53-Man Roster Projections Midway Through Preseason
Lots and lots of roster news this week. Let’s try to sort it out through a roster review and projection. For comparison, here is my last projection following the Seahawks scrimmage.
This table shows how many players Pete Carroll and John Schneider have kept at each position group since they came aboard in 2010. It also shows what they did last year, and what I am projecting for this year.
How my projections have evolved over three versions:
5 -> 6 -> 5 Running backs
5 -> 5 -> 6 Wide Receivers
10 -> 9 -> 9 Offensive linemen
6 -> 6 -> 5 Linebackers
6 -> 5 -> 6 Cornerbacks
4 -> 5 -> 5 Safeties
I will explain more below what led to these changes.
Russell Wilson has a pretty good shot to make this team if he doesn’t screw up this third preseason game. Fingers crossed.
Geno Smith will get the bulk of the backup snaps with J.T. Barrett available for mop-up duty. Paxton Lynch remains out with injury. Smith played for the Chargers last season, and is familiar with that team. He knows his job is on the line and should play well enough to secure the backup spot.
This has become a more certain position group as time passed. C.J. Prosise has made it a rather simple decision by missing the first two games. Nick Bellore has not played wonderfully, but he has guaranteed money on his deal and the team likes what he brings on special teams and even as an emergency linebacker. Travis Homer and J.D. McKissic are locks.
Lots of movement here. D.K. Metcalf is out the rest of the preseason and may miss some regular season time. David Moore was injured seriously enough this week that the team knows he will not be back for the season opener and will be “out a while.”
Gary Jennings has had exactly one standout practice and nothing of note during games. John Ursua has two big catches and a nice run. Jazz Ferguson has been the most productive of the three.
You are unlikely to see any other projection have Malik Turner making it. He has done nothing during the preseason and it’s been at least a week or two since he made noise in practice. I still have him making it because he has special teams ability, he has experience playing in the NFL (briefly last year, but more than anyone else in the competition), and he’s a better receiver than fans realize.
Would I be shocked if the team cut him and kept Jennings and Ursua instead? No. I would be surprised, though.
I’ve finally bent and added a sixth receiver. When the team keeps five, I will be the guy punching himself in the face for succumbing to receiver fever once again.
Depending on the injury to Moore, and the recovery time for Metcalf, the team could be facing a situation where they have only three healthy receivers in week one unless they keep six. It seems likely they will keep six and try to sign the two that don’t make it to the practice squad.
Jennings has already shown more than Amara Darboh ever did, and the team chose to keep him. He likely is the sixth receiver. That would mean they would expose Ursua to waivers.
Personally, I hate that. Ursua is going to be a good player for a long time. If Moore gets placed on IR, that would open the door to keep Ursua and Jennings.
If Moore is able to come back this season, the team could decide to keep him on the 53-man roster for a day, and then place him on IR so they can bring him back later. In that scenario, they still would have to cut either Jennings or Ursua, but would likely have a back-room deal with them encouraging them to sit tight and rejoin the team a day later.
That is, however, a risk. Remember when Tom Johnson decided to spurn the team and return to the Vikings last season.
I continue to believe Jazz Ferguson has no chance to make this roster. He would be a terrific practice squad signing. I would not be shocked if a guy like Keenan Reynolds gets added to the practice squad instead of Ferguson given Reynolds ability to play special teams and even scout team quarterback.
Some movement here as well. Ed Dickson is a ways from returning. George Fant is going to make it back for the opener. For the first time, I have Nick Vannett edging out Dickson for the third tight end spot.
Mike Iupati sounds on track to be back for the opener, as does Fant and Jamarco Jones. That clears up a lot of the current mess. I have flopped Joey Hunt with Jordan Simmons as Simmons sounds like he will still be out for a while and Hunt can play both guard and center.
Ezekiel Ansah is getting back on the practice field next week. L.J. Collier is close to getting back on the field as well. There is some chance the team decided to keep another pure DT like Bryan Mone, Earl Mitchell, or Jamie Meder in place of Quinton Jefferson. Or, they might keep 10 defensive linemen and pull from other spots on the roster. Is it possible Rasheem Green is at risk? I just can’t see them walking away from their 3rd round pick after just one season.
The team usually keeps seven linebackers, so the idea that they would keep five is ludicrous on the surface. Consider, though, that Barkevious Mingo can be a backup SAM linebacker, as can Jacob Martin. Bellore is an emergency linebacker as well.
Additionally, I believe both Ben Burr-Kirven and Shaquem Griffin would make it through waivers and be available on the practice squad if they want them.
I went back-and-forth on this one. I believe Griffin is the more valuable player at this point. He’s one of their top special teams players, and shows some playmaking promise as a SAM. BBK has yet to really make his mark in any area. The wildcard is Griffin’s balky knee that was bruised and has kept him from returning since the first game. He might need to play next week to keep his spot.
This would leave Austin Calitro on the outside looking in. He certainly has earned a spot on the roster. I just don’t see a need for him given Cody Barton is clearly the back-up at MIKE and WILL if needed and Calitro does not play special teams. The team needs extra secondary help more than they need another linebacker.
I’ll admit, there was some wild guessing here about going to six corners. The nickel corner spot has not settled as much as you would hope by now. Jamar Taylor appears to be the leader. I have a feeling the team will want to keep DeShawn Shead around as a safety blanket at both corner and safety, knowing he can contribute on special teams if needed.
There may be some risk for Neiko Thorpe as the team might decide a younger and cheaper Shalom Luani is more valuable.
A guy like Kalen Reed could still sneak ahead of one of these guys with a strong end to preseason.
It seems pretty clear the team will keep the five safeties highlighted. Ugo Amadi also counts as a corner. That is why Luani could knock off Thorpe or Shead.
The god of punting will return. That is all that matters.