Seattle will likely start Austin Calitro at weakside linebacker Sunday against Rams.
Mychal Kendricks, who has been the Seahawks’ primary weakside linebacker the last three games in place of injured K.J. Wright, has been suspended indefinitely, according to the official NFL transactions, as reported by multiple national media outlets Tuesday afternoon.
The Seahawks on Tuesday also officially placed Earl Thomas and Will Dissly on Injured Reserve. Thomas broke his left tibia Sunday, while Dissly suffered a patellar tendon injury against the Cardinals.
That creates three openings on the team’s 53-man active roster as Seattle begins preparing for a visit from the undefeated Los Angeles Rams this Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
The Seahawks announced Tuesday afternoon that no corresponding moves to fill any roster spots had yet been made but a few appeared to come to light via social media, with free agent safeties Maurice Alexander — who was in training camp with the Seahawks before being released in the cutdown to 53 — and T.J. Green (who had 11 starts the past two seasons with the Colts) each reported as working out with Seattle and then each sending out tweets that indicated they had signed.
The Seahawks knew a decision was coming on Kendricks as the NFL reviewed his case after he pleaded guilty to an insider trading charge last month.
But the NFL informed Seattle on Tuesday each the last two weeks that Kendricks could play as the league continued to sort things out.
Tuesday, though, came word of the suspension and Kendricks cannot play until further notice, so Seattle will have to turn elsewhere for a weakside linebacker. How long Kendricks might be out is unknown — there is no precedent for NFL punishment for someone who committed this specific crime. But it’s possible Kendricks is done for the season.
Wright has missed the first four games following surgery on his knee to fix an injury that occurred in the preseason against Minnesota and it’s unclear if he can play against the Rams.
Carroll said Monday that Wright was “stepping up his workouts. We’ll know more later in the week here (as to) where he is, but he is running and so he’s on the road back now. I can’t tell you when that’s going to happen.”
That means Seattle may have to turn to Austin Calitro, who played that position for much of the opener against Denver. Rookie Shaquem Griffin is also a backup at weakside linebacker and Seattle last week signed former Husky Azeem Victor to the practice squad last week, so he could be an option to provide depth at that spot, as well.
Kendricks was released by the Browns following his guilty plea on the insider trading charge. Seattle signed Kendricks after some struggles at the WLB spot in the Denver game, and with Bobby Wagner also out against Chicago. Calitro started at middle linebacker against the Bears while Kendricks started at weakside linebacker.
Wagner returned against Dallas and started alongside Kendricks inside the last two weeks.
Kendricks was sixth on the team with 15 tackles and also had two sacks in three games, and Carroll said Monday that the Seahawks may have gotten more out of him than expected considering that he was signed five days before he had to play in his first game against Chicago.
“I think he’s really a good ball player,” Carroll said Monday of Kendricks. ” We’ll miss him if he doesn’t get to play with us, but while we have him, we’re going to continue to work him.”
Kendricks is scheduled to be sentenced in January. While suspended he remains the property of the Seahawks but he does not earn his weekly salary and does not count against the team’s active roster. Kendricks had signed a one-year deal for a pro-rated share of the veteran minimum of $790,000, or $46,470 per week.
A report from the NFL Network stated that Kendricks had been appealing an initial ruling of a suspension and that Carroll spoke on his behalf.
Shortly after the news broke, Kendricks tweeted, “My faith is unwavering as I continue to pray.”
When asked about playing with a possible suspension hanging over his head, Kendricks said only that he was letting his advisors handle any NFL and legal matters, and he was thankful for any opportunities to play in the meantime.
As for Thomas, going on IR essentially ends his season. By rule he could return after eight games, but his injury is considered one that would not heal in time for a regular season return.
Thomas can become an unrestricted free agent in March.
Dissly’s injury is considered long term and there is no chance he can play again in 2018.
Carroll said Monday that Tedric Thompson will move into Thomas’ starting spot at free safety. But putting Thomas on IR left Seattle with just four safeties and Alexander has emerged as the fifth safety Seattle might add.
Alexander started 23 games for the Rams at safety from 2015-17 before being waived by Los Angeles last fall. Alexander also played at weakside linebacker for Seattle in its final preseason game against the Raiders. The Seahawks might consider that he could fill that spot in an emergency if needed, which might mean they don’t need to add another linebacker for now if Wright is expected back in a week or two.
Alexander seemed to indicate Tuesday afternoon he’d re-signed with Seattle when he tweeted simply “Geeked” after having re-tweeted a story that he was getting “a recall” by the Seahawks.
Green, a second-round pick in 2016 who started 11 games the last two seasons before being waived as injured in August with a hamstring injury, also had a reported workout with Seattle and he tweeted on Tuesday, “Honored to be a Seahawk.” The 6-3, 211-pounder had 63 tackles with the Colts. (And worth noting Green would have practice squad eligibility).
Seattle also will add at least one tight end to fill Dissly’s spot. Carroll indicated the most likely options are Darrell Daniels and Marcus Lucas, currently on the practice squad. Daniels was on the active roster the first three games before being waived and re-signed to the practice squad last week when Seattle added defensive end Branden Jackson to the 53-man roster.
The Seahawks are also expecting to get free agent signee Ed Dickson back following their bye week and prior to their seventh game against Detroit on Oct. 28. Dickson had to miss the first six games after being placed on the Non-Football Injury list with a quad injury suffered in offseason conditioning.
Dickson indicated he’ll be back for the Lions game with a tweet Tuesday stating: 10/28/18.