RENTON — Two days after being considered expendable by rebuilding Arizona, linebacker O’Brien Schofield found himself a wanted commodity by a Seattle team considered a Super Bowl favorite.
“Welcome to paradise,” former Arizona teammate Stephen Williams, also now a Seahawk, told Schofield as he walked into the locker room for the first time this week.
Schofield didn’t argue, calling the turn of events “definitely a blessing.”
For the Seahawks, the addition of Schofield — who practiced with the team for the first time Tuesday — is also something of a needed insurance policy.
Schofield will start out playing a role similar to that of Bruce Irvin — strongside linebacker and pass-rush specialist — who has been suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s policy on Performance Enhancing Drugs. Seattle is also still waiting for defensive end Chris Clemons — who led the team in sacks last year with 11.5 — to make it back from an ACL injury suffered in the playoff win over Washington.
“Yep, it does,” coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday when asked if the addition of Schofield helps ease concerns over early-season depth issues.
Schofield, though, hopes to be more than just a security blanket, especially when the Seahawks play the Cardinals this season.
Schofield played three years for Arizona, with four sacks in nine games last season before suffering an ankle injury that knocked him out for the rest of the season.
With a new head coach and defensive coordinator in Arizona, the Cardinals are undergoing some changes, and when the team recently signed John Abraham, it decided to let go of Schofield and his $1.3 million salary for this season.
“I definitely didn’t think that something like that would happen to me,” Schofield said. “But the fact that it did and I get picked up as soon as I did by a division rival, it makes me happy that I get a chance to see Arizona two times a year.”
Schofield said he had shown the Cardinals he was fully recovered from the ankle injury, suffered when he ran into teammate Darnell Dockett while chasing after Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But the Cardinals cut him anyway.
“It’s a lot of motivation,” he said of being cut by the Cardinals. “And honestly I didn’t like the way that I got let go. … when we lost all of those coaches, the (new) coaches brought their own guys in and you have to know that you have to compete for your job. They saw another way to win and they made their own changes.”
The Seahawks’ front office, meanwhile, perked up when it saw Schofield’s name on the waiver wire.
It was a name they knew well as Carroll said the team had its eye on Schofield for the 2010 draft before the Cardinals selected him in the fourth round.
“This is a guy that we liked in the draft,” Carroll said. “We had a place where we were going to pick him and unfortunately for us he went before so. So we’ve played him, he’s played against us. He’s a very active, very versatile football player. … We are really excited to get him on the team, and unfortunately it took us a couple of years to get him.”
Schofield Tuesday called himself “a pass rusher first” and said Seattle’s defense may be a better fit for what he does.
“They really made it simple for the guys that they believe are rushers to have simple drops and not think too much and just be able to play fast,” he said.
Schofield, who played collegiately at Wisconsin, got in about 10 plays during Tuesday’s team session, saying the new playbook was “kind of like Spanish.”
Eventually, though, Carroll sees Schofield joining Irvin and Clemons and Cliff Avril (who sat out Tuesday with a hamstring injury) in what he thinks could be an improved group of pass rushers.
“We just have to wait for the gratification of having all of those guys,” Carroll said. “We are different, all the sudden, with our edge rushers and we are excited about them.”