The start of the Seattle Seahawks’ first offense-versus-defense drills this offseason was more remarkable for who wasn’t there than for who was.
But it’s only May. And after all, these “organized team activities” are voluntary.
Yet the reason Russell Wilson was absent could be indicative of a far more impactful and lasting development for Seattle’s offense the next few seasons.
The two-time Super Bowl quarterback flew across the country to be in Florida on Tuesday with recently acquired tight end Jimmy Graham for the funeral of Graham’s manager and close mentor, Tamara Fox Meyerson.
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The gesture shows how close Wilson has become with the NFL’s top pass-catching tight end the past few seasons with New Orleans.
One of the first calls Graham got two months ago immediately after learning he’d been traded to the two-time defending NFC champions came from Wilson.
Their bond could come in handy inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and all over the field this coming season.
“I think there is something to that,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said following the no pads and (mostly) no helmets workout Tuesday alongside sunny Lake Washington.
“I think it’s compassion, showing heart. … I think those two guys have made an effort. They realize the value of the relationship, that them creating conversation and dialogue can be so helpful as we go here.”
Wilson was also traveling to the funeral for the father of Seahawks teammate and defensive end Cliff Avril.
Marshawn Lynch was also absent from OTAs. So what; Lynch skipped the team’s reception at the White House last spring for winning Super Bowl 48. The star running back rarely participates in a team activity that is not mandatory.
Bruce Irvin, the outside linebacker who has recently expressed he wants to be elsewhere after his contract ends following the 2015 season, also wasn’t at the workout.
Neither was defensive end Michael Bennett.
Bennett has missed all voluntary team work this offseason while saying he’d like a raise one year into his four-year, $28.5 million contract.
Asked if he takes the no-shows by Irvin and Bennett for what it’s worth right now, Carroll said flatly: “Yes. Voluntary.”
Carroll said Wilson’s show of support on the other side of the country was the quarterback’s idea.
“He wanted to do it,” the coach said, “and I thought it was a good gesture and show of support.”
Wilson’s absence was the first time anyone can remember him missing any snap of any workout in his four seasons with the team. It left Seattle with third-stringer B.J. Daniels and recently signed free-agent R.J. Archer out of the Arena Football League as the only quarterbacks remaining.
The results gave a chilling glimpse of what life might be like for these Seahawks if Wilson wasn’t around.
Archer looked good at times, but at other times threw passes into defenders. That included a 1-yard flick into the face of a defensive lineman for a tipped interception.
On another play Daniels flat dropped an attempted handoff.
Carroll said the team might pursue signing another QB, with usual No. 2 Tarvaris Jackson still an unsigned free agent.
As for the most important talks of all right now: Wilson and the Seahawks are close — in a literal, physical sense, if not in agreeable numbers on a new contract beyond his rookie one that expires after the 2015 season.
“Hopefully we’ll get something done,” Carroll said, knowing the team’s goal remains getting it finished before training camp begins at the end of July. “But if we don’t, we’ll just have to deal with that. But we’re very close — in talking. We are very close in our conversation and our exchanging process through this. Our communication has been great.
“What’s been going on for months is simply an ongoing work in progress; the two sides are closer than has been portrayed.”
Asked Tuesday the likelihood of getting Wilson’s deal done before training camp, Carroll said: “I don’t know. I’m not talking about that right now.”
Wilson and his agent, Mark Rodgers, have yet to talk publicly about the talks that began in earnest after the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
How has Wilson been handling the situation?
“I think as much as anybody can deal with it, Russell will,” Carroll said. “We’ve talked a lot about the process of it and all of that and the expectations.
“He’s had a great offseason. He’s looked incredibly in-shape and faster than ever. He’s worked great on the field when he’s been with us. He’s really set his mind to it. The proof is in the action of what he can put out there. He’s on it.”
The Seahawks signed their top draft choice, DE Frank Clark, plus third-round pick WR/KR Tyler Lockett. All of the team’s draft choices are now signed. … Tuesday’s most notable participants: SS Kam Chancellor and CB Richard Sherman. Initially there were fears both would need postseason surgery, Chancellor for a medial-collateral injury in his knee and Sherman for his elbow. Neither needed operations and are full go. Chancellor said this is the best he’s felt in any of his five NFL offseasons. He’s already recovered from the previous season because he hasn’t had to rehabilitate from a surgery. “It’s a miracle,” he said. … All-Pro S Earl Thomas is recovering from surgery to repair the separated shoulder through which he played the second half of January’s NFC Championship Game and all of Super Bowl 49. Thomas was bent at the waist like a coach at times watching defensive back drills. Carroll said he expects Thomas back in time for training camp at the end of July. … DT Brandon Mebane, who tore his hamstring in November, watched the drills. He looked like he was in good shape considering he hasn’t played in six months. Carroll praised Mebane’s recovery and said he expects him back in time for the start of camp. … Carroll said there is a chance WR Paul Richardson, recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee he got in the playoff win over Carolina in mid-January, could be ready for training camp. But Carroll added the team will be conservative with the return of its second-round pick from 2014. … Carroll said the torn ACL CB Jeremy Lane got in the first quarter of the Super Bowl is progressing nicely. But the broken arm he got on the same interception return is healing slowly and “is another concern coming up.” Carroll mentioned the possibility of Lane being on the field for the start of training camp, but that would be a dramatic recovery. … DT Jesse Williams poked his head out of a doorway of team headquarters to watch the start of the workout and seemed in good spirits. Williams was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer and will have surgery Thursday. … RB Robert Turbin recently had hip surgery. Carroll said he is recovering well “up north.” No word if that was Everett, British Columbia or Alaska. … Derrick Coleman, who broke his foot in October warming up for a game in St. Louis, was at fullback.