John Clayton: Making sense of the Seahawks’ roster heading into Week 1
Even though you would expect more roster changes for the Seahawks as the week progresses, there weren’t too many surprises in their cut-down to 53 players and moves shortly thereafter.
The 2018 reset of the roster gives general manager John Schneider plenty of latitude to take chances and try out different players. You can see that with the moves after the final cut, as the Seahawks put in claims for a 6-foot-3 cornerback Simeon Thomas from the Cleveland Browns and 339-pound offensive lineman Jordan Simmons.
For now, the Seahawks have 20 new players on the roster, and don’t be surprised if a few more are swapped in.
Let’s look at where the roster sits heading into the regular season.
• The youth movement allowed the Seahawks to have the ninth-youngest team in football at an average age of 25.7, which is also second-youngest in the NFC West behind the Los Angeles Rams. That’s normal, though. The Seahawks’ final 53 has been between 25.3 years and 25.7 since 2013. Pete Carroll believes in developing young players as potential starters and to create good competition.
• The promising 2018 draft class had eight players make the final 53, and the Seahawks hit on two undrafted players: defensive tackle Poona Ford and middle linebacker Austin Calitro. Calitro earned his spot by hustling during the preseason and showing potential as a backup middle linebacker, a spot where K.J. Wright was previously the option to play if Bobby Wagner suffered an injury. Ford, meanwhile, was just too good to cut. At 5-11, he’s a stout run-stopper and made it as Seattle’s No. 5 defensive tackle.
• Since the league stopped requiring teams to cut to 90 players before cutting to 53, teams like the Seahawks have been able to slip more players through waivers to either re-sign or make the practice squad. The Philadelphia Eagles claimed linebacker D.J. Alexander, who was injured through most of the offseason and training camp practices. Amara Darboh went to the New England Patriots. Every one else slipped through, however, giving the Seahawks the chance to put quarterback Alex McGough, wide receivers Keenan Reynolds and Demore’ea Stringfellow and tight end Tyrone Swoopes on the practice squad.
• By placing cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Erik Walden on injured reserve, the Seahawks could bring them back in the second half of the season if their injuries allow it. They didn’t get a break at tight end with Ed Dickson staying on the Non-Football Injury list and being out for six weeks. The best news for Carroll was that defensive end Dion Jordan came off the PUP list and is available for the start of the season. How much he can play remains in question.
• The thinnest position on the team remains at edge rusher, where the Seahawks have Frank Clark, Jordan, Rasheem Green and Quinton Jefferson at defensive end. They could also use linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin as pass-rushing options.
• It was a little bit of a surprise that the Seahawks kept only five wide receivers, but they must have figured they would get enough pass-catchers on the practice squad to bring up if they needed one. Marcus Johnson established himself as the sixth-best receiver over the past couple of weeks, but they traded him to Indianapolis to get tight end Darrell Daniels. And they needed a tight end because of Dickson’s injury.
• George Fant is clearly the backup swing tackle after the releases of Willie Beavers, Rees Odhiambo and Isaiah Battle. They kept J.R. Sweezy as a backup guard. If they get into a pinch, they could put Ethan Pocic at tackle and open up the left guard spot to Sweezy.
• I figured the Seahawks would keep five running backs because of the injury factor. J.D. McKissic is a month away from returning from his foot injury, so keeping four would have left them short if they had one or two injuries for a particular game. They kept fullback Tre Madden for special teams and blocking, but they did try out some tight end blocking in the preseason finale against Oakland.