Another season, another laundry list of questions for the Seattle Seahawks, but .
The team's offseason was once married to the same Earl Thomas drama that had a stranglehold of their 2018 headlines, after the All-Pro safety ran into the locker room of the Dallas Cowboys in December 2017 to tell head coach Jason Garrett to "come get him." That sparked a four-alarm blaze that burned for the next 15 months and involved trade requests from the Cowboys that were rebuffed at every turn by the Seahawks, as it slowly became clear it'd be the Kansas City Chiefs landing Thomas in exchange for a second-round pick.
That never happened, because Thomas broke his leg only days ahead of the potential move being made, and he thentoward Pete Carroll as he was being carted off the field as a Seahawk for the final time -- a gesture that followed bowing toward the Cowboys' sideline weeks earlier in snarky fashion for not being willing to give up a reported first-round pick for him.
Scripts for a future installment of "A Football Life: Earl Thomas" aside, the Seahawks moved on and secured a rather strong rookie haul headlined by defensive lineman L.J. Collier, but signed two backup quarterbacks that don't exactly invoke confidence should Russell Wilson miss any time in the future. Now secured on a four-year, $140 million deal that includes $107 million in guaranteed money, Wilson is the highest-paid QB in NFL history and now has to be Teflon if the Seahawks want to remain a playoff team.
The options behind him were Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch, and while some believed it was the latter who had the edge for the role of QB2, it turns out they were incorrect. In the end, it was the newly-signed J.T. Barrett that wound up pushing both into free agency, at least initially.
The Seahawks have now finalized the first version of their 53-man roster for Week 1 of the regular season. It's important to keep in mind that an NFL 53-man roster is fluid. Changes will be made in the next 24 hours, weeks, and months during the regular season are a regular occurrence. As of now, these are the athletes the Seahawks will march into battle with every week and, below, we'll break down the roster on each side of the ball and special teams. The team actually opted to cut into their 53-man availability for starters, leaving room for them to add bodies in the next few days.
In looking at where they stand currently, things are looking up in Seattle.
|QB||Russell Wilson||Geno Smith|
|RB||Chris Carson||Rashaad Penny||Travis Homer||C.J. Prosise|
|WR||D.K. Metcalf||Malik Turner|
|WR||Tyler Lockett||Gary Jennings, Jr.||David Moore|
|TE||Nick Vannett||Will Dissly|
|LT||Duane Brown||George Fant|
|LG||Mike Iupati||Phil Haynes|
|C||Justin Britt||Ethan Pocic|
Stick with me on this one, if you would please.
Smith was able to unseat Lynch mostly because he possesses something the Seahawks count on to keep the chains moving offensively:
This isn't to say Lynch can't put his 6-foot-7, 244-pound frame into gear, but Smith is more adept at doing so and has more experience doing it at the NFL level. Barrett, however, is still young with an upside the Seahawks like, and this will be key when playing behind a questionable offensive line, routinely proven to be one of the more porous in the league. More often than not, it's Wilson's legs that save the day for the offense, and whoever is named his backup better be able to do the same. Neither will floor you with their resume, and that should rightfully concern a Seahawks team so reliant upon the QB making plays both on the ground and in the air, which made the team's decision to cut every QB not named Wilson a head-scratcher.
Wilson is infinitely durable and now the recipient of a legendary contract, but not carrying a single backup QB feels dangerous. In reality, you could've expected a re-signing of one of the three who tried out this preseason once everything is settled with IR and waiver claims.
Smith got that nod, in the end -- re-joining the team on Sunday.
As they search for Doug Baldwin's replacement, all eyes will be on rookie second-round pick , and create a strong tandem with the speedy Tyler Lockett, a talent proven to give opposing defensive backs nightmares as a deep threat. The rest will be the Seahawks figuring out which wideouts belong on the roster and where.
Things are just as unsettled on the running back front, if not more so. The club is pleased with Carson having a breakout season in 2018 -- delivering 1,314 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns in his sophomore campaign -- which should float higher this coming season. Carroll's goal is to utilize Carson and the other halfbacks a bit more in the receiving game, and you can expect the Seahawks to continue taking advantage of that skill set.
|DE||Ziggy Ansah||Rasheem Green||Branden Jackson|
|DT||Al Woods||Quinton Jefferson|
|DT||Poona Ford||Bryan Mone|
|DE||Jadeveon Clowney||L.J. Collier|
|LB||K.J. Wright||Shaquem Griffin||Cody Barton||Ben Burr-Kirven|
|LB||Bobby Wagner||Mychal Kendricks||Austin Calitro|
|CB||Shaquill Griffin||Kalan Reed|
|CB||Tre Flowers||Neiko Thorpe|
|SCB||Akeem King||Ugo Amadi||Parry Nickerson|
|FS||Brad McDougald||Tedric Thompson||Ugo Amadi|
|SS||Marquise Blair||Delano Hill|
This team chose not to pay Frank Clark.
That's it. That's the sentence.
To be fair, there's more, but that decision was easily one of the biggest made by the organization this year. Losing Clark means they lost a premier pass rusher that delivered 13 sacks in 2018 and 32 total over his last three seasons. In an attempt to fill the void, they signed Ziggy Ansah on a one-year deal worth $9 million and used a 2019 first-round pick L.J. Collier, but there's a health concern on Collier that stems from a sprain near his ankle. The former TCU standout is progressing well, and although he won't take the field in the preseason, signs point to a possible availability for Week 1.
And then there's Clowney, who should dominate from minute one in Seattle. The team traded away a 2020 third-round pick along with linebackers Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin, essentially fleecing the Houston Texans in the process. Clowney opposite Ansah could make for a one-two punch the NFC West won't enjoy dealing with in 2019.
As far as young talent goes, though, Collier isn't the only one the Seahawks are pinning their hopes on, and second-year defensive tackle Poona Ford has really been turning heads in camp this year. He could be poised to break out in 2019 (once completely healthy) and that would help relieve pressure on both Ansah and Clowney and Collier -- allowing more one-on-one matchups across the board. Who the Seahawks won't have in tow to begin the season is Jarran Reed. from getting his first crack at 2019 football until Oct. 20, when they host the Baltimore Ravens -- in the homecoming game for a familiar All-Pro free safety.
Nickerson joins the fold via Clowney trade, and looks to add depth at the nickel corner role.
For the Seahawks, the special teams unit is easily the one with the least amount of flux.
There's no competition here to speak of, with Jason Myers signing a four-year, $15.45 million contract this offseason after a Pro Bowl season with the New York Jets and an uneven one-year showing by a 40-year-old Sebastian Janikowski in Seattle. Whereas Janikowski struggled to an 81.5 percent accuracy rate, Myers made good on 91.7 percent of his kicks in 2018.
The rest is pretty much par for the course, especially with the speedy J.D. McKissic no longer in the mix at returner.
|Emmanuel Ellerbee||DL||Injured Reserve|
|Justin Johnson||TE||Injured Reserve|
|Adam Choice||RB||Injured Reserve|
|Demetrius Knox||OL||Injured Reserve|
|Nazair Jones||DL||Injured Reserve|
|Kalan Reed||CB||Injured Reserve|
The biggest name to note here is obviously Reed, who will be forced to sit the first six games due to suspension. Simmons, Christmas and Haynes are all nursing injury, and this list will grow by at least two if cornerback Jeremy Boykins and linebacker Justin Curry clear waivers.
They were both waived/injured, and will revert to the Seahawks IR if unclaimed.