The Seahawks on Tuesday waived center Patrick Lewis, who started nine games last season.
Patrick Lewis, Seattle’s starting center for much of last season, was waived Tuesday among several other moves the team made to get to the NFL mandated 75-player limit and which further indicated the Seahawks are close to settling on their offensive line.
The Seahawks also announced they had waived as injured wide receiver Kevin Smith, running back George Farmer, cornerback Trovon Reed and defensive end Josh Shirley while also waiving running back Zac Brooks, linebackers Quayshawn Nealy and Pete Robertson and offensive lineman Kristjan Sokoli. Combined with moves the Seahawks made on Monday, which included the release of veteran defensive back Brandon Browner, the team is now at 75 players.
The Seahawks, like all NFL teams, will have to get to the regular season limit of 53 on Saturday, after playing their final preseason game Thursday night in Oakland.
The waiving of Lewis apparently means rookie Joey Hunt will be the backup center to starter Justin Britt, who was moved to that position in the spring and has been the No. 1 center through, solidifying the job with a strong preseason. The Seahawks could also consider using Will Pericak, who has played mostly guard in the preseason, as a backup center, as well.
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“He’s playing great football, big minutes, and he’s always rode up to the occasion,” quarterback Russell Wilson said Tuesday. “He’s doing that so far and our line looks really good right now. They’re stout as can be, strong, quick guys, smart and intelligent.”
The Seahawks went 6-3 in Lewis’ starts last season, which included each of the last seven games when Seattle went on an offensive explosion to rally and get back into the playoffs.
The Seahawks thought enough of Lewis that they awarded him a tender offer as a restricted free agent that gave Seattle the right to match any offer he might receive from another team, which came with a salary of $1.67 million if he made the final roster, which gave the indication the team viewed him as a strong candidate to be the starting center this season.
Lewis, in fact, entered training camp as the only player on the Seattle roster to play center in an NFL game.
But with the emergence of Britt, who played left guard last season before being moved to center, the Seahawks apparently decided that was more than they needed to pay a backup center — and since none of it was guaranteed the team will save all of it against the salary cap giving the team a little added financial flexibility as they enter the final week of the preseason, a time when players cut by other teams are often added to the roster, and trades are also commonly made.
Hunt is due to make $475,000, so assuming he earns the job as the backup the Seahawks will save almost $1.2 million on their second center spot.
The Seahawks had been trying to trade Lewis and he had not practiced with the team this week.
Hunt said after practice Tuesday that he wasn’t taking any roster spot for granted.
“I’m just trying to get better every day,” he said. “Just control my play and just do what I can do and do what they ask us to do. So that’s all I’ve been trying to do is get better every day.”
A 6-2, 299-pounder from TCU, Hunt was taken in the sixth round of the 2016 draft with the 215th overall selection. At TCU he played with Trevone Boykin, who appears in line to be Seattle’s backup quarterback to Russell Wilson.
The waiving of Lewis and Sokoli leaves the Seahawks with 12 offensive linemen — the team could keep as many as 10.
But while who makes the final roster remains in question, the starting five seems increasingly set except for one spot — right tackle, where Garry Gilliam is competing with J’Marcus Webb. Britt is now set at center with Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi at guards and Bradley Sowell appearing to have just about sewn up the left tackle spot.
“Feel like the inside three is pretty solid,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said after practice Tuesday (though before the waiving of Lewis was announced). “And Brad has done a nice job at left tackle. Still taking a long look at the right tackle spot right now and we’ll give both of those guys an opportunity to continue to compete for it and we’ll see how it all shakes out.”
The four players waived as injured could revert to Seattle’s Injured Reserve list if they clear waivers. Smith and Shirley each played at the University of Washington.
Smith had been bothered by a hamstring injury throughout camp. He played last Thursday against Dallas in his only preseason action but did not make any receptions. Smith played in seven games for the Seahawks last season making three receptions and also played in each playoff game with two catches for 21 yards.
Farmer had been seeing significant time of late, particularly as a third-down back. He apparently suffered an injury in practice on Monday.
It’s unclear what the injury was to Shirley. He had also not practiced this week.