The initial 53-man roster the Seahawks set for the 2020 season didn’t last a day before undergoing change as Seattle claimed linebacker D’Andre Walker off waivers Sunday morning and waived cornerback Linden Stephens in a corresponding move.
The Seahawks also signed Shaquem Griffin, Stephen Sullivan, Danny Etling and 11 others to the practice squad Sunday.
Here’s a recap of Seattle’s moves:
Seahawks claim LB Walker from Titans
Walker, a 6-foot-2, 251-pounder who played at Georgia before being taken in the fifth round last year by Tennessee, will join the Seahawks as an edge rusher and maybe strongside linebacker.
Walker missed all of last season with an injury for the Titans and then was regarded as a somewhat surprising cut by the team (though the Titans may also have had a good inkling at that point that Jadeveon Clowney would be coming on board and that it made sense to clear out an edge rusher to make room).
“I loved his attitude,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said of Walker at the combine in February. “He was excited to learn. I think we needed to get him healthy and get him right.”
Walker had 5.5 and 7.5 sacks in his final two seasons at Georgia and is expected to be thrown right into the mix as a strongside linebacker and edge rusher for the Seahawks.
Stephens was something of a surprise to make the 53-man roster Saturday. The Seahawks will undoubtedly hope he clears waivers and can return to the practice squad, where he spent most of last season for Seattle.
Seahawks sign 14 to practice squad
Any worry the Seahawks wouldn’t be able to keep Griffin, Sullivan and others was quickly tempered Sunday when it was learned none of Seattle’s 19 waived players had been claimed by other teams (only 17 were claimed around the league with the thought being a shortened training camp and other COVID-19 related restrictions had teams more than ever deciding to stick with their own players).
There was obvious concern about Griffin given his popularity and that his twin brother, Shaquill, is entering his contract year with the Seahawks. But Seattle now will be able to keep the two together.
Sullivan, a seventh-round pick out of Louisiana State, was the only one of Seattle’s eight draft picks to be waived and he will now be kept in the fold.
Etling, meanwhile, becomes Seattle’s defacto third quarterback as the Seahawks did not sign Anthony Gordon of Washington State, who was the other QB in camp, to the practice squad.
Seattle claimed Etling off waivers midway through camp and he had some good moments in the final two mock games.
He also has been with the Falcons and Patriots the past two seasons, the two teams Seattle plays first in the 2020 season. Those seasons also may have given Etling something of an edge in experience on Gordon, even if almost all of it was on the practice squad (he has not appeared in an NFL game).
Also signing to the practice squad was former UW standout receiver Aaron Fuller.
Here are the others who signed to the practice squad: OT Tommy Champion, WR Penny Hart, DB Gavin Heslop, DT Cedrick Lattimore, WR Lance Lenoir, TE Tyler Mabry, DB Ryan Neal, DB Jayson Stanley, WR Cody Thompson and OL Chad Wheeler. All were with Seattle during training camp.
Seattle has also been reported by Yahoo.com as agreeing to sign defensive tackle Anthony Rush, who was waived by the Eagles over the weekend, to the practice squad.
Rush, listed at 6-5, 350, played 171 snaps for the Eagles last year, mostly as a run-defense tackle.
If Stephens clears waivers and signs to the PS then that would fill out the entire squad.
Practice squads were increased to 16 players this year from the previous 10. Up to six of those players can be veterans with any amount of experience. Both are changes made this year to give teams more players and roster flexibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic (in the past, of the 10 players on the PS, two could have any amount of experience).
Another change is that players on the PS now receive fixed weekly salaries — $8,400 for players with two or fewer accrued seasons and $12,000 for veterans.
Practice-squad spots are especially valuable this year due to new rules that allow for teams to call up two players off the squad each Saturday (or the day before the game) to their active gameday roster.
Those players will receive pro-rated shares of active roster player salaries for that game. Those players can then go back to the PS without having to go through waivers. Teams can do that twice a season with each player.
Teams can also protect four players each week on their practice squad from being signed to another team’s 53-man roster. Teams can protect each player four times a year.
Among players not re-signed by Seattle to the practice squad was defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, who was a sixth-round pick in 2019 out of Florida State but missed his rookie season with a back injury.