Rost on Seahawks: A surprising roster cut sparks debate

Aug 31, 2022, 9:20 AM
Seahawks Marquise Blair...
Marquise Blair reacts after a missed field goal attempt by Matt Bryant of the Atlanta Falcons on October 27, 2019. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Seahawks unveiled their 53-man roster Tuesday with relatively few surprises, save for a pair of 2019 draft picks: one who made the final roster despite criticism, and one who didn’t despite sky-high potential.

Seahawks unveil initial 53-man roster; Swain, Melton and Blair waived

Indeed, Marquise Blair’s release was the most surprising of the day, though not quite as shocking as the release of a starter would be. And therein lied Blair’s problem: the former second-rounder couldn’t stay on the field following back-to-back season-ending knee injuries. Making matters worse, he found himself outplayed in the preseason by Josh Jones, whose stellar camp and preseason play earned a backup role.

The Seahawks have always been high on Blair’s potential, but that logjam at safety forced them to cut ties with their second overall pick from 2019. The move at the very least allows Blair the option to fight for a starting job on a roster that doesn’t include a pair of Pro Bowlers.

“In one sense, it’s hard to break in here,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Tuesday. “We’ve got really good players and he’s a guy that wants to play the game as much as anybody. Very intense about it. And this gives him an opportunity to have a chance to start somewhere. So, he’s a nice ball player and he’s tough as hell and we loved him, so we wish him the very best and the door is always open.”

Meanwhile, the only player drafted ahead of Blair in 2019, defensive lineman L.J. Collier, made the final 53. The former first-round pick has started just 16 games in three seasons and given the lack of overall production, it was fair to wonder whether he’d be released.

But Collier remains on this team for two big reasons.

First, he’s a former first-round pick and it sure feels like a punch in the gut to part ways with that. Secondly, he plays in a position group that allows for more depth.

There’s an argument to be made that his play was promising prior to his elbow injury, though that same injury kept him from proving much else this month. On a final note, there’s also a possibility Collier doesn’t remain on the active roster. Carroll didn’t rule out the possibility that the team could place Collier on the injured reserve list, which would keep him out for the first four weeks.

“We don’t need to go there now,” Carroll said simply when asked. “He made the club today.”

It’s (officially) Geno’s show

There was little doubt Geno Smith would be named the Seahawks’ Week 1 starter at quarterback given the split of first- and second-team reps in camp (that is to say that Smith played almost exclusively with the ones). But if there were any fans hoping ex-49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo could come in as a free agent to compete, that was blown up with the surprising news of a restructured deal in San Francisco.

No Jimmy G for Seahawks after 49ers restructure deal with Garoppolo

Most critics expected the 49ers to release Garoppolo. After all, they’d publicly committed to 2021 No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance. There was also the matter of Garoppolo’s contract. If he were to be waived, he’d have just $2 million guaranteed from a $25 million cap hit. If he were to start the season on the 49ers’ roster, the team would then be on the hook for that salary.

Avoid a quarterback controversy and save $20-plus million? It’s an easy decision! Unless you’re the 49ers.

Admittedly, keeping Garoppolo gives them one of the league’s best backup situations, a boon considering Lance’s limited experience. For Garoppolo, he’ll make an extra $4 million in guaranteed money, at least. But it sure does make for awkward optics for a team that has seemed hesitant to fully hand the reins over to its franchise pick.

Finally, the restructured deal includes a no-trade and no-tag clause. But that doesn’t mean Garoppolo will spend the entire season with San Francisco.

Garoppolo must waive the no-trade clause if he were to be moved, which gives him a bit more control over where he lands. But the restructured contract ultimately allows San Francisco to save money against the cap and try to recoup some trade value in exchange for Garoppolo should another team make the move ahead of the trade deadline.

At this point, though, it seems doubtful that team would be Seattle.

Signing Jimmy G on the cheap is one thing. But giving up a draft pick for a short-term option at quarterback is a move better suited for a team ready to contend for a Super Bowl now. And as promising as some of Seattle’s young talent appears, that’s not where the Seahawks are in 2022.

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