Interviews with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider from the NFL owners meetings last week revealed plenty about the team's free-agent additions -- why those players had appeal, how they'll be used, etc.
One interview in particular also revealed something about Carroll that many don't know: He plays the piano, and he's not bad.
Carroll spotted one outside the media room of The Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, Florida, and played it for a few seconds (you can listen here). That provided the intro for a conversation with John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle.
In keeping with the musical theme, Carroll said the "tone" of the Seahawks' recent signings is "right on point."
"This is a big year for us, as it is every year," he said. "[Every year] is filled with challenges in so many different ways -- challenges, personnel challenges, coaching challenges. It always seems like that. Maybe a little bit more this year than others, but this is what I'm hoping is going to generate a great return from this offseason of energy and juice and the kind of mentality that we need to play great football again."
The Seahawks have been active in free agency, albeit without any splash additions. They've began to replace what they've lost largely with veteran stopgaps on inexpensive, short-term deals. Of the players Seattle signed in free agency, only tight end Ed Dickson got a deal for longer than two years and more than $3.5 million on average.
Here's what we learned from Carroll and Schneider about Seattle's most notable free-agent additions:
OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo
Contract details: two years, $6.8 million
Schneider told 710 ESPN Seattle in a separate interview that Mingo was "pretty much" the Seahawks' top priority among outside free agents. As suspected, the plan is for Mingo to play strongside linebacker alongside Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright when Seattle is in its base defense, then move to end on passing downs -- a la Bruce Irvin from 2013-15. Schneider said Mingo will have more opportunities to rush the passer than he did with his previous teams.
Contract details: one year, $2.1 million for each
Schneider described Johnson, 34, as an infectious leader and a player whose motor never stops. He started 15 games and played nearly 70 percent of the Vikings' defensive snaps, but expect him to have a reduced role in Seattle as a rotational pass-rusher. From the sounds of it, Stephen -- who also came from Minnesota -- is in line to replace Sheldon Richardson as the starter at the 3-technique spot alongside nose tackle Jarran Reed. "Shamar is going to be that guy that we've had over the years that's really been a factor to solidify the running game," Carroll said. Schneider said Stephen is working his way back from a meniscus injury and added that that probably helped the Seahawks land him.
OL D.J. Fluker
Contract details: one year, $1.5 million
Carroll confirmed Fluker will play right guard, another sign that Germain Ifedi will remain at right tackle. Schneider described Fluker as "all football" and noted the importance of his experience with new offensive line coach Mike Solari, who coached Fluker last season with the Giants. "When you have somebody that's coached that player, you have that much more insight obviously on the guy," Schneider said. "So for us, with our previous group, he wasn't necessarily a scheme fit. Now he is. This guy's a very high draft pick and we're excited to get his mentality in that room with that whole group."
WR Jaron Brown
Contract details: two years, $5.5 million
Adding a big receiver seemed to be something of a priority for the Seahawks based on their interest in Jordy Nelson and Terrrelle Pryor along with Brown, who's listed at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. Carroll noted his size a few times and mentioned Sidney Rice as a familiar comparison in terms of a bigger receiver with speed.
"Because he's bigger than the guys we have, he will fit in as a blocker, he'll be able to do a lot of the stuff over the middle and inside that you love to see a guy do," Carroll said. "He's got a great toughness about him, he makes the tough catches in traffic, but he's also a [special teams] guy. So he's got that mentality. As you guys get to know him, you're going to see that he's got a real grit about him that we like. He fits just perfectly with the makeup of your guys."
TE Ed Dickson
Contract details: three years, $10.7 million
Schneider said the Seahawks viewed Dickson as the best blocking tight end available in free agency. Said Carroll: "Ed is a good all-around blocker but he's a downfield catcher as well. He's a really good athlete. We've know him since he was a high school kid. Really fired up to get him to fit in. He's kind of been overshadowed with [Greg] Olsen there at the Panthers, but he's always been a productive football player and a really good all-around ballplayer."
Adding as many free agents as the Seahawks have could keep them from ending up with as many 2019 compensatory picks as they had hoped. Schneider lamented that reality but noted that putting together a competitive team for 2018 takes precedence.
"We talk about being a championship-caliber football team every year and not being one of those teams that takes those huge dips, so we want to be able to be competing every single year and we're doing that at every avenue we possibly can," he said. "It just so happens that these guys happen to be unrestricted free agents. We've been involved with other guys that were cut and don't count towards compensatory picks, but we're not just going to pass on guys and sit on our hands. We want our fans knowing that we're busting our tail at every avenue."