SEATTLE (AP) — The first major contract extension finalized by the Seattle Seahawks following their Super Bowl title was a commitment to coach Pete Carroll — and to an ideology that finally proved successful at the professional level.
While getting stars such as Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman locked up remains important, the focus for the Seahawks was making sure Carroll was sticking around.
"This was a huge priority for us coming into the offseason," Seattle general manager John Schneider said Friday. "We knew it was around the corner and it was, quite honestly, we're trying to take care of our own people and keep our young players together. But where do you start? You start at the top."
The Seahawks locked up Carroll through the 2016 season with a three-year extension announced Friday. The new contract rips up the final year of the original five-year deal Carroll signed in January 2010, and cleared up any uncertainty whether the 62-year-old coach wanted to stick around after his original deal expired.
Carroll is staying. So are the ideas and beliefs he brought with him when he arrived from Southern California. Back then, there was skepticism whether his style and attitude would work in the NFL.
Now, there's no question.
"Whether this came about or not I was going to keep busting it and going for it. It wasn't going to matter in that regard. But I think the statement, that they wanted to validate the commitment to what we're doing and how we're doing it, was extraordinary," Carroll said. "It was an extraordinary effort on their part and I'm just humbled and thrilled they see it that way."
Carroll is 38-26 in four regular seasons with Seattle and 5-2 in the playoffs. He's the second-oldest head coach in the NFL — yet rarely acts his age — and one of seven current coaches with a Super Bowl title. The championship was a crowning achievement for Carroll after struggles in his two previous stints as an NFL head coach with the New York Jets and New England.
Carroll was lured to Seattle because of something he didn't have in his previous NFL stops: control. Seattle gave him the reins to the franchise, and hired him before adding Schneider to the mix, and creating a relationship that has been marked by stability and success.
After nearly a decade of winning with the Trojans and having say over a program, that level of control was crucial if he was going back to the professional ranks. The Seahawks were willing.
"I loved my time at USC and I was having the time of my life being part of that wonderful school and all the things that we were doing," Carroll said. "But I knew there was another challenge out there and that was coming to the league."
The challenge Carroll inherited included tearing down and rebuilding the Seahawks roster and treading water through a pair of 7-9 seasons his first two years. The breakthrough came in Year 3 when Seattle drafted Russell Wilson, who gave them stability at quarterback. Seattle went 11-5 in Carroll's third season and reached the divisional round of the playoffs.
Carroll followed that by guiding the Seahawks to 13 regular-season wins, the 2013 NFC West title and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Seattle knocked off New Orleans in the divisional round then edged San Francisco in the NFC title game before routing Denver 43-8 in the Super Bowl in February.
Part of the allure for Carroll now is Seattle's potential. The Seahawks are still young and have the likes of Wilson, Sherman, Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Percy Harvin and Michael Bennett, among others, returning from the title team.
"Fortunately we've had a pretty good little run and we're in the middle of something pretty special," Carroll said. "There's no reason that either one of us think, 'OK, we did this one time and that was it and that was our shot.' We think we're right in the middle of a great opportunity here."
AP freelance writer Curtis Crabtree contributed to this report.