Anyone who follows the Seahawks closely knows that roster juggling is a 365-24-7 job (or, 366 every four years).
But the completion of the draft, following closely on the heels of the first few phases of the free-agent signing period, marks the end of the most significant period of team building.
And while some big moves could still come (K.J. Wright? Richard Sherman?), the depth of the current roster and the draft ammo the team has given up the last few years might mean the Seahawks are less likely to make the kind of summer trades for a Jamal Adams or Jadeveon Clowney they did the past two years.
In other words, the roster as currently assembled might be pretty close to what Seattle goes to camp with in late July.
As this was written, Seattle had 85 players under contract.
Teams can have 90 for training camp but then must cut to 53 for the regular season. And unlike in years past, there is now just one cutdown date, which this year is Sept. 4.
After rosters are cut, teams can assemble practice squads. Last year, those were expanded to 16 to allow more depth for COVID-19 issues. At the moment, practice squads for this year are scheduled to be set at 12. But that could change if the league again decides to go with more players and greater flexibility.
And what might Seattle’s 53-player squad look like?
Glad you asked. With almost four months before decisions have to be made, here’s one man’s guess at what it might look like.
Keep: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith.
Cut: Alex McGough, Danny Etling.
Comment: This is shaping up to be just how the QB situation ended in 2020, with Seattle carrying two on the 53 and then at least one, and maybe two, on the PS.
Keep: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, Nick Bellore.
Cut: Alex Collins, B.J. Emmons, Josh Johnson.
Comment: Collins will give Homer and Dallas a real run for a roster spot. But it’s hard to see Seattle keeping more than four tailbacks and for now I’ll side with the Seahawks wanting to keep the two younger players (both of whom also had significant special-teams roles last season) and hope that they can get Collins back on the practice squad (remember, all players are now eligible for the PS regardless of how many years they have played). As the only fullback and a key special-teams player, Bellore seems a lock to make it. But Seattle could again cut him for a few days if they need to do some roster juggling and then bring him back, as they’ve done the past two years.
Keep: Gerald Everett, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson.
Cut: Tyler Mabry, Nick Guggemos.
Comment: This spot seems fairly straight forward with the Seahawks sure to keep three tight ends, and Mabry in particular a practice-squad candidate.
Keep: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, D’Wayne Eskridge, Freddie Swain,
Cut: John Ursua, Penny Hart, Cody Thompson, Aaron Fuller, Darvin Kidsy, Tamorrion Taylor, Cade Johnson, Connor Wedington.
Comment: Before hitting send on the e-mail calling me an idiot for keeping just four receivers, hear me out. First, recall that teams can now bring up two players from the practice squad on game day to fill out rosters to 55. I would expect three or four of the cut WRs to hang on to the PS and be available whenever needed. Also recall that in an average year, 41 players are claimed off waivers at the cutdown date, or basically one per team, meaning most players do make it through waivers and then are eligible to sign onto the PS (last year, only 17 players were claimed). And no question, if one of the young players — such as rookies Taylor, Wedington or Johnson — really shines in the preseason and the team is worried they would not get through waivers, then they’d obviously have to be kept. But for now, I’m siding with 11 offensive linemen and receiver is where that offensive spot is coming from.
Keep: Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Gabe Jackson, Damien Lewis, Ethan Pocic, Cedric Ogbuehi, Kyle Fuller, Jordan Simmons, Jamarco Jones, Phil Haynes, Stone Forsythe.
Cut: Tommy Champion, Brad Lundblade, Greg Eiland, Jake Curhan, Jared Hocker, Pier-Olivier Lestage.
Comment: Would Seattle really keep 11 offensive linemen? Most years no, as Seattle usually keeps nine or 10. But given how injuries impacted the line last season and how the Seahawks are likely to want to keep Forsythe even if he may need a year or so to develop, this could be a time they’d err on the side of having an extra lineman or two.
Keep: Ends Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder, L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Benson Mayowa, Alton Robinson, Darrell Taylor, Aldon Smith; tackles Al Woods, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone.
Cut: Robert Nkemdiche, Cedrick Lattimore, Myles Adams, Jarrod Hewitt.
Comment: The first 10 listed above seem like givens. I’m taking the D-line to 11 by also keeping Smith. And before hitting send on the e-mail telling me that’s too many, I’ll point out that Pete Carroll said after the draft the Seahawks could use Darrell Taylor in some strongside linebacker roles. Smith also has that in his background. Nkemdiche is obviously a huge wild card after a year off of football and he also would be a fourth DT on the 53. Seattle went with three most of last season (with the big ends such as Collier and Green getting lots of snaps at tackle in the nickel as well). But if Nkemdiche shows much of anything, then the former first-round pick may be a tough one to keep off the roster.
Keep: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven.
Cut: Nate Evans, Jon Rhattigan, Aaron Doncker.
Comment: I’m getting the spot for an extra DL by keeping just four LBs. Seattle last year had seven. So yes, this could, and maybe probably will, turn out to be too few, especially if the Seahawks re-sign Wright. Of the three other LBs, Evans seems like the best chance to make the 53 — recall that the team can keep Doncker as an extra practice-squad player all season since he is part of the international pathway program. And special teams could also be a factor. The Seahawks may need to sign another LB who can compete to make the 53 just to fill out those snaps. But again, should Wright sign, then ink him in and we’d have five true LBs. Until then, only four seem a given to make it.
Keep: Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Ahkello Witherspoon, D.J. Reed, Tre Flowers, Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair, Tre Brown, Damarious Randall, Ryan Neal.
Cut: Pierre Desir, Jordan Miller, Gavin Heslop, Bryan Mills, Saivion Smith.
Comment: The battle for the last few roster spots in the secondary figures to be especially competitive. But as with receiver, I’d expect two or three of those cut here to hang around on the practice squad. All of those I have being cut are cornerbacks, and one reason I’m siding with Randall and Neal as the final two spots for now is their experience playing both corner and safety, with the ability to fill several roles often helping to determine who wins roster battles. Of the veteran corners, Flowers may be the most vulnerable due to a $2.183 million base salary that is not guaranteed. But until some of the younger guys play some I think his experience, which my guess is Seattle coaches view more favorably than the outside perception, gets him on.
Keep: Jason Myers (kicker), Michael Dickson (punter), Tyler Ott (snapper).
Comment: This remains the easiest position group to figure out as none of the three has competition. Dickson, though, is entering the final year of his rookie deal and could be due to an extension this offseason.