RENTON — The setting of the Seahawks’ initial 53-man roster Tuesday and what happened in practice after did little to settle the questions that hover over the cornerback positions.
Seattle had just four players listed as corners on its initial 53-man roster — Ahkello Witherspoon, Tre Flowers, Tre Brown and D.J. Reed.
Another will be added soon — former Husky Sidney Jones, acquired in a trade with Jacksonville on Monday for a sixth-round pick in 2022. Jones was not on the roster on Tuesday because the trade was not yet official, though it had been announced by the teams and the NFL. His arrival should be official Wednesday.
That Seattle traded for Jones, though, shows that the team is still far from secure in what it has at cornerback.
Proof that the experimenting to find the best combination doesn’t appear to be over came when Reed revealed to the media following practice that he has been moved to the left side.
Reed finished last year as the starter on the right side and began camp as the presumptive starter there before he suffered a hip strain that prevented him from playing in any preseason games.
With Reed out, Flowers worked as the starter on the right side with Witherspoon consistently the starter on the left.
And Reed made it sound as if Flowers may remain as the starter there for now.
“Today they moved me to left corner so Tre’s at right,’’ Reed said, clarifying later that he meant Flowers and not Brown.
Asked if the move is permanent, Reed said he was under the impression that it is.
“From what I can tell that’s probably what I’m doing right now,’’ said Reed, who added that he now feels fully healed from the hip strain, which occurred during a routine practice drill.
Left unsaid was whether that means Reed is the starter on the left side or backing up Witherspoon.
Witherspoon, who spent the last four years with the 49ers, signed a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $4 million in the spring which seemed to indicate strongly the team was planning on him being the starter there.
Witherspoon’s main competition on the left side in camp was veteran Damarious Randall, who was released on Tuesday.
Brown also played there — seeing all 72 of his snaps in two preseason games at left corner, according to Pro Football Focus.
But he missed the last week and the final preseason game with a knee injury. Carroll said he should be ready for the season but also acknowledged that Brown’s injury was part of why the team traded with Houston for John Reid. Reid, though, was also released on Tuesday after playing left corner in the final preseason game, which will allow Seattle to keep the conditional 2023 seventh-round pick it sent to Houston for him.
Unclear is exactly where Jones fits. He was used mostly at nickel in 2018 and 2019 with the Eagles and then started three games at both the right side and left side last year with Jacksonville. Carroll did not speak to the media Tuesday to help clear things up.
The left side has typically been viewed as the more important of the two positions in Seattle’s defense since most quarterbacks are right-handed. It’s where Richard Sherman and Shaquill Griffin played during their Seattle careers.
Seattle deciding not to try to match the three-year deal worth up to $40 million that Jacksonville gave Griffin helped create the uncertainty that the Seahawks are facing now.
The one sure thing Seattle had at corner entering camp seemed to be Reed on the right side. He started the final five games of last season there, a period during which the Seahawks became one of best statistical defenses in the NFL after spending the first half as one of the worst.
Flowers started all of the 2019 season on the right side and started six games there last year, as well. But some regarded him as being on the bubble heading into camp and a likely backup this year, at best.
But he earned consistent praise throughout camp from Carroll, who said he was the best he’s been in hi Seahawks career.
Flowers played 76 snaps at right corner in the preseason and allowed three receptions on three targets for 41 yards, one of which was a five-yard completion on a third-and-six play.
Witherspoon also played substantially in the preseason, which indicated that his starting job was far from secure. According to Pro Football Focus he allowed three receptions on eight targets for 53 yards in 66 snaps.
Jones’ arrival, and the move of Reed, shows that while the roster may be set, the competition continues.