Today, all 32 NFL clubs close out the preseason with their final exhibition games. By Sunday afternoon, the Seahawks must reduce their 90-man roster to a maximum of 53. With a few injury designations and transactions already taken place, I wanted to get one more projection in before waivers clear, and teams fill out the bottom of their rosters.
QB (2): Wilson, Smith
Geno Smith looked superior to Paxton Lynch all throughout camp, until the Broncos game happened. As fast as Paxton’s hype ballooned, the Holton Hill headshot dashed his opportunity to compete in the dress rehearsal against the Chargers. This allowed Smith to freely cement himself as the backup we believed him to be all along. Even if Paxton performs well tonight, this should hold true, barring significant injury to Geno. Expect Lynch to clear waivers and be stashed on the practice squad as one of the four “veterans” allowed.
RB (5): Carson, Penny, McKissic, Prosise, Bellore
Truthfully, there aren’t many internal players whose performance tonight can significantly alter Seattle’s depth chart, as the fourth preseason game is usually just a formality for those doubtful to make the roster. C.J. Prosise appears to be one of the exceptions. After finally getting through a game healthy, he’s seemingly landed back in the good graces of an empathetic Carroll. When asked directly about Prosise, Pete indicated Saturday that he’s not quick to give up on players. And as it pertains to running backs, he’s not lying. Though for different reasons, he’s historically displayed incredible patience for Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, and Thomas Rawls. A week ago, this was an obvious call to make. However, if Prosise manages to put back-to-back weeks together, Travis Homer may not be able to get by on special teams alone. The talent gap between the two is obvious, and the 6th rounder would be subject to waivers before landing on the practice squad. None of this will matter if C.J. doesn’t ball out with a clean bill of health tonight.
WR (6): Lockett, Brown, Moore, Metcalf, Jennings, Ursua
Early reports from Joe Fann suggested David Moore be given one of the two allowable IR-Return designations. Then, Ian Rapoport tweeted Moore would avoid IR all together which was confirmed by Pete Carroll after receiving a second opinion. This indicated two things. First, confidence that David is returning well before week nine (the soonest a player can return from IR). Secondly, Seattle will carry a minimum of six wide receivers.
As for the final spot: Keenan Reynolds hasn’t flashed like we heard he would. Jazz Ferguson received an opportunity to play with the first-team offense but was unable to capitalize on his red zone target. The likelihood for him to make this roster remains doubtful due to Seattle’s abundance of big receivers. I’ll reiterate they’re looking for a small slot receiver aside from Lockett. After waiving Darboh, they brought back Nyqwan Murray who is listed at 5’10 – 191lbs.
However, the player with the “it” factor is John Ursua. Blended comparisons of Baldwin, Lockett, and Tate come from his size, route running, and bodily mannerisms after the catch. There’s something undoubtedly reminiscent. After learning seven teams made rookie free agent offers to Ursua, we can understand the need to trade back into the draft for him. Not to mention, the improbability he would clear waivers for practice squad stashing. Ursua rounds out my six. Friend of the Bloge Matty Brown sums up his preseason nicely here (follow Matty, cowards):
TE (3): Dickson, Vannett, Dissly
Seattle can’t cut Dickson while he’s injured, and I don’t foresee an injury settlement situation. If he starts on the PUP, then keep Jacob Hollister in the fold. He’s played well, but not well enough to move on from Ed. Yes, a bit of cap space could be alleviated, but it makes more sense in 2020 if you look at how his deal is structured. The team isn’t constrained by cap currently and Dickson is still a solid veteran that fits schematically better than Hollister. If Seattle decides not to retain Vannett after this season, they’d still have two quality tight ends under contract in 2020. There should be no rush on Dickson.
OL (9): Brown, Iupati, Britt, Fluker, Ifedi, Jones, Pocic, Roos, Fant
The starting five are locked in. To me, it comes down to the backup spot at right guard. Despite being undersized for Solari’s scheme, Jordan Roos has played well in preseason. I picture a scenario where Phil Haynes is given PUP designation and Roos makes the team if at least until Phil returns. Despite any rumor, I don’t foresee any impending trades involving Britt, Ifedi, or Pocic. Replacement level starting lineman are more valuable than people give credit, and the Seahawks don’t exactly have a slew of healthy depth to trade off. If Seattle wants to make a player-for-player trade, it would be foolish to take from this group. Creating voids to fix another is not how you get better. After years of poor offensive line play, they’ve found some stability, and they’re not in a hurry to dismantle it. Anticipate additions here after waivers clear.
DEFENSE & SPECIAL TEAMS (28)
DL (9): Green, Ansah, Collier, Marsh, Martin, Ford, Jefferson, Woods, Mitchell
With Naz Jones designated to IR, the biggest beneficiary to me is Quinton Jefferson, since the two were used in a similar big 3/5 tech role in training camp. Not to mention, Poona wasn’t going to split base or pass rush reps with Naz this season after breaking out. Injury stashing Jones is good for the team but bad for Naz. Once a promising 3rd rounder, his career arc has mysteriously devolved, providing little to no details about suddenly chronically knee injuries. I find it curious.
A trade for Clowney or Everson Griffen seems unlikely and Schneider will keep a pulse on the waiver wire for any pass rush. Unfortunately, Seattle’s waiver priority is 21st so any quality player would likely be claimed by teams with higher priority. When it comes to the defensive line, Seattle chases traits over production.
Ziggy Ansah is all but ready for the Bengals game, and we should expect an update on L.J. Collier imminently. Jarran Reed’s return will be significant for the pass rush department, but this team is essentially doubling-down on Green and Martin taking their sophomore leaps.
LB (7): Wright, Wagner, Kendricks, Calitro, Barton, Burr-Kirven, Griffin
In Camp Crucial, I felt Mingo’s transition to defensive end gave some implication about Shaquem Griffin. Though listed at different positions, I felt and still believe they’re intertwined. However, my outlook has changed. I’ll admit, I put too much stock into Mingo’s training camp reps, which haven’t translated in games. And though we haven’t seen much better from Shaquem, he still has three years of club control versus Mingo’s one and costs a grand total of $2.2M versus Mingo’s $5.2M. They are both good special teamers, provide a situational pass rush, and can step in as an emergency linebacker. Now I’m not making the cap casualty argument for Mingo because I didn’t make it for Ed Dickson. That said, if both contribute similarly, my sense is the team will naturally lean toward the younger, cheaper option. If my intuition is wrong, and Mingo doesn’t impact what linebackers they keep, then my best estimation is he’s battling Marsh tonight.
DB (9): Griffin, Flowers, King, Amadi, Taylor, Thompson, Blair, McDougald, Shead
As I mentioned last week, Lano Hill is on the outside looking in. Behind Shead on the depth chart, I believe his best chance depends on Marquise Blair’s availability. In the event Blair cannot start the season, Amadi or Shead can cover FS2 while Lano bumps to SS2. Seattle may not be done looking for defensive backs though with Kalan Reed on IR. The starting job could be won tonight by Amadi or Taylor. If none are clear cut, I could see Schneider making a move like the one he did for Justin Coleman. Catching lightning in a bottle twice might be far-fetched though.
ST (3): Myers, Dickson, Ott
Obviously, this threefold group isn’t changing, but a few jobs can be won in teams’ coverage. Travis Homer, Jacob Hollister, and Ben Burr-Kirven come to mind. The loaded linebacker room means BBK must be a core special teamer at this stage of his career. That’s why he was drafted and that’s why I kept him on my projection. However, a lot can happen between now and Sunday. If push comes to shove, BBK could be waived for a more pressing position of need, which would still leave Seattle with 6 linebackers.
Tonight’s game probably won’t be all that engaging for us fans, but for a few of these players, it’s a matter of livelihood.