Jacob Eason and Myles Gaskin will be the ones flying the Snohomish County flag in the NFL this season, at least for now.
The deadline for NFL teams to cut their rosters to 53 players in advance of the 2021 season was Tuesday, and two Snohomish County products — Eason and Gaskin — made their teams’ initial rosters. Eason, a Lake Stevens High School graduate, has been announced as the Indianapolis Colts’ backup quarterback. Gaskin, a Lynnwood native and O’Dea High School graduate, is expected to start at running back for the Miami Dolphins.
The season opens Sept. 9 when the Dallas Cowboys face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Three other Snohomish County natives didn’t survive cutdown day. Jake Luton, a quarterback from Marysville Pilchuck High School, was waived by the Jacksonville Jaguars; Devante Downs, a linebacker from Mountlake Terrace High School, was waived by the New York Giants; and KeiVarae Russell, a cornerback from Mariner High School, was released by the New Orleans Saints.
Tuesday wasn’t the end of the line for Luton, Downs and Russell. Luton and Downs are subject to waivers until 1 p.m.Wednesday. If they are not claimed by another team during the waiver period, they become free agents and are eligible to be added to teams’ 16-player practice squads. Russell, because he’s accrued four years of service time, is not subject to waivers and became a free agent immediately. He is also eligible to be signed onto a practice squad.
Eason is entering his second NFL season after being selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft out of the University of Washington. Eason did not dress for a game last season as he was the third-string quarterback behind Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett. Rivers retired and Brissett signed as a free agent with Miami, while the Colts traded for Carson Wentz to be their starter. Eason was solid during the preseason, going 41-for-62 for 389 yards. His battle with rookie Sam Ehlinger for the backup spot, which was leaning Eason’s way, was effectively decided when Ehlinger suffered a sprained knee in the Colts’ preseason finale.
There was talk of Eason getting the start when Indianapolis opens the season by hosting the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 12, as Wentz recently underwent foot surgery. However, Wentz recovered quickly and now is hoping to be ready for the opener.
Gaskin, who’s going into his third season after being selected in the seventh round of the 2019 draft out of Washington, was one of three running backs kept by the Dolphins. Gaskin emerged as Miami’s top option last season, starting seven of the 10 games he appeared in and leading Miami in rushing with 584 yards on 142 carries with three touchdowns, while adding 41 receptions for 388 yards and two more scores.
Gaskin saw limited time in the preseason, carrying 10 times for 46 yards and a touchdown and catching five passes for 47 yards and another TD.
Luton, who was a sixth-round pick by the Jaguars in 2020, was beat out by C.J. Beathard for the backup spot behind first-overall draft selection Trey Lawrence, despite an impressive display during preseason in which he went 24-for-31 for 190 yards with two touchdowns. Reports suggest Luton, who started three games for Jacksonville last season, is a candidate to be signed to the Jaguars’ practice squad.
Downs, a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft by the Minnesota Vikings, started eight of New York’s 16 games last season, recording 33 tackles. He was second on the Giants in tackles during the preseason with 16.
Russell, originally a third-round pick in the 2016 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, signed with the Saints in August following a tryout. Russell, who spent most of last season on the Green Bay Packers’ practice squad, didn’t appear during the preseason, first because he was placed on the COVID-19 list, then because New Orleans’ final preseason game was canceled because of the approach of Hurricane Ida.