RENTON — The bigger news out of Seattle’s move Wednesday to add tight end Ed Dickson to the 53-man roster off injured reserve was what came next.
To create a spot for Dickson on the roster, Seattle waived veteran cornerback Jamar Taylor, who has been the team’s primary nickel corner all season.
And that means rookie Ugo Amadi will apparently take over the nickel spot for Sunday’s game at Philadelphia — and maybe for deep into the future if the fourth-round pick out of Oregon shows he’s up to the task.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did the best he could to hedge on naming Amadi as the new nickel, but acknowledged that “he’s going to play there. We have a couple different choices to play. He’s been ready to do it. We’re working some guys, always, that can also contribute based on the matchups and things. It’s not for sure how we’re doing that yet.”
The other options could include using Akeem King, who entered the season considered as one of the favorites for the nickel spot but has played there sparingly this season (though he did start the Atlanta game at left cornerback when Tre Flowers was out), and Quandre Diggs, who played the nickel substantially early in his career with the Detroit Lions.
But Diggs appears to have found a role at free safety after a standout performance in his first start for Seattle in last Monday’s 27-24 win over the 49ers, and on Wednesday Carroll again praised the pairing of Diggs with strong safety Bradley McDougald.
“I really like the play of the safeties this week,” Carroll said. “We hit the guys well. Knocked a couple balls loose. Pick. Just some nice fills and fits on the run game. I thought the guys played the best we’ve played. We’ll go to this week and think with the same guys going out there.”
So, that all seems to point to Amadi, who played the nickel in the first game of the year against the Bengals but has played just one defensive snap since then. Amadi has also played safety in practice this season, but he has spent much of his recent work at nickel.
Amadi played the nickel spot against Cincinnati after the team released Taylor the initial cut down to a 53-man roster, which enabled Seattle to not have to guarantee Taylor’s contract for the rest of the season. The Seahawks then brought Taylor back and he played the nickel the last nine games before being waived Wednesday, a move that will save roughly $285,000 against the cap.
In his 21 defensive snaps, Amadi has been targeted four times, allowing four receptions for 32 yards, a passer rating of exactly 100.
But Carroll said he thinks the two-months plus Amadi has had since then will have him even more prepared to handle the nickel spot now.
“He’s gathered hundreds of reps more now,” Carroll said. “He’s better versed now, more than ever. He’s a real smart player and a real heady player. He really has his assignments in order and the techniques that we’re expecting him to play. If he’s the guy playing in the game, we can really count on him to know what’s going on. He’s better now than he was just because of the time he spent.”
Amadi also has been a special teams standout — his 145 snaps on special teams are fifth-most on the team — a role that Carroll said will continue.
Taylor, a seven-year veteran out of Boise State, allowed 25 receptions on 40 targets for 260 yards and a TD, a passer rating of 89.6 in nine games.
But Carroll said on Monday that the Seahawks were not averse to making a change at the nickel spot.
“He’s in a competitive situation and he’s got to keep doing well to hold his spot, just like everybody else,’’ Carroll said Monday of Taylor.
Seattle has gotten a lot of notice for not playing much nickel this season, preferring to leave strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks on the field as much as possible. But Seattle had been using Taylor a bit more of late — he’d gotten 90 of his 196 snaps for the season in the past three games.
The Eagles, though, are one of the more run-heavy teams in the NFL — they rank 10th in the league in percentage of running plays at 45.5 percent — and the Seahawks could go into the game thinking of again using more of their base defense.
As for Dickson, he had to be activated by this week or he would have had to remain on IR, which made it a given he would be added to the roster. But Seattle needs him even more now that Luke Willson is likely out for a week or two after suffering a hamstring injury in the win over the 49ers (Willson did not practice Wednesday).
That will leave Dickson and Jacob Hollister as the only two healthy tight ends on the roster.
Dickson, a 10-year vet out of Oregon, played in 10 games for Seattle last season with 12 receptions for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He went on IR after the initial setting of the 53-man roster, which allowed him to be designated to return this season, after having knee surgery in early August.
“It was a great time for him to be available to us,” Carroll said. “He wanted to get back a couple weeks ago. We couldn’t fit it in. Luke is kind of opening the door for him…. Ed coming back is great. He’s really excited to contribute and help out.”
Seattle also signed linebacker Pita Taumoepenu to the practice squad to fill the spot created when Adrian Colbert signed with the 53-man roster of the Dolphins. Taumoepenu was a sixth-round pick in 2017 by the 49ers out of Utah. He has played in six NFL games with three tackles, but has not played this season.