RENTON, Wash. — Pete Carroll is out after 14 seasons as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, responsible for two NFC championships and the only Super Bowl title in franchise history during his long tenure.
The 72-year old coach is moving into an advisory role with the organization, according to a statement from owner Jody Allen on Wednesday. But it’s clear that Carroll wanted to continue in the role he had for more than a decade.
“I competed pretty hard to be the coach, just so you know,” Carroll said during an emotional farewell news conference. “I just wanted to make sure I stood up for all of our coaches and the players and the things that we had accomplished. Not just so we could be the coach still, but so we could continue to have a chance to be successful and keep the organization going. That’s what I was fighting for.”
With staff from throughout the facility, assistant coaches and a few current players filling the auditorium, Carroll spoke for more than 30 minutes through a mix of tears and laughter about a tenure that will be difficult for any coach to match in the future.
“I’m thrilled that we’ve had this run. I really am. This level of consistency that we’ve demonstrated is such that it makes you proud,” Carroll said.
Seattle closed the regular season with a 21-20 win at Arizona on Sunday. The Seahawks entered the final two weeks of the regular season with the chance at reaching the playoffs for the 11th time with Carroll in charge, but a Week 17 loss to Pittsburgh left Seattle in need of help it didn’t get to close out the season.
Carroll will step aside as the most successful coach in franchise history, but with an unsatisfactory conclusion after several seasons of middling results. He’ll forever be lauded as the first coach to bring the Lombardi Trophy to Seattle with the Super Bowl 48 victory over Denver.
But Carroll never fully recovered from what happened in the Super Bowl a year later with Russell Wilson’s goal line interception in the final seconds, and Seattle never experienced another title that could wash away the memories of what happened in Super Bowl 49.
Carroll stepped aside with a 137-69-1 record in the regular season in his time with the Seahawks. He led Seattle to five NFC West titles and 10 playoff victories.
But the Seahawks plateaued toward the end of Carroll’s time. Seattle finished with a losing record in 2021, made the playoffs at 9-8 in 2022 and was unable to make the leap that it was expected to being more of a contender in the NFC West this season.
Carroll himself sounded frustrated going into Week 18 about how this season had gone.
“We have a lot of work to do, but the outlook for the future is very positive, because of the makeup of the guys, the way they want to work, the way they go about it,” Carroll said.
That future for Seattle will be under the watch of a different coach, though.
Despite the lackluster final chapter, Carroll’s tenure in Seattle will be viewed as the most successful run since the franchise arrived in 1976. He ushered in a player-friendly environment built around allowing personalities to show within the defined structure of his system. Carroll preached competition but made it fun along the way.
The Seahawks thrived under Carroll with the personalities of Marshawn Lynch, Doug Baldwin and Richard Sherman, for example. They plucked Wilson out of the third round and watched him help the team win a Super Bowl in his second season. Known for his defensive mind, Carroll created a defense that was the best of its era for multiple seasons and was at the foundation of those back-to-back teams which won NFC titles.
But Super Bowl 49 was a tipping point the Seahawks never truly recovered from. Wilson’s pass that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler and gave New England a 28-24 win eventually led to an unraveling of the core that took Seattle to those championship games. As much as Carroll tried several different reboots, the Seahawks never again found that level of talent and chemistry to create a juggernaut of a team.
Seattle never advanced past the divisional round of the playoffs following that last Super Bowl trip and was dumped out of the postseason in the wild-card round in three of its past four postseason appearances.
The question will immediately turn to Carroll’s replacement and whether Seattle tries to stay within the Seahawks family tree or looks to bring in a fresh voice to work with general manager John Schneider. It will be the first time since arriving at the same time as Carroll that Schneider will have complete control over personnel.
Seattle is the seventh NFL team at the moment looking for a new coach, joining Tennessee, Atlanta and Washington who have fired coaches since the regular season ended. The Raiders, the Chargers and Panthers didn’t wait for the season to end before firing coaches.
NFL teams can’t start in-person interviews until after the divisional round after owners voted in October to push those back a week to slow down the hiring process and try to increase diversity in hiring. They also cannot interview head coaching candidates employed by other NFL teams until Tuesday or Wednesday for any coach whose team is done or team has a playoff bye. Teams can start virtual interviews.
Any internal candidates or someone not currently employed by the NFL can interview in person.