When I last took a stab at guessing the Seahawks’ initial regular-season roster, there were still 90 players headed to training camp.
Now, there are just 80 players in Seattle’s camp, the Seahawks having already decided to cut 10 to get down to what is now the maximum allowed once teams begin contact practices on Aug. 17, another change made this year to try to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seattle will have to cut that number to 53 by Sept. 5, which is the only other cutdown date for this season.
However, in another change this year, teams will be able to keep 16 on the practice squad, though as always, those players will have to clear waivers first.
Assuming that most of the practice squad players are those who were in camp, then the Seahawks may be keeping most of the players on their current roster in one form or another.
With camp about to start getting serious, let’s look at my updated projection of who will make the initial 53-man regular season roster.
Keep: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith.
Cut: Anthony Gordon.
Comment: Maybe no players have been hurt worse by the inability of teams to do anything on the field so far — and the cancelling of preseason games — than rookie quarterbacks.
It’d be really hard at this point for Gordon to unseat Smith, whose experience also gives the Seahawks an added level of comfort at that position in these most uncertain times.
But one thing worth wondering is if Seattle would keep all three, just in case. Undoubtedly the team would keep Gordon on the practice squad where he’d be able to be called up at a moment’s notice if needed.
Keep: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas, Nick Bellore.
Cut: Anthony Jones.
PUP: Rashaad Penny.
Comment: The Seahawks seem pretty set at this spot. If there’s a numbers jam elsewhere Seattle could go with just four and try to sneak Dallas — who would seem most logical — to the practice squad. But that would be pretty risky for a fourth-round pick.
By going on the PUP list Penny won’t count against the 53-man roster. But to bring him back at midseason a spot would have to be opened, and then Seattle might have to carry five running backs along with Bellore, who as the only fullback — a spot where the Seahawks always have a player — seems set to make it again.
Keep: Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Colby Parkinson.
Cut: Luke Willson, Tyler Mabry.
Comment: Parkinson is on the NFI (Non-Football Injury) list to start camp but is on the active list, meaning he could come off at any time. If so, then consider him a good bet to make the roster.
And that then makes this spot that much more interesting with the two big questions being if Willson can do enough to show he deserves to stay for another season, and if Hollister can do enough to earn the $3.2 million he is slated to make after being tendered as a restricted free agent (or, the team could do what it did with Branden Jackson in cutting him and then bringing him back at a lesser price).
It’s worth remembering again that anyone is now eligible for the practice squad. So, the Seahawks could cut Willson and then re-sign him to the PS and he’d be available at a moment’s notice.
Keep: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett, David Moore, John Ursua.
Cut: Freddie Swain, Stephen Sullivan, Penny Hart, Cody Thompson, Aaron Fuller.
Comment: The Seahawks have some intriguing young receivers in Swain and Sullivan who could push Moore and Ursua (Ursua was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Sunday and for now does not count against the team’s 80-man roster).
Moore also has a $2.13 million restricted free agent contract that will likely factor in to any roster decisions. Seattle could still look to add a free agent, too, most logically at this point Josh Gordon if his suspension is lifted.
Keep: Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi, Mike Iupati, Jordan Simmons, Damien Lewis, Phil Haynes, B.J. Finney, Ethan Pocic.
Cut: Chad Wheeler, Tommy Champion, Kyle Fuller, Jamarco Jones.
Comment: Remember when the Seahawks had 19 offensive linemen in April? That number is now down to 13, with recent moves including Chance Warmack opting out and the release of Joey Hunt. Those moves also make figuring out the line a little easier. Still, there will be lots of intrigue here with only Brown and Iupati returning to the positions they started at last year.
Seattle could well go with 10 and in that scenario they’d almost certainly keep Jones. I’m siding with Simmons instead of Jones for now based on the potential he flashed in a few starts in 2018. But he’s coming off a knee injury and will need to show he’s healthy.
New roster rules this year, though, also could come into play here. Teams this year will be allowed to have 48 players active on gameday as long as eight of them are offensive linemen.
Keep: L.J. Collier, Rasheem Green, Branden Jackson, Benson Mayowa, Alton Robinson, Darrell Taylor, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Bryan Mone.
Cut: Demarcus Christmas, Eli Mencer, Marcus Webb, Cedrick Lattimore.
Comment: The Seahawks will probably add at least one veteran, if not two, to this group over the next week or so, which will obviously change the outlook here.
While much of the speculation of adding to the line has focused on pass rushers, the Seahawks really seem like they could use another tackle. Any, if not all, of the young players being cut would seem likely practice squad candidates.
Keep: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven.
Cut: Shaquem Griffin.
Comment: I had Seattle keeping seven linebackers in May but I’m cutting that to six for now, in part since it appears Wright is on track to be ready for the season following shoulder surgery.
That has me making the tough call to cut Shaquem Griffin, who the team would undoubtedly want to keep on the practice squad. I’m siding with Burr-Kirven as the final linebacker due to his ability to back up the inside spots, and that he had a larger special teams role when last season ended.
If Griffin is to make the team it will be by doing enough in a special pass-rush package the Seahawks devised late last season. The addition of Adams and what he can do as a pass-rusher, though, might make that a little less of priority.
Keep: Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Quinton Dunbar, Ugo Amadi, Lano Hill, Marquise Blair, Neiko Thorpe.
Cut: Linden Stephens, Chris Miller, Brian Allen, Ryan Neal, Gavin Heslop, Debione Renfro, Kemah Siverand, Jayson Stanley.
Non-Football Injury list: D.J. Reed.
Comment: Much has been cleared up in this area in the last few weeks with the trade for Adams and the news that Dunbar is free of legal entanglements, and now free to play for the Seahawks.
So, consider seven spots as set — Diggs and Adams as the starting safeties, Griffin and Dunbar as the starting corners, with Flowers, Amadi and Blair as backups and used in situational roles, with Blair and Amadi also dueling for the nickel spot.
Hill adds veteran depth at the safety spots and the Seahawks also are eager to see what he can do with a fully healthy training camp after suffering a brutal hip injury in 2018. And Thorpe has been a special-teams mainstay since 2016.
Keep: Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott.
Comment: Copy and paste comment — this remains the easiest position group to figure out as none of the three has competition and all are under contract for at least two more years.