There is enough practice and game play behind us to start thinking about who is going to make the final roster. First, a refresher on how many players the Seahawks broke camp with at every positions last year, their average keep for that position since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived, and my projected keep. The plus/minus column indicates where I am projecting a change from what the team kept for that position last year.
I initially had the Seahawks keeping two more defensive linemen than the year before, but I fall into the trap each preseason of thinking they have to keep more than 8 defensive linemen, and they almost never do. In fact, they kept just seven to start last season. I don’t think there are seven linebackers worth keeping even though they typically keep more than six on the roster. I have them keeping an extra corner and one less safety, largely due to the thin talent pool at safety and the potential that Earl Thomas will be forced to come back at some point.
I could have listed McGough as on the bubble, but I don’t think there is a real competition there at this point. I do, however, believe the team could choose to look at veteran QBs who get cut as Davis is far from solidified in the backup spot.
This one will be interesting. It is a position of strength for the team. Much will hinge on what happens with C.J. Prosise from here on out. I believe he makes the roster over Mike Davis, much to the chagrin of many Seahawks fans. He just offers far more upside and flexibility. That said, if he doesn’t recover soon from this current injury and demonstrate he can play in two straight games, the team will have a much harder decision.
Adding to the drama will be whether Seattle wants to keep a fullback. They did last year, and that cost Davis his spot. Many forget Davis started the year on the practice squad. Expect the team to keep Madden again.
This is perennially one of the toughest position groups to predict. The team tends to keep six receivers, but they barely make use of four. Amara Darboh was fourth on the team in targets last season with just 13 and Tanner McEvoy was fifth with 9 targets. The guys at the back end of the receiver list are evaluated far more for their special teams skills than their receiving ability. If that was not the case, David Moore would be ahead of Marcus Johnson for me. The fact that Johnson is a strong special teams player and was targeted by Seattle in the Michael Bennett trade makes me think they are pretty invested in him.
It may not matter as I have Moore making it as well. The intrigue could come with whether Brandon Marshall makes the final cut. Seattle has a history of keeping big name free agents around through camp and then cutting them at the end. Marshall is a guy I believe makes the final cut, but it is not out of the question that the team decides to go with younger players who can contribute on special teams. That would open a spot for a guy like Damore’ea Stringfellow or possibly Keenan Reynolds.
Not really in the conversation are Darboh and McEvoy. That says a lot considering Darboh was a 3rd-round pick just a year ago. It will take one heck of a redemption story the rest of the way for him to claw onto the roster.
Barring injury, this position should be set.
This one could be complicated. I have D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy as on the bubble. Why? There is a chance the team is trying to figure out which veteran to start at right guard and would let the other walk in favor of a younger player. I see it as a lock that they will keep one of them, and Fluker currently has the edge.
Another wrinkle could be what happens with Jamarco Jones. He has what Pete Carroll has described as a serious high ankle sprain. That generally means many weeks of recovery. The team cannot put him on the PUP list because he has already been active. They cannot put him on the IR before making cuts if they want to bring him back later in the season. Players have to be on the week one roster in order to be eligible for the IR list that allows someone to return. My current guess is they will IR him and put him on the shelf for the whole season. That is purely based on the assumption his injury is serious enough to require multiple months of recovery and the team does not want to cut someone else to make space for him week one. If his injury situation is more hopeful, he definitely makes the roster.
The other guy who is always hard to predict is Joey Hunt. Ethan Pocic should be able to act as the backup center, but the problem there is that if Justin Britt goes down in a game, you have to make two lineup changes as Pocic would slide over from guard. The team tends to keep a true backup center on the roster, which could mean a guy like Rees Odhiambo gets bumped. There are lots of moving parts with this group.
Another super tough group to project. The team typically keeps 3-4 interior linemen and 4 or more edge rushers. They kept 3 interior guys last year. If they did that again, you would be looking at cutting one of Nazair Jones, Shamar Stephen, or Tom Johnson. I have a really hard time seeing them cut any of those guys. Johnson and Stephen were signed as a free agents with some guaranteed money. Both would create about $1M in cap space if they were cut. Carroll has been effusive in his praise of Johnson, and you would guess the older player would be the more vulnerable. I just don’t see the team walking away from Johnson.
The other challenging aspect here is figuring out edge rushers beyond Rasheem Green and Frank Clark. Initially, I was counting Jacob Martin in this group, which made it even tougher, but I believe they will classify him as a SAM LB when it settles out. He will factor into how many edge players they feel they need to keep. Quinton Jefferson has been playing well, but is primarily an interior player. They really do not need five defensive tackles. That is why it was important to hear the team was playing him outside at the 5-technique end position in practice this week.
The team needs to know if Jefferson can play on the edge, at least in the base defense. If not, his roster spot becomes far more questionable. Branden Jackson has the strong edge over Marcus Smith II. Those two are likely battling Jefferson for the last spot on the line. It is hard to imagine them cutting Jackson, which is why I originally had them keeping nine on the defensive line, but they just do not do that. If they buck the trend, then Jackson and Jefferson are probably safe.
This group is mostly straight-forward, but I have a suspicion the D.J. Alexander may not have a spot on lock. He was not as dynamic on special teams last year as I expected him to be, given that he was a former Pro Bowl player. Emmanuel Beal is a name to watch as he played quite well on special teams in the first preseason game. Austin Calitro has a shot largely because the team does not have a legitimate option to backup Bobby Wagner at MIKE without him.
This was yet another challenging position. I am not convinced that Byron Maxwell is a lock. We could see Dontae Johnson, who just started practicing, make a run at that starting corner spot opposite Shaquill Griffin. Akeem King is also a young player who could grab a spot. I wound up predicting the team will keep one more corner than last year, and that still meant special teams standout Neiko Thorpe gets left off. The team could save a decent amount of cap space if they cut Thorpe, which plays a role in my projection.
The team tends to keep five safeties, but I cannot understand how they would choose to keep either Lorenzo Jerome or T.J. Mutcherson over guys like King, Johnson, Jefferson, or Jackson on the defense. It seems unlikely Thomas will play anytime soon.
I don’t believe there is a real competition here. Michael Dickson will be the punter and Sebastian Janikowski will be the kicker.