RENTON — Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider generally prefers staying as far away from the media spotlight as possible.
Helping construct the squad of players that has the Seahawks headed to their second Super Bowl in 38 years, though, compelled Schneider to step from behind the curtains Friday and meet with local reporters for the first time this season.
Not that Schneider, who along with head coach Pete Carroll has taken a franchise that won nine games in the two years before they arrived in 2010 to within a game of the sport’s ultimate prize, was ready to take a bow.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction in that regard,” he said of beating the 49ers last Sunday to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII against the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2 in East Rutherford, N.J. “But we have our sights set much higher because of what we want to do here for as long as we possibly can.”
In fact, Schneider spent much of the week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., preparing for the 2014 NFL draft.
And his mind never strays far from the knowledge there are some hard decisions soon confronting him as the Seahawks try to keep the core of their team intact while continuing to make other moves to keep it competitive.
The likes of receiver Golden Tate and defensive lineman Michael Bennett are unrestricted free agents after this season, and then the really challenging moves will begin following the 2014 season when Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas are free agents, and 2015 when quarterback Russell Wilson’s contract runs out.
“You definitely have to take that time and enjoy it,” Schneider said. “And I want everybody to be so excited about what’s going on, whether it’s you guys, the fans, everybody in the building. The people upstairs are giddy, it’s great, it’s cool to see. But yeah, I always know what’s coming.”
In fact, during a half-hour conversation, Schneider said he began preparing a while ago for some of the decisions the team will be forced to make.
“Probably last spring,” he said. “You know, we are looking two to three years ahead. So last year we knew we were going to have some things coming and how to handle certain players and to know just where we are headed.”
That the Seahawks will soon have some of the most sought-after free agents on their roster, though, also is a sign of how far the team has come since Schneider arrived — he was hired shortly after Carroll was lured as coach from USC.
“They are really good problems to have,” Schneider said. ” … When we got together, I had told him that our goal was to get this thing to the point where people wanted our players, and the players wanted to be here.
“That’s when you know you’re getting to be a more talented football team. This last year, when we sat down to discuss how we were going to acquire players and what that meant for the future, that’s when we started having more difficult conversations because you’re effecting people’s lives. You may be effecting someone’s life and their family and someone that has been with you for a year or two or three. That’s never easy.”
Schneider also said he wasn’t necessarily surprised Seattle had gotten to the Super Bowl four years after he arrived, saying he had never set a specific timetable, and reiterating that the goal is to stay at this level for a consistent period.
“I think we believed we could do it,” he said. “But this league, it’s so hard to win one game. And I’m not very good at the game-day predictions. . . . I think we just have a ton of respect for the league and how hard it is to get to where we are right now. More importantly, where we’re at peace is that we know we’re trying to get better every single day beyond this game, because we want this to be a consistent championship-caliber team, where there is a solid base and we have to make tough decisions every year.”
One of Schneider’s tougher decisions before the 2013 season was pulling the trigger on the trade for receiver Percy Harvin, acquired for three draft choices (including a 2013 first-rounder) and then signed to a six-year contract that could pay him $67 million, with $25 million guaranteed.
Harvin, however, has been able to play in just two games so far, battling a hip injury that required preseason surgery, and then after returning to play in Divisional playoff victory over New Orleans, missing the NFC title game with a concussion.
The 25-year-old Harvin, though, has practiced fully all week and is expected to play in the Super Bowl.
“I feel bad for him, the way that this has gone,” Schneider said. “I’m sure it’s been tough for him. I’m very happy for him now. I think this is incredibly exciting for Percy and his family and his teammates and the staff and our fans that he has an opportunity to play in the biggest game of the year. But I feel bad for him that this has gone the way it’s gone. But the best thing about it is that it’s a six-year contract and he’s a young man.”