"He let me get into the door, and once I got my foot in the door, he just taught me how to grind," Bates said about his mentor. "I was up really early in the morning and working late at night learning every play known to man in football. It was special. The one thing I take from Jon is passion. You've got to have the passion. It's just too hard of a job if you're not in love with it. And he loved it. It was a fun three years."
Although young, Bates has seven years of NFL experience. He joined Gruden in Tampa Bay in 2002 as an offensive quality control coach after playing both football and basketball at Rice. After three seasons in Tampa Bay, he coached for a season with Herm Edwards' New York Jets as their quarterback coach and three seasons in Denver, coaching the offensive line, receivers and quarterbacks.
After Josh McDaniels took over the Broncos last year, Bates landed a job as the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach for USC, where he learned the Trojans' offensive system instead of installing his own.
And now, Bates spurned an opportunity to reunite with Jay Cutler as the offensive coordinator in Chicago to continue to work with new Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
Bates said Seattle's offense will closely resemble the offense of his last NFL stop, the Denver Broncos, from his time spent learning the West Coast offense under Mike Shanahan during his three years in Denver.
Bates said he learned plenty while being groomed under Shanahan's business-like approach, and appreciated Shanahan giving him his first opportunity to call plays.
Bates said with the addition of offensive-line coach and zone blocking guru Alex Gibbs, Seattle will continue to be a zone running team. And he believes the Seahawks have a solid foundation in place to become a good offensive team.
And Bates is excited about having veteran Matt Hasselbeck as the team's quarterback.
"He's a heck of a player," Bates said. "We're very fortunate to walk into an organization with Matt Hasselbeck being the leader. He's been to the Super Bowl.
"He's been in every situation. Part of playing quarterback is about experience, about taking those reps. It's kind of like the 10,000-hour rule. He's definitely been a part of that. He's excited. He feels the energy."
--After a month on the job, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll finally has his coaching staff in place. Only two coaches have been retained from former head coach Jim Mora's staff. They are defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and defensive line coach Dan Quinn, who will keep their old positions on Carroll's staff.
Eight of the 21 coaches are from Carroll's USC staff.
"I'm excited about the makeup of our staff," Carroll said in a prepared statement. "It's an energetic group of teachers with a nice blend of experience. Now we can turn our focus on the task at hand -- competing in the NFC West."
--Former Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy will have to wait another year to take his rightful place among the best players to have played in the NFL. Kennedy was not among a list of seven selected for enshrinement into the Pro Hall of Fame. But another former Seahawk, John Randle, is headed to Canton, along with four other finalists, including Jerry Rice, Russ Grimm, Emmitt Smith and Rickey Jackson.
The two nominees of the Seniors Committee, Dick LeBeau and Floyd Little, also made the cut. Nominees need 80 percent of the vote from the 44-member panel to get in. Kennedy spent all 11 years of his NFL career with Seattle. He was selected as the NFL defensive player of the year in 1992 on a team that finished 2-14 that season. Kennedy also went to eight Pro Bowls and was selected to the all-decade team for the 90s.
"I'm not disappointed. Not at all," Kennedy said after hearing the news. "Getting to the final 10, that's good. You look at all the names in there and you can just flip a coin."
Randle spent time with the Seahawks from 2001 to 2003 after an 11-year stint with the Minnesota Vikings that included six Pro Bowls. Randle also earned a Pro Bowl selection while with the Seahawks in 2001.
--Some Seahawks will be heading back to school during the offseason. Seven members of the team are among 77 players who have enrolled in the NFL Business Management and Entrepreneurial Program at Harvard Business School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Joining defensive end Patrick Kerney and tight end John Carlson at the Harvard workshop Feb. 15-19 will be linebacker Will Herring and kicker Olindo Mare. Taking part in the Wharton workshop Feb. 16-19 will be wide receiver Deion Branch, offensive lineman Steve Vallos and guard Mansfield Wrotto.
The program is part of an ongoing initiative by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to assist players in preparing for their careers after football. The program began in 2005, and 502 players have participated.
--According to two separate reports, the Seahawks added long snappers Pat McDonald and Mark Overton of Western Washington University to the team's roster.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's the best left tackle I've ever seen play the game. The guy is so smooth and patient, and to have him play left is something special, because you don't even have to think about who that stud defensive end is, you just say, 'Walter's got him.'" -- Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, when asked about the possibility of Walter Jones returning to the team.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With new general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll entering their first free agency and draft period together, there some uncertainty to how the Seahawks will begin to mold their new team moving forward.
During his tenure with Green Bay, Schneider and the Packers relied mostly on the draft to increase the talent level on the team. And Carroll said during interviews after he was hired that he didn't mind playing younger players at USC. So with three of the first 40 picks in the draft and a limited number of available free agents because of the likely capless year, the Seahawks likely will rely on the draft to improve the talent level on the team.
With the clock starting on teams beginning to add franchise tags to players that are entering free agency, the Seahawks likely will let the two-week period go without assigning the franchise tag to one of their possible free agents.
Seattle likely will have 10 unrestricted free agents if the owners and players do not reach an accord on a new collective bargaining agreement by March. Wide receiver Nate Burleson, kicker Olindo Mare and defensive lineman Cory Redding would be the likely candidates for the franchise tag.
Burleson would have to be signed at a price tag of $9.521 million which is a steep price for a No. 2 receiver. He made $3.25 million last season and was due to make the same this year, but took a player option in his contract that made him a free agent.
Mare would cost Seattle $2.814 million as a kicker. He made 21 straight field goals last season and proved to be an effective kicker in the rain and wind at Qwest Field. But Mare turns 37 in June.
Mare made $1.5 million last season.
Another player Seattle could consider franchising is defensive lineman Cory Redding, who made $2 million last season and had an uneven performance in his first year as a Seahawk. The tag for defensive tackles is $7 million
The deadline for applying the franchise tag is Feb. 25.
1. Running back: New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates said Justin Forsett and Julius Jones are good fits for the team's zone blocking scheme. However, the Seahawks could still use a dynamic playmaker at the running back position.
2. Defensive end: With Patrick Kerney likely not coming back this year and the Seahawks struggling to generate a consistent pass rush the past two seasons, the team could use an elite pass rusher coming off the edge.
3. Offensive tackle: With Walter Jones likely retiring and Sean Locklear struggling to stay healthy, Seattle needs an upgrade at the left tackle position.
MEDICAL WATCH: Defensive end Patrick Kerney had offseason elbow surgery, and safety Deon Grant had surgery to repair a broken wrist. Both are expected to be healthy for the team's first minicamp in April.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--WR Nate Burleson finished with 63 catches and three touchdowns, and served as the team's deep threat last season.
--FB Justin Griffith is a crafty veteran and experienced blocker in the zone running scheme. The Seahawks could use him.
--LS Kevin Houser finished the season in the injured reserve after suffering a collapsed lung against Tampa Bay, missing the final two games of the season.
--LB D.D. Lewis was a capable fill-in and special-teams player, but he likely will not be back.
--K Olindo Mare had another strong season for Seattle in 2009, and the Seahawks would be wise to bring him back.
--OL Damion McIntosh played solidly when the team picked him up midseason. He'll likely leave in free agency because he's looking for a starting job.
--S Lawyer Milloy played well in limited duty and would be a good person to hold onto as a mentor for younger player. A Tacoma native, Milloy would like to stay close to home.
--DL Cory Redding played both defensive end and defensive tackle for Seattle, coming on at the end of the year. However, he could be looking to get closer to his Texas roots.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (*indicates restricted because of uncapped year)
--OL Brandon Frye showed some promise before going on the injured reserve with a neck issue. He has some versatility with the ability to play guard and tackle.
--*LB Lance Laury led the team in special-teams tackles and served as an able backup at linebacker.
--WR Ben Obomanu played well on special teams and could get a chance to play more offensively next season.
--*OL Rob Sims was the team's best offensive lineman last season and wants to return to Seattle.
--*OL Chris Spencer was moved from center to guard because of issues snapping the ball with his off hand in the last three games of the year. Spencer still believes he's a center in the league.
--*DL Darryl Tapp was the team's most consistent pass rusher in 2009, but still only finished with 2 1/2 sacks on the year.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
--P Jon Ryan: Potential RFA; $9.1M/6 yrs, SB unknown.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.
PLAYERS LOST: None.