So now comes the really hard work for Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
The minute Thursday night’s 17-15 preseason finale win against the Raiders ended, Carroll, Schneider and the rest of the team’s scouts began making the final calls on who to keep and who to cut.
As is the case most seasons and with most teams, the reality is that most of the calls were made long ago, which is why both the Seahawks and Raiders suited up barely more than half of their players Thursday.
But the decisions that remain figure to keep Schneider and Carroll and the rest relatively sleepless in Seattle for most of the next few days. The cutdown to 53 must be made by 1 p.m. Saturday, but then the Seahawks will begin to pore over the list of those cut by other teams to see if there’s anyone they want, and then try to quickly assemble their own 10-man practice squad — those players can begin signing on Sunday.
Here’s my last updated look at how I think it may all come together.
Keep: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith.
Cut: Paxton Lynch, J.T. Barrett.
Comment: Smith solidified things with his performance against the Raiders Thursday and the Seahawks waived Lynch on Friday. The Seahawks would probably like to keep Lynch on the practice squad if he goes unclaimed.
Keep: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, Nick Bellore, Travis Homer.
Cut: J.D. McKissic, Xavier Turner, Bo Scarbrough.
Comment: No change from last week. Prosise entered camp not only on the bubble but sliding off of it when he missed the first two games with injuries. But his performance in the last two games keeps him around. There will be a role for Bellore once the regular season begins, and Homer is not only depth but a player who will fill a lot of special teams snaps out of this position group. Turner was waived Friday.
Keep: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings, David Moore, Jaron Brown, John Ursua.
Cut: Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright, Malik Turner, Keenan Reynolds, Kahlil Lewis, Nyqwan Murray.
Comment: I went back and forth on this and ended up right where I was last week — keeping the same six. One reason is that, for now, the Seahawks will need six receivers due to the injuries to Moore and Metcalf — the Seahawks will have to account for the possibility of only four being healthy week one. And while Jennings did little in the preseason, it might be tough for the Seahawks to give up on a fourth-round pick just yet — if he were waived he’d be highest-drafted player in the Carroll/Schneider era waived prior to the regular season. Ferguson, Wright, Turner, Reynolds would all be practice squad candidates.
Keep: Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, Jacob Hollister.
Cut: Ed Dickson, Jackson Harris, Wes Saxton.
Comment: No change here, either, though since Dickson is hurt, he can’t just be cut, instead maybe headed to IR. Carroll talked up Hollister prior to the Oakland game and then he came through with a touchdown catch on the kind of play that has intrigued the team about him all along. And given the injuries at receiver, having a tight end that is as much receiver as blocker could be helpful.
Keep: Duane Brown, D.J. Fluker, Justin Britt, Mike Iupati, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Ethan Pocic, Jamarco Jones, Marcus Martin.
Cut: Joey Hunt, Landon Turner, Brian Wallace, Jordan Roos, Elijah Nkansah, Jordan Simmons, Will Holden.
Physically unable to perform (PUP) list: Phil Haynes.
Comment: A few changes here this week, largely health-related. I’m back to having nine OL to help account for the uncertainty of Mike Iupati and Joey Hunt, which will have Ethan Pocic the likely starter at left guard to start the season and mean that the team maybe can’t count on him to be the backup center, if needed. Hunt could have been the backup center but he has a high ankle sprain. It’s unclear exactly how long he’ll be out. But if he’s sidelined for any extended time, then the Seahawks may need to keep around Martin, who went the whole way at center against the Raiders and has 21 career starts at center with the 49ers in 2014 and 2015. And Jones also hops back on after his return to health and action against the Raiders. The Seahawks say Fant will be back for the opener from the ankle sprain he suffered early on. But Jones would help cover for Fant needing more time, as well as also being a player that other teams might find attractive. Haynes will remain on the PUP list and then will be eligible to come off after six games.
Keep: Ezekiel Ansah, L.J. Collier, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Rasheem Green, Cassius Marsh, Jacob Martin, Jamie Meder.
Cut: Branden Jackson, Barkevious Mingo. Bryan Mone, Earl Mitchell, Logan Tago.
Suspended list: Jarran Reed.
PUP list: Demarcus Christmas.
Comment: I made a few changes here, too, due in part to the encouraging news about Ansah, who Carroll said again Thursday is expected to be ready for the season opener. Collier also appears close to returning. So that has me keeping just nine defensive linemen, on the assumption at least eight will be ready week one. I also now am cutting Mingo and his $3.4 million salary — if Ansah is truly back then that helps make Mingo that much more expendable, as well as the fact that Mingo didn’t seem to make a big impact in the preseason. I’m also going with Meder after he had a nice game against the Raiders, keeping him instead of Jackson to give Seattle another run-down tackle (though it’d be no surprise if they kept Mitchell instead of Meder to fill the same role). With Collier apparently back sooner rather than later, Seattle should have enough depth at end to start out. And as has happened the last two years, Jackson could be a guy who returns eventually after being waived initially.
Keep: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Austin Calitro, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven.
Cut: Shaquem Griffin, Justin Currie, Jawuan Johnson, Juwon Young.
Comment: I’m keeping the same six here as last week, with Burr-Kirven making it even more obvious after his 12-tackle performance against the Raiders. As for Griffin, his knee issue seems to indicate a possible — if not likely — IR stint. So, I’m not predicting the end of his Seattle career for now just that he may not be around this season. Without Mingo and Griffin, though, Barton would likely have to be the backup strongside linebacker to Kendricks. He played some there early in camp and got at least one snap there Thursday.
Keep: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Jamar Taylor.
Cut: Jeremy Boykins, Simeon Thomas.
Comment: No change here from last week, either. It was obviously interesting that DeShawn Shead played so much at corner on Thursday and made you wonder if the Seahawks would consider keeping Shead as a corner instead of King or Taylor. But that Shead also played the entire game — moving to safety for the final few series — and on special teams throughout also seemed a potentially ominous sign. He could be a player Seattle releases now but keeps on call for later. Taylor for now appears to be the starting nickel (Carroll said he had no injury, though he came up slowly at one point in the second half) and Thorpe was one of the most interesting guys not to play at all Thursday, the team giving him the same status as a starter. But it will also be no surprise if the Seahawks keep their eyes open for nickel corners to bring in from the outside.
Keep: Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi, Lano Hill.
Cut: DeShawn Shead, Shalom Luani.
Comment: No change here, either. Shead is the really tough call and maybe I’m reading it wrong that he played so much Thursday, but to me it sort of seemed like the team looking for more evidence to keep him rather than simply giving him some snaps. The wildcard is Blair’s hip pointer injury — if that’s serious at all then that could change the alignment here and put Shead back on (one thought — the team keeps Blair on the initial 53 and cuts Shead, then puts Blair on IR so he can come back later in the season and re-signs Shead). And I know many will question keeping Hill instead of Shead. But Carroll has spoken so enthusiastically over how Hill played the final two games of last season it seems unlikely the team would give up on him just yet. Amadi makes it as a core special teamer and jack-of-all-trades in the secondary. And any question about Thompson being the starter week one was answered when he lined up with the starting unit in pregames and then got the treatment of the rest of the starters of putting on a hat and watching from the sidelines.
Keep: PK Jason Myers, P Michael Dickson, LS Tyler Ott.
Comment: The special teams battery has been set for months.