing game coordinator for the Panthers.

That stands in contrast to former Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who suddenly seems to be everywhere, serving as a guest analyst during the draft on the Pat McAfee Show, reported to have lined up a recurring spot on the Manningcast for this season and also reportedly is writing a book as well as exploring potentially having his own podcast.

If Belichick might have been a several-thousand word underdog against Carroll during their coaching careers – to crib the famous line of legendary UW coach Don James about his WSU counterpart, Jim Walden – he appears to be making up for it now.

So what is Carroll doing?

Likely spending time with his family and hanging out in the three places in which he was long known to have residences – in the Seattle area, Hawaii and Southern California.

Carroll’s other coaching son, Brennan, was named the offensive coordinator at the University of Washington by new head coach Jedd Fisch, and Pete Carroll was shown in a video by the school speaking to the team after one spring practice in April.

And simply paying close attention to UW and Carolina games could keep Carroll pretty busy this season if he wants.

In his news conference Jan. 10, Carroll didn’t rule out coaching again. But that obviously hasn’t happened yet, and other than a report that he made “a last-minute bid” to get interest from the Chargers before they hired Jim Harbaugh, there have been no indications of anything afoot on that front.

That Carroll turns 73 in September is a factor – he was already one of just seven people 70 or older to be a head coach in the NFL.

“I’m open to everything, but I’m not holding my breath on that,” Carroll said the week of his dismissal about coaching again during an interview with Seattle Sports 710.

So what would Carroll tell new coach Mike Macdonald if he were to advise him?

Recall again that Carroll was asked on Jan. 10 what advice he’d give a new coach.

“To me, the essence of being as good as you can be is you have to figure out who you are, and (try) and get clear about what’s important to you, what uncompromising principles do you stand by, what makes you who you are, so that if you don’t go through that process, you don’t do that self-discovery, you don’t have an opportunity to be your best because you don’t know who you are yet,” he said. “… you have to understand what kind of coach you are, what kind of person you are, what kind of dad you are, all the way down the line, to maximize your authenticity to be connected to the true essence of who you are. That’s what’s crucial. Without that you’re going to be sometimes. That’s why it’s hard to be consistently successful, because people don’t even know how they got there a lot of times. It just happens along the way. Circumstances come together. That’s to me the essence of it. That’s how I understand it.”

Is the onside kick dead?

A few readers asked that question following a story earlier this month detailing the NFL’s new kickoff rules, which are based on a scheme similar to that used in the XFL and designed to increase returns.

The answer is: sort of, but not entirely.

Onside kicks are not possible under the new format, with the kicker kicking off at his 35 but the kickoff cover team lined up at the opposing 40 and the return team lined up between the 30 and 35.

But included in the new rules is a provision in which a team trailing in the fourth quarter has the opportunity to declare an onside kick to the officials.

The teams would then line up under the rules that existed before this year and an attempt made. Teams can do that twice in the fourth quarter.

That the new rules kill the chance of a surprise onside kick was one of the major sticking points before the format was approved for on a one-year trial basis.

The NFL, in proposing the new format, noted that recent refinements to kickoffs for safety reasons have all but eliminated successful onside kicks so they didn’t feel as if it’s a great loss – just two of 41 attempts last season were successful.

Of those 41, only two of those were “surprise” onside kicks, in which the returning team didn’t know an onside kick was coming.