By Bob Condotta
The Seattle Times
The offseason program completed, the next time the Seahawks step on the field in late July for training camp the fight for roster spots will truly begin.
The Seahawks have the NFL offseason maximum of 90 players on their roster.
Like all NFL teams, they will have to cut down to 53 on Aug. 31 for the start of the regular season (and recall that there is now only one roster cutdown date after a rules change in 2017 eliminated a cut to 75 before the final exhibition games).
What might Seattle’s roster look like on Aug. 31?
Here’s one guess in my latest Seahawks’ 53-man roster projection.
♦ Keep: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith.
♦ Cut: Paxton Lynch.
♦ Comment: The Smith-Lynch battle for the backup job — as well as for each of the former high draft picks to revive their careers — will make exhibition games fun to watch throughout. For now, I’m giving the edge to Smith based on coach Pete Carroll’s comments this week 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: The tough call here is Prosise and who to keep as Seattle’s third-down running back. Prosise’s injury history can’t be ignored and obviously he has to stay healthy to make the team. But 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 and given the likely big special-teams role he’ll have, he seems pretty certain to make it.
♦ Keep: Will Dissly, Nick Vannett, Jacob Hollister.
♦ Cut: Ed Dickson, Tyrone Swoopes, Justin Johnson.
♦ Comment: With 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 — then Dissly is a lock. The other two spots, though, are far from certain, and Hollister’s impressive offseason makes him a viable candidate, especially since Seattle may side with wanting a tight end who is more of a receiver to pair with Fant able to handle a lot of 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 would also mean the Seahawks ended up paying him $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 fun to watch. Pocic got some 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 to see if he can fulfill the promise that compelled them to draft him in the second round in 2017. Haynes has impressed so far and could be a backup at both guard spots and groomed to take over for one of the vets within 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 real favorite of the coaches but if they feel comfortable with Pocic as a backup center it might be hard to keep him again.
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 OL and a fifth RB, 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 (recall that Darboh was claimed off waivers last year when he was cut when Seattle hoped he’d slip through to the practice squad, before he failed a physical and was returned). Players such as Wright and Ferguson would 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 as linebackers, so I will, too. But if each makes it — as I’m predicting here — each 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 on 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 it — 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 to warrant keeping. 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 MLB and WLB. So yes, that has me for now making the hard call on Griffin, who is being tried in a hybrid role as an SLB in the base defense and WLB in the nickel. And it’s worth remembering that Calitro was ahead of Griffin in the pecking order at the end of last season but also figures to have a hard time making it again this year.
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 nickel then maybe they could get away with just four “true” corners. But if Amadi doesn’t seem ready yet 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. But Seattle could well go with five corners and five safeties — or even just four safeties, as they have done in the past — which could require some hard calls on some players Seattle has made some significant investments in. Blair is a lock to make the roster but one key will be how ready he shows he is to playing immediately. If he were to win a starting job then Seattle could more easily move on from Thompson or Luani. With all the injuries, though, Thompson and Luani were the starters throughout the offseason program, and Seattle may well want some experience (granted, no one other than McDougald really has all that much) and options until they know for sure how ready the two rookies really are.
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 battery is set.
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