RENTON — With last year’s starting right tackle in New York with the Jets, and one of the two people expected to compete for the job now in Cleveland, the Seattle Seahawks are more unsettled at that position than ever.
But apparently they’re not too broken up over the loss of tackle Michael Bowie, who was claimed off of waivers by Cleveland over the weekend. Not based off what Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Monday.
The Seahawks knew Bowie needed shoulder surgery and would miss the season. But Seattle could have assured it kept the player’s rights beyond this season had they been willing to keep him on the 90-man roster for a few more weeks before placing him on injured reserve. Instead they took their chances and waived/injured Bowie — he would have reverted to injured reserve had he cleared waivers — and the Cleveland Browns decided to claim the former seventh-round pick who started eight games as a rookie.
Players with fewer than four years of service time cannot be placed on injured reserve before the first round of roster cuts, which occurs on Aug. 26 this year. So keeping Bowie without subjecting him to waivers would have meant using a 90-man roster spot on an injured player for another three weeks, something the Seahawks weren’t willing to do for Bowie, but the Browns were.
Asked about that decision Monday, Carroll gave a brief, but telling answer about the team’s feeling about Bowie.
“That’s the decision we made,” Carroll said of using the waive/injured designation, before adding, unsolicited, “He came in 20 pounds overweight too.”
It’s pretty routine for teams to waive/injure young players who aren’t starters. They did the same with second-year defensive tackle Jesse Williams last week and he went unclaimed. But what’s not normal, especially not for the always-positive Carroll, is to volunteer that a player was “20 pounds overweight” without being asked anything about that player’s weight or conditioning.
That’s a pretty clear sign that the Seahawks weren’t happy with Bowie, who was expected to compete for the starting job at right tackle with rookie Justin Britt.
So now what? Before camp opened, Bowie and Britt, a second-round pick, were the two candidates to replace Breno Giacomini, who signed with the Jets in free agency. The competition isn’t over with Bowie gone, however. The Seahawks signed veteran right tackle Eric Winston last week. And on Sunday claimed another tackle, Cory Brandon, off waivers from Arizona, though Brandon more likely is competing to make the roster as a backup than he is for a starting job.
Alvin Bailey is another name to watch at right tackle now that Russell Okung is easing back into things — the left tackle was limited in practice after missing the first week and a half of camp while recovering from offseason foot surgery. Bailey has been working with the first team at left tackle in Okung’s absence, but once Okung is a full-go, that will free up Bailey to join the competition on the right side.
“It’s a big competition going on, and there has been since the start of camp,” Carroll said. “… This is a very competitive situation with Britt and (Eric) Winston in there, and I think Alvin Bailey will be mixed into this thing too eventually. It’s a really good spot for us in that we do have depth and competition, but unfortunately Mike wasn’t able to hang with us. It’s unfortunate he had to go.
“Alvin’s got the flexibility to play a couple different spots. He has played guard a little bit too. He’s a valuable spot in that regard.”
With Bailey perhaps factoring into another position battle and with two new additions over the past few days — Brandon and veteran guard Wade Smith, who has started every game over the last four season for Houston — Carroll said the Seahawks will take their time sorting out the offensive line. Smith played primarily left guard on his first day with Seattle, while Brandon took reps at left tackle.
“We’re hoping that Wade Smith and Cory Brandon can bring us something,” Carroll said. “We want to continue to work to make this position as competitive as possible. We’ve got a lot of young guys in this spot. Wade in particular brings a lot of experience and tremendous flexibility — he has started at all five spots — so that flexibility might fit with us. He’s a good guy and a smart guy and all of that. That helps us as we try to mold this thing together. We have flexibility how we’re going to do it and we’re going to take our time figuring it out.”