RENTON — A week after Josh Gordon was claimed by only one team — the Seahawks — a receiver Seattle waived, rookie Gary Jennings, was claimed by the first team that had a chance, the Miami Dolphins.
Jennings, a fourth-round pick last April, was claimed by Miami Wednesday, a day after Seattle waived him in part because the Seahawks had an overabundance of receivers on their 53-man roster — eight — after adding Gordon last week.
Seattle had claimed Gordon with the 28th spot in the waiver order, and was the only team to put in a claim for him (Miami, by dint of having the worst record in the NFL, had the first crack at Jennings this week).
That might seem curious given Gordon’s obvious talent and productivity when available to play, while Jennings has yet to even suit up for an NFL game.
But it also speaks to the allure of the unknown. Miami, in full rebuild mode, is willing to take a chance on giving a 53-man roster spot to Jennings, who was the 120th overall pick in the draft this past April, in the hope of tapping into something that Seattle couldn’t — or didn’t have time to cultivate.
And it spells a quick end to the Seattle career of Jennings. The thought is the team wanted him back on its practice squad if he cleared waivers. But he didn’t.
And while Jennings could always return later if it doesn’t work out in Miami, that he was waived at all shows that the team didn’t see enough in his potential to not risk losing him.
The loss of Jennings also continues an odd trend of Seattle striking out with receivers taken in the upper middle part of the draft.
Jennings is now the fifth receiver taken in the John Schneider/Pete Carroll era — the two arrived in 2010 — drafted in either the late third or early fourth rounds (specifically, from picks 106 to 123) to basically do little as Seahawks and be gone long before their rookie contracts expired.
The others to come before Jennings on that list?
— Kris Durham, the 107th pick in 2010. He played in three games with three catches for 30 yards before being waived, later playing 24 more games with Lions and Titans over next three seasons before his career was over. That he was taken with a pick in between franchise all-timers K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman helps mitigate things.
— Chris Harper, the 123rd pick in 2013 who was cut by Seattle before the season even started (the highest pick of the Schneider/Carroll era to not make it to the regular season), and later played in four games with the Packers that season then never played in an NFL game again.
— Kevin Norwood, the 123rd pick of the 2014 draft, who had nine receptions as a rookie, then was traded to Carolina the following season and played in only one more game in his career.
— Amara Darboh, the 106th pick of the 2017 draft, who spent all of his rookie season on the roster, but made just eight catches. He has not played in a game since, and interestingly enough, was waived by Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the same day Seattle waived Jennings.
It’s not as if Seattle can’t identify receivers. Tyler Lockett was taken 69th overall in 2015 and is on his way to a career that figures to have him going down as one of the best receivers in team history. And Seattle made an aggressive move this year (as it also did with Lockett) to move up and take DK Metcalf at the end of the second round, 64th overall. Metcalf is on his way to the best receiving season by a rookie in team history.
The Seahawks also found Doug Baldwin as an undrafted free agent in 2011, Golden Tate in the second round in 2010, and 2014 second-rounder Paul Richardson was serviceable enough during his Seattle career.
It’s probably just one of those weird draft quirks, though if there is any commonality it’s that each went to a pretty big-time school (Durham, Georgia; Harper, Kansas State; Norwood, Alabama; Darboh, Michigan; Jennings, West Virginia) where maybe college production was aided by a good offense that helped mask issues that stunted their NFL careers (though obviously in the case of Jennings, it’s too early to yet say he won’t have an NFL career.)
The other commonality is that the drafting of each was greeted with the usual high expectations.
Jennings engendered even a little bit more due to a preexisting relationship with quarterback Russell Wilson dating to grade school that heightened the idea he could make a quick adjustment to the Seahawks.
But Jennings never found his footing in Seattle.
Jennings arrived with a hamstring injury suffered in the lead-up to the draft and missed much of Seattle’s offseason program, practice time that he may have needed even more than some receivers since he came out of an Air Raid-type offense that is nothing like what the Seahawks run, and regarded as far less complicated in terms of what is asked of receivers (something Schneider acknowledged on draft day, saying “coming out of that offense, there are always questions.”)
But even once healthy Jennings struggled to make much of an impact in training camp, save for one day when he was basically the star, earning a shoutout from Wilson — who had helped coach a youth basketball team that Jennings and Wilson’s sister played on in Richmond, Virginia.
“He really needed it, I think, just being honest with you,” Wilson said that day. “Just to make some plays and get the ball in his hands. One, to show to himself that he can be great in this league, hopefully. And two, I think ultimately just to (show) the team and everything else.”
Jennings, though, struggled to build on that — he had only one catch for 12 yards in the preseason — and was never active for any regular-season games.
Now he’s off to Miami, hoping he can prove that maybe Seattle didn’t get it wrong in drafting him, but just ran out of time to find out.