Punter Jon Ryan is the only player on the Seahawks’ roster that predates head coach Pete Carroll and General Manager John Schneider in Seattle. And while Ryan and Schneider have a close relationship and work out together at the team’s headquarters throughout the season, it didn’t stop Schneider from selecting a punter that could eventually supplant Ryan as Seattle’s punter in May’s NFL Draft.
“[Schneider] had that attitude almost like, ‘Sorry, but I had to do it,” Ryan said when he first crossed paths with his G.M. after the draft. “And I was like, ‘Don’t apologize! Do not apologize.’ This is the business. If all the players got to pick who was on the team every year, we’d still have the Super Bowl team from five years ago.”
Ryan has been with the Seahawks for 10 seasons after being let go by the Green Bay Packers at the end of training camp in 2008. It was a decision that Schneider had to inform Ryan the Packers were making when Schneider was Director of Football Operations in Green Bay. Now Ryan’s time with the Seahawks is in peril after a decade spent in Seattle.
Barring the occasional unique circumstance, NFL teams only keep one punter and one place kicker on their 53-man roster during the season. And the Seahawks just spent a relatively high draft pick to select a player 15 years younger than Ryan; a player that won MVP honors in the Texas Bowl against the University of Missouri in December.
“If you let me, I’m going to compete my ass off, harder than you’ve ever seen,” Ryan told Schneider. “I love you. I have so much respect for you. But one way or the other, I’m going to make you look really dumb.”
Ryan is getting that chance to compete. He’s still on the Seahawks’ roster as the team breaks for six weeks before training camp begins at the end of July. While Dickson can do some impressive things kicking a football, Ryan has vastly more experiencing holding for place kickers. He’s also thrown a touchdown pass in the NFC Championship game and caught a 109-yard touchdown pass when playing at the University of Regina in Canada.
While kickers can get panned for their perceived lack of athleticism, Ryan doesn’t fit that mold. He can do many things beside punt a football, though he’s still quite good at that as well.
“We expect him to battle just like he is,” Carroll said during offseason workouts. “He has not backed off one moment.”