RENTON — Going for two is a bold move in football. Going with two — quarterbacks that is — is another potentially risky decision, and it’s one the Seahawks made Friday when they trimmed their roster to 53 players.
By waiving Josh Portis, who made the roster last year as an undrafted rookie and served as Seattle’s third QB, the Seahawks are moving forward with just two quarterbacks — Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn — a move that is far from the norm in the NFL. If he clears waivers, Portis could be added to Seattle’s practice squad, giving the Seahawks at least a little security.
The release of Portis hardly qualified as a huge surprise, but it was one of the more interesting moves made Friday, along with the release of veteran receiver Deon Butler, as the Seahawks made their roster cuts.
Unlike most years, there were no big-name, high-priced veterans released, but several moves were at least somewhat unexpected.
Butler, a third-round pick in 2009, failed to stand out in training camp, and despite being one of Seattle’s fastest receivers he was beat out for a spot by journeyman receiver Charly Martin, a Walla Walla native who had a standout preseason. The Seahawks also released receivers Kris Durham, a fourth-round pick in 2011, and Ricardo Lockette, whose speed and big-play ability made him a fan favorite when he was added to the roster off the practice squad late last season.
Another somewhat surprising move was the decision to leave guard James Carpenter on the roster rather than on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Carpenter, last year’s first-round pick who suffered a serious knee injury midseason, has made progress in his recovery of late, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll noted this week, and is apparently close enough to returning that Seattle felt comfortable having him take up a roster spot (players on the PUP list have to sit out the first six games). As recently as July, Carroll said the team wasn’t sure Carpenter would play this season.
Linebacker Korey Toomer, a fifth-round pick out of Idaho, was the only member of this year’s draft class to miss the cut, though he’ll almost certainly end up on the practice squad if he clears waivers. Cornerback Jeremy Lane, a sixth-round pick, was thought to be on the bubble, but made the cut, most likely at the expense of Phillip Adams. Running back Kregg Lumpkin was another bubble player who made the roster. In addition to making their cuts, the Seahawks put cornerback Walter Thurmond on the PUP list and placed linebacker Matt McCoy on injured reserve.
Of course, getting to a 53-man roster doesn’t mean having an opening-day roster. With every team cutting 20-plus players Friday, there are plenty of intriguing prospects looking for work this weekend. The Seahawks made a ton of moves in the days after cut day in 2010, then made four changes last year, including the addition of current kicker Steven Hauschka.
While a move or two seems inevitable, it will be interesting to see if the roster churn slows this year under Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. While rebuilding the roster, Carroll and Schneider looked under every rock for talent that was better than what they had. After more than two years, they now have a roster much more to their liking.
“You can tell how much we’ve improved, depth wise on the roster, compared to where we were the last couple of years just by the speed on the football field and the guys playing so hard all the way throughout the four quarters,” Carroll said after Thursday’s preseason victory over Oakland. “… The depth on this team, it showed up.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.