Pete Carroll leaving the Seattle Seahawks would have seemed irrational at the start of the season, but the team’s play in 2021 has some wondering if the legendary coach could head back to college for one final run. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell pondered whether the recent opening at USC could have Carroll’s attention if things continue to go south for the Seahawks.
“On the other side of the coin, there’s a possible rebuild looming,” Barnwell noted on November 22. “Wilson wasn’t happy last offseason, and he might very well have the same concerns after a lost campaign. Carroll is 70 years old, and his former job at USC just came open. If the Seahawks want to make a clean break with the Carroll-Wilson era and rebuild around Adams and DK Metcalf, their only real path to significant draft capital is by trading away their franchise quarterback. If Wilson wants to leave — or if Carroll is burned out after a decade in the NFL — they might not have a choice.”
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Carroll Shot Down the USC Rumors in September
Carroll leaving the Seahawks for USC seems unlikely unless ownership opts to make a drastic change this offseason. Barnwell admitted the best option may be to try to make the Carroll and Russell Wilson dynamic work for another season.
“I think the former is more likely than the latter, but what happens over the rest of this season might influence what these two power brokers want to do next,” Barnwell added. “The Seahawks don’t have any reason to tank with the Jets possessing that first-rounder, and it would go against just about everything Carroll stands for to give up and not compete the rest of the way. If they can right the ship and give a good accounting of themselves over the rest of 2021, it might help bring back Carroll and Wilson for another season in the Pacific Northwest.”
For his part, Carroll shot down the USC rumors when Clay Helton was fired in September. That said, the Seahawks sit in a completely different situation at 3-7 than their typical contender status during the Carroll era.
“Pete Carroll on whether he’d take the USC head coaching opening: ‘They haven’t called. No, I don’t want that. I’m very happy,'” Seattle Fox 13’s Aaron Levine tweeted on September 13.
Carroll Is Under Contract With the Seahawks Through the 2025 Season
Carroll signed a contract extension last year that runs through 2025 making a change more complicated. After the way Carroll has elevated the Seahawks during his tenure, it would be rash to fire him at the end of the season with one caveat.
The entire offseason hinges on Wilson and if he puts pressure on ownership to make changes. Carroll recently described his relationship with Wilson as “the best it’s ever been, by far.”
This offseason will prove whether Wilson and Carroll have patched things up for good, or if the 2021 season was a temporary fix. There is also the challenge that Carroll has admittedly had few answers for how to turn around the Seahawks season.
“The best it’s ever been, by far,” Carroll said of his relationship with Wilson during a November 24 press conference. “We’ve just been closer because of all that happened in the offseason and went through and the time we spent together. I think it’s as connected as it’s ever been. I mean, it’s a natural thing when you spend that much time and you work at stuff together, you know, that you grow together and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful for the relationship and helping him.
“I mean, we just went through one of the most difficult things [finger injury] he’s ever faced in his career, and to make it through that one step at a time every day, and stay in touch with it. And then to see him handle it, and come out of it and all of that. And now he’s ready to go, and a little bit frustrated we didn’t jump back in at a high level, but we’re cranked to turn and we’re looking forward to it.”