Hardcore NFL fans love to geek out about who makes the final 53-man roster of their favorite football team. The truth is, all the players up for discussion generally have little chance of impacting the team’s fortunes. These are people at the back end of the roster, who are hoping to get special teams snaps at best. There are times teams are so stacked overall or at a specific position that players who could get real snaps for another team are on the chopping block. This is especially likely when a young player or two rise during preseason and push a good-but-not-great veteran off the team. The Seahawks have what may be a handful of situations like that this year, leading to what could be some lifted eyebrows come cut down day tomorrow.
NFL teams must submit their cuts to the league office by 1PM Pacific Time on August 31st. Seattle tends to have their cuts leak out largely after the deadline and it can be as long as 3-5 hours before their PR department announces the official roster.
Carroll and Schneider tendencies
I have tracked the numbers the Seahawks have kept at each position group since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010. This has proved useful in keeping my fan biases in check, where I fall in love with a receiver or linemen that simply will not be kept due to the numbers the team needs at the position.
The 2020 column is how many the team kept at each position. Keep in mind, this is the number they had when the roster was officially announced. There tend to be changes in the days that follow and before the first game.
The second column should be self-explanatory. The third column is how many I am projecting the team to keep at each position this year. The final column is the difference between my projection this year and what the team kept last year.
As you will see in a few moments, one of the toughest parts of projecting the roster this year was just classifying which position group a player belongs in. Are Marquise Blair and Ugo Amadi cornerbacks or safeties? Are Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson defensive linemen or linebackers? The answers definitely skew the results one way or another.
I am mostly in line with their normal numbers.
Position group details
Russell Wilson and Geno Smith.
Running backs (5)
I expect the team to try and trade one of Rashaad Penny, Alex Collins or DeeJay Dallas. They do not need five running backs, but I see them keeping all five if they do not find a trade partner. Fans are clamoring for Penny to be dealt or cut. I don’t see them cutting a guy who would cost them $2M in dead cap to cut. I believe he still could be a valuable part of this offense.
Collins certainly looks like the better fit at RB2 for now, but if someone offered a good trade for him, I think Seattle takes it. Dallas is young and promising, but has struggled a ton in pass protection and likely has no role on this team except special teams. Travis Homer still probably is above him on the third down back depth chart purely due to pass blocking. Given that, if another team was intrigued by his flashy preseason, Seattle should consider all offers.
The other factor here is Josh Johnson also is a good back and could easily land on the practice squad. All Seahawks fans should be cheering for a trade of one of their backs, and care less about which one.
Wide receivers (5)
The top five are straightforward here. D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Dee Eskridge, Freddie Swain and Penny Hart. There is a chance Hart could be replaced with a player from another roster they like, but most likely he sticks as the fifth receiver. I don’t believe any of the other players have earned a spot on the roster or are in danger of being snagged by another team. Seattle can easily put Cody Thompson or Aaron Fuller on the practice squad without taking up a valuable 53-man roster spot.
Tight ends (4)
This one is a little wonky. Colby Parkinson’s injury situation likely means he will not be ready for the first week or two of the regular season. The team must keep him on the roster as PUP is only open to players who started training camp on the PUP list. Parkinson was injured during camp, so that’s not an option. It also does not make a ton of sense to put him on IR unless they expect him to miss at least three weeks. The minimum return time for IR players is now three weeks unlike pre-Covid rules.
I see them keeping four tight ends, including Tyler Mabry, who fans have no awareness of, but the team likes quite a bit. Mabry can serve as the third tight end until Parkinson returns. Mabry was injured much of camp but played in the final preseason game. He is a solid blocker. They can then move him to the practice squad if need be after Parkinson returns.
Offensive line (10)
This group has the potential to have some surprises. Let’s assume Duane Brown will return for the first week. Let’s also assume Kyle Fuller is the starter at center (excuse me while I retch). We know that Brown, Brandon Shell, Damien Lewis, Gabe Jackson, Fuller, and Ethan Pocic make the squad. That is six. Jamarco Jones is another certainty. He can play either tackle position and guard. That’s seven.
Phil Haynes is another player I think is highly likely to make the team. He can play guard or center. That’s eight.
Now you have Brown, Shell, and Jones who can play tackle, and Lewis, Jackson, Jones, and Pocic who can play guard. You need another tackle.
I believe Stone Forsythe has done enough to make the squad and could definitely be snagged by another team if not protected. That brings you to nine.
This last spot gets very tough. Cedric Ogbuehi seemed like a lock to start camp, but has been injured and the team has seen multiple young guys step up at tackle. I don’t think you keep him over a young guy with club control like Forsythe. Ogbuehi can be cut with only a $350K dead cap charge. I think Jake Curhan has been very promising this preseason as well.
A key question will be whether the team believes it can get Curhan to the practice squad. If not, I think they keep him and cut Ogbuehi. For now, that is what I am predicting. When a young player is either even or close to even with a veteran, you keep the young player. A trade is also a possibility for Ogbuehi.
This also means Jordan Simmons does not make the final roster. With four options at guard, and with less certain future options at tackle, it makes more sense to invest in extra tackles. It might even be possible to cross-train Curhan at guard.
Defensive line (8)
This is another tough one. Seattle has as deep of a defensive line as they have had since 2013. It is not as talented as that line, but there is not a ton of drop off from top to bottom. They usually only keep eight players on the DL, but kept 10 that season, and that was after cutting Jaye Howard, Sealver Siliga, and Clinton McDonald.
I have them keeping 10 again this season, but two of the players, Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, are being classified as linebackers in my roster since they are playing SAM. That means eight “pure” defensive linemen.
Carlos Dunlap, Poona Ford, Al Woods, Bryan Mone, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder Jr., and Rasheem Green should be obvious keepers. That is seven right there.
It is very possible the team rolls with just those seven, knowing they also have Taylor and Robinson. After going back and forth and back and forth, I decided they would keep L.J. Collier. It’s that close.
They would certainly have to listen to any trade offers for him. He just does not have a ton of value to the team given other options. Robert Nkemdiche is more intriguing as he seems to have a higher disruptive upside, but his injury situation has made his spot questionable.
Further complicating matters could be the team eyeing Geno Atkins. They may choose to add him and say goodbye to both Collier and Nkemdiche. For now, I have them keeping Collier.
This group could swing based on the defensive line decision. There are some obvious keeps in: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Taylor, Robinson, Cody Barton and Nick Bellore. That is six guys. Jon Rhattigan looked great in his final game. The team might decide his value as a special teams player outweighs Collier’s value as a backup interior linemen. For now, I see them trying to get him on the practice squad.
Seven cornerbacks?!? Yes. Now, this has everything to do with Blair and Amadi being classified as corners on my roster. That is their primary position, even if they are backup safeties as well. As you will see, that means the safety group is thinner.
The no-brainer keeps are: Blair, DJ Reed, Tre Flowers, Ahkello Witherspoon, Amadi and Tre Brown. Brown has been dealing with an injury and is a candidate to go on IR. That could open a spot for another corner, and I would bet that would be someone not on the roster. Although, Gavin Heslop has done well.
I do have newcomer John Reid making the roster. He is a plus special teams player and has been making a good initial impression. The biggest challenge for him is the team has to decide if he is worth giving up a 7th round pick for as the trade is almost certainly contingent on whether he makes the roster or plays a certain amount of games.
This group is pretty clear at the top. Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs and Ryan Neal all make it. Neal may be a candidate for IR as he has been dealing with an injury. Aashari Crosewell is a name to keep an eye on. The team could decide to keep him over Reid or he could benefit from Neal going on IR.
Michael Dickson, Jason Myers, Tyler Ott.
Here’s a birds-eye view of the roster in mostly stack-ranked order from top-to-bottom at each position. There is real potential for late roster movement at running back, offensive line, defensive line, and cornerback.
Seattle has a surplus at a few positions and has the most clear need at corner.