RENTON — The Seahawks’ grand roster plan finally came into full fruition Monday when the team announced it had re-signed receiver Jaron Brown and fullback Nick Bellore.
Each had been among the cuts when the team pared its roster to 53 on Saturday by the 1 p.m. deadline, each move catching many by surprise because each player was projected as a starter at his position in Seattle’s offense.
But Monday, when each again became Seahawks after officially re-signing with the team, it became clear that Seattle had made each move solely to do some roster maneuvering, as it had also done with backup quarterback Geno Smith, who re-signed Sunday.
All three players were vested veterans, meaning they did not have to go through waivers and could not be claimed by another team.
That meant that as long as each agreed not to sign with another team during the time they were free agents, then Seattle could re-sign them when it had the roster spot available.
It was a tactic Seattle also tried after the first week of last season with defensive tackle Tom Johnson, who was released for a game so the Seahawks could promote safety Shalom Luani from the practice squad for depth and special teams for a game at Chicago.
That plan backfired, though, when Johnson — already assured of getting his contracted money from the Seahawks — decided to sign with the Vikings, the team for which he had played before coming to Seattle.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seemed to make a reference to that situation when he was asked about being able to release Brown and Bellore and then get them to re-sign.
“This is really an illustration of trust that they trusted us and we trusted them, and as they went out we intended to find a way to get them to come back and they believed in us and hung on with us,’’ Carroll said. “And I think there’s a lot to be said for the players in that regard, that they want to be part of the program and were willing to wait it out. We had every intention of doing what we did. Everything worked almost to a T like we had hoped when we learned what we were up against. Those guys really helped us.’’
The Seahawks needed Smith’s roster spot to officially keep Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin on the roster for a day until the Jadeveon Clowney traded was completed. When the trade went through, Smith filled the open roster spot.
Seattle wanted two more spots to be able to keep tight end Ed Dickson on the initial 53-man roster and then put him on injured reserve, and also try to trade linebacker Austin Calitro.
By having been on the initial 53-man roster Saturday, Dickson can return after eight games. Had he been placed on IR on Saturday he would be out for the season. Dickson had knee surgery in early August and it’s unclear when he will be back, but the Seahawks obviously are holding out hope he can help in the second half of the season.
Calitro led the Seahawks with 25 tackles in the preseason but became expendable due to the progress of rookies Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven — Burr-Kirven might well have won a spot with the way he played in the final game against the Raiders when he had 12 tackles — as well as the fact that Shaquem Griffin does not have a serious knee injury.
Griffin played sparingly in the preseason and the team was worried he might have a significant issue, and if so the Seahawks would have wanted to keep Calitro.
Seattle also wanted to see if it might be able to get something for Calitro rather than just waiving him.
” Just (roster) numbers,” Carroll said of waiving Calitro. “We just couldn’t hold on to him. Wanted to. We loved him. He had a fantastic preseason for us and that was a real hard one. We couldn’t ask more of a guy.”
Bellore’s contract included $600,000 guaranteed at signing, which indicated the Seahawks had a role for him in 2019.
As for Brown, what’s unclear is if he returns at the same contract or something different.
Brown’s initial release was billed around the league as necessary for salary cap reasons to fit in Clowney — releasing Brown cleared out $2.75 million on the salary cap in what was the last year of a two-year deal worth up to $5.5 million he signed in 2018. That contract included a base salary of $800,000 for this season and a dead cap charge of $975,000 for the season that Seattle has to carry regardless of Brown’s return.
Without Brown, but with the Clowney trade accounted for, the Seahawks have $12.6 million in cap room, according to OvertheCap.com. That is based on Clowney taking up just $8.967 million in cap space after Houston agreed to pay $7 million of his salary for 2019.
Brown had tweeted what appeared to be a goodbye to Seattle shortly after the news broke of his release, stating: “Thank you Seattle! Fell in love with this city, fans and organization! Next chapter for me.”
Brown’s return gives Seattle seven receivers on its 53-man roster — Brown, Tyler Lockett, David Moore, Malik Turner, DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua.
However, Moore will not play against the Bengals after suffering a broken humerus a few weeks ago.
Metcalf still is recovering from minor knee surgery Aug. 20, but Carroll said he practiced Monday and continued to express optimism he will play against the Bengals.