Seahawks hoping for less drama this offseason than last

RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll downplayed it publicly for much of the season, but with the Seattle Seahawks' season over, he was able to come clean Monday.

Last year's loss in the Super Bowl and the issues that followed had a direct impact on what ultimately turned out to be a disappointing 2015 campaign.

"I was trying not to bring it to light any more than I had to because I was working with it the whole time," Carroll said. "This was no surprise. I continued to remind you guys that it's the same kind of bulk issue that you have to deal with when you win, too. You still have problems and concerns that serve as distractions that you have to push aside. We've been through it. We've really seen what that's all about, and we've learned from it and our players know. They know what we went through and all.

"We were actively working to clear our minds and to clear our focus and to get right. It just took a while. It took a while to work our way through it. And as we'd said, it's down to individual guys have to make it through it, and the coaches have to make it through it, and we have to put it behind us. Otherwise you’re distracted, and your performance comes out less than everything that you have. That's why you have games like that, because you saw us turn it, and you saw how well we played for such a long time, and you can see the potential of this team. The exciting part of that is that our team knows that, and they saw that. So that's why we're moving ahead from a very good starting point beginning today."

The Seahawks lost the Super Bowl in the most devastating way possible. During an interview in Turkey, Marshawn Lynch questioned whether they went away from him on the final offensive play to prevent him from winning MVP.

They then had to deal with Russell Wilson's contract situation. Strong safety Kam Chancellor held out through the first two games. Defensive end Michael Bennett considered doing the same.

In other words, there was a lot going on. The Seahawks were unable to get themselves right, starting the season with four losses in their first six games.

"To me, it's pretty obvious the season as it came off," Carroll said. "Really talking about and comparing this [loss to the Panthers] and the season is kind of fitting, you know, that we struggled early, and we were really coming out of the last season. It didn’t go away just automatically, just like the year before didn't either. By the time we got righted, we had taken our lumps, and we'd put ourselves in a position in our division ... a very difficult setting because Arizona had started so fast. So we were trying to catch up the whole time. It was very much like yesterday. We were catching up the whole season."

Every offseason brings challenges, but Carroll fully expects the upcoming one to be different. He compared it to the offseason that followed the 2012 season. The Seahawks battled back from a 20-0 halftime deficit in the divisional round against the Atlanta Falcons that year but ultimately fell 30-28. The next year, they reached the Super Bowl and beat the Denver Broncos.

The Seahawks have seven starters -- wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, left tackle Russell Okung, right guard J.R. Sweezy, defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, linebacker Bruce Irvin and cornerback Jeremy Lane -- who are unrestricted free agents. They'll have to decide who to keep and who to let go.

Lynch might have played his final game as a Seahawk. Tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Thomas Rawls have to come back from injuries. Chancellor and Bennett will have to decide how they feel about their contracts this time around. Carroll doesn't see those issues as abnormal, though.

"It’s not the same. It will be a different season," he said. "They’re all different. There are similarities, but this one will be different. We’ll watch how the offseason goes, and I’ll be totally on point watching what is going to occur as we go through it. But I don’t foresee anything near the effect coming off this season, other than I go back to Atlanta. It feels more like that season. We were very disappointed about the outcome but yet knowing we have a chance to be really good. That’s really valuable going into the offseason, as well as being healthy is a great asset."