By Bob Condotta
The Seattle Times
With their offseason program complete, the Seattle Seahawks’ next appearance on the practice field will be for the start of training camp in late July.
That’s when the fight for roster spots really begins.
The Seahawks have the NFL offseason maximum of 90 players on their roster. Like all NFL teams, they have to cut down to 53 players on Aug. 31 for the start of the regular season. What might Seattle’s roster look like on Aug. 31?
Here’s one observer’s guess.
Keep: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith.
Cut: Paxton Lynch.
Comment: The Smith-Lynch battle for the backup job will make preseason games fun to watch. For now, I’m giving the edge to Smith based on head coach Pete Carroll’s comments that Smith’s experience was evident during the offseason program.
Keep: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, J.D. McKissic, Nick Bellore.
Cut: C.J. Prosise, Bo Scarbrough, Marcelias Sutton.
Comment: Prosise’s injury history can’t be ignored and obviously he has to stay healthy to make the team. If he does, this could be a tougher call than some might think. He’s got an impressive skill set that the team has seen on the field just enough to keep him around this long. And Seattle might think it could sneak Homer through to the practice squad. But the thought here is that if Homer shows what the team thinks he will, then this could come down to a Prosise/McKissic question, and then the nod might go to McKissic because of his return ability and overall dependability. Bellore is the only fullback on the roster. Given the likely big special-teams role he’ll have, he seems almost certain to make the roster.
Keep: Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, Jacob Hollister.
Cut: Ed Dickson, Tyrone Swoopes, Justin Johnson.
Comment: With lineman George Fant continuing his role as a de facto tight end, Seattle won’t keep more than three actual tight ends. If healthy — and the team expects him to be — Dissly is a lock. The other two spots, though, are far from certain. Hollister’s impressive offseason makes him a viable candidate, especially since Seattle may want a tight end who is more of a receiver to pair with Fant, who can handle a lot of the blocking from that position. That could allow Seattle to cut Dickson and save $2.68 million against the salary cap this year, though releasing him also would mean the Seahawks end up paying $3.6 million for just 10 regular-season games plus another in the playoffs.
Keep: Duane Brown, D.J. Fluker, Justin Britt, Mike Iupati, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jarmarco Jones, Phil Haynes, Ethan Pocic.
Cut: Joey Hunt, Marcus Martin, Demetrius Knox, Jordan Roos, Elijah Nkansah, Jordan Simmons.
Comment: The starting five plus Fant are locks. But how Seattle fills out the rest of the spots will be intriguing. Pocic got ample work at center throughout OTAs and minicamp, and his ability to play all three spots could keep him on the roster, with the Seahawks still hoping he can fulfill the promise that led them to draft him in the second round in 2017. Haynes has impressed so far and could be a backup at both guard spots while being groomed to take over for one of the vets in a year or so. Jones showed a lot early on last year and Seattle may want to keep him around with Ifedi’s status beyond this year uncertain. Hunt has always been a favorite of the coaches, but if they feel comfortable with Pocic as a backup center, it might be hard to keep him.
Keep: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings, David Moore, Jaron Brown.
Cut: Amara Darboh, John Ursua, Terry Wright, Caleb Scott, Malik Turner, Keenan Reynolds, Jazz Ferguson.
Comment: The Seahawks may be tempted to keep at least six receivers. But if they keep McKissic and Hollister, as I have them doing, they have some players at other spots who can fill receiving roles, if needed, which has me for the moment keeping a ninth offensive lineman and a fifth running back, instead. One question will be if they view Jennings as able to back up Lockett in the slot, and if players such as Ursua and Darboh show enough that they feel compelled to keep them. Wright and Ferguson seem natural fits for the practice squad.
Keep: Ezekiel Ansah, Jarran Reed, L.J. Collier, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson, Rasheem Green, Cassius Marsh, Jamie Meder.
Cut: Branden Jackson, Nazair Jones, Demarcus Christmas, Jay-Tee Tiuli, Bryan Mone.
Comment: The Seahawks are calling both Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin linebackers, so I will, too. But if they both make the team — as I’m predicting — they will play significantly in rush-end roles. And that will influence how Seattle fills out its line. But for now, I have them keeping nine listed DLs — Ansah and Marsh as the primary LEOs, Jefferson, Green and Collier as the main five-tech ends, and Reed, Ford, Meder and Woods as the tackles. The tough call here is Jones, who showed a lot of promise as a rookie in 2017 and will get every chance in camp this year to show he can rebound after a tough 2018.
Keep: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Jacob Martin, Barkevious Mingo, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven.
Cut: Shaquem Griffin, Justin Currie, Emmanuel Ellerbee, Austin Calitro.
Comment: Wagner, Wright and Kendricks look set as the starting three. Carroll’s revelation last week that the Seahawks want to use Mingo more as a pass rusher this year would seem to increase his chances of making the team — at least until they know for sure how ready Ansah will be for the start of the season and how some of the younger players (such as Martin) progress. But the fact the Seahawks could save $4.1 million against the cap if Mingo is released means he will have to show he can make a significant impact as a pass rusher. That he was one of Seattle’s most important special-teams players last season means he will be given every chance. Barton and Burr-Kirven are the future at the position and for now backups at middle linebacker and weakside linebacker, respectively. So, yes, that has me for now making the hard call on Griffin, who is being tried in a hybrid role as a strongside linebacker in the base defense and on the weakside in the nickel.
Keep: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe.
Cut: Jeremy Boykins, Derrek Thomas, Jamar Taylor, Davante Davis, Simeon Thomas, Kalan Reed.
Comment: The Seahawks often keep five corners, but if Ugo Amadi shows he can help as both a backup safety and as a nickel back, then maybe they could get away with just four “true” corners. But if Amadi doesn’t seem ready to be the backup nickel to King, then Reed and/or Taylor might be kept.
Keep: Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson, Lano Hill, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi, Shalom Luani.
Cut: Marwin Evans, Jalen Harvey.
Comment: I’m keeping six here but doing so on the assumption that Amadi is essentially the backup nickel when the season rolls around. Seattle could well go with five corners and five safeties — or even four safeties, as they have done in the past — which could require some hard calls on players Seattle has made some significant investments in. Blair is a lock to make the roster but one key will be how ready he is to playing immediately. If he were to win a starting job, Seattle could more easily move on from Thompson or Luani.
Keep: PK Jason Myers, P Michael Dickson, LS Tyler Ott.
Comment: These are the only kicker, punter and snapper the Seahawks have on the roster, so the special-teams lineup is set.