Seattle Seahawks Roster Analysis

Here’s the first positional roster analysis for 2011 as we head into the combine in just over a week. With rosters expanded to 80 players, this is more of a rough, overall look at roster projections for the upcoming season, with Seattle expected to have 24 free agents whenever the free agent period begins this year.

So we take a first look at what issues the Seahawks will need to address in the next couple months through the draft and free agency.

Also, with the league letting teams know that franchise and transition tags are in play,  I suspect that only Brandon Mebane and Olindo Mare will be possibilities for the franchise tag for Seattle.


Number kept last season: Three
Currently on roster: Three
Average number kept since 2008: Three
Looking good: Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst,
Longer odds: Nate Davis, J.P. Losman
Comment – I think with the current uncertainty of the CBA and based on how Hasselbeck played in the postseason, it makes sense for the Seahawks to bring back the 35-year-old quarterback on something like a two-year deal. However, if somehow the owners and players get something worked out and free agency takes place sooner instead of later, don’t be surprised if Hasselbeck tests the market to see what his value is. I’m interested to see how Davis fits into the equation at this position and if the team will draft a quarterback early to develop for the future. With the way they are situated now and the many needs at other positions, perhaps it makes sense for Seattle to pass on a quarterback in this year’s draft. I don’t expect the offense to change a whole lot with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who has a West Coast offense background and likely will use similar verbiage as Jeremy Bates did. Also, the fact that Bevell worked with a veteran quarterback like Brett Favre the past, two seasons helps Seattle if Hasselbeck returns. Bevell should have no problems dealing with the 35-year-old quarterback if he starts to throw the ball to the other team, as Hasselbeck did during stretches of the 2010 season.

Running back
Number kept last season: Four
Currently on roster: Five
Average number kept since 2008: Five
Locks: Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch
Looking good: Leon Washington, Michael Robinson
Longer odds: Chris Henry
Comment – Lynch is signed through 2012, but by achieving some minimal-level playing requirements the final year would void, making his contract over at the end of the 2011 season. Forsett’s rookie deal ends in 2011. I think the Cal products still provide a nice, 1-2 punch for Seattle. Washington is an unrestricted free agent, and the Seahawks likely want him back. But he might find a better fit elsewhere with a team that will use his services more on offense. Robinson, also a free agent, appeared to be a nice fit because of his versatility and special teams play. However, the Seahawks might want to get a bigger, more physical fullback like a Lorenzo Neal-type to help clear the way for Lynch in the running game. Overall, this group looks pretty solid and I would be surprised if the Seahawks drafted a running back early.

Wide receiver
Number kept last season: Six
Currently on roster: 9
Average number kept since 2008: 5.7
Locks: Mike Williams, Ben Obomanu, Golden Tate, Deon Butler.
In the hunt: Brandon Stokely, Ruvell Martin
Longer Odds: Dominique Edison, Patrick Williams, Chris Carter, Isaiah Stanback.
Comment – Williams and Obomanu both received 3-year deals and give Seattle a solid, young nucleus heading into the offseason. Now it’s up to the Seahawks to develop second-round picks Butler and Tate into some explosive playmakers to add some punch to this receiving group. Stokely and Martin are free agents, and both have a chance to return because of their contributions last season. And both Edison and Patrick Williams showed flashes during their time on the scout squad last year that they could develop into contributors in the future. Both possesses explosive speed down the field. It’s unlikely that Seattle uses an early draft pick on a receiver, although they still lack a true No. 1 receiver who can win on the outside on a consistent basis. Maybe Williams develops into that guy, although he still lacks top-end speed as a deep threat.

Tight end
Number kept last season: Four
Currently on roster: Six
Average number kept since 2008: 3.3
Locks: John Carlson, Cameron Morrah
Looking good: Anthony McCoy, Chris Baker
Longer odds: Jameson Konz, Dominique Byrd
Comment – Again, I think this is one of the stronger position groups on the roster. I liked the way Morrah came on in the second half of the season, and I think Carlson looked more comfortable as the regular tight end on the line of scrimmage instead of the H-back or Tiger being used in motion or flexed out. The Seahawks used two-tight end sets more than 40 percent of the time under Jeremy Bates system, so perhaps that changes with new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell now in the fold. But I think Carlson, Morrah, Baker and McCoy, all under contract through 2011, give Seattle talent and depth at this position, while Konz and Byrd are developmental guys with potential.

Offensive line

Number kept last season: 11
Currently on roster: 15
Average number kept since 2008: 10
Locks: Russell Okung, Max Unger, Tyler Polumbus.
In the hunt: Chris Spencer, Mike Gibson, Sean Locklear, Chris White, Chester Pitts, Breno Giacomini, William Robinson, Ray Willis, Lemuel Jeanpierre.
Longer odds: Stacy Andrews, Paul Fanaika, Caz Piurowski
Comment – With 16 different starting offensive line combinations in two seasons, the main problem with the offensive line has been an inability to develop consistency and cohesion because of all the shuffling up front due to injuries. And with the uncertainty of the CBA negotiations affecting how much time players will get with new offensive line coach Tom Cable, I think it would be wise for Seattle to keep as many of the players from last season that they think can play in Cable’s system to ease that transition. That said, Seattle still needs a talented left guard to pair with Okung and more consistent play at right tackle. Locklear’s play was uneven this season, but part of that had to do with nagging injuries he played through, and I felt he actually played okay in the last game against the Rams and the two playoff games. Locklear is a free agent, along with center Chris Spencer, the only lineman to start in every game this season. At 28 years old, Spencer likely will receive some interest in free agency if Seattle does not decide to bring him back. Unger could slide into center if Spencer leaves. If not, he’ll likely get another shot to start at right guard, competing with Gibson. Pitts and Willis also are free agents who could return to add depth up front. Stacy Andrews is set to earn $5.45 million in base salary next season. Pair that with the fact that he was a healthy scratch at the end of the regular season, and that leads me to believe Seattle has little interest in bringing him back. But maybe Cable will see something that Pete Carroll did not.

Defensive line
Number kept last season: Nine
Currently on roster: 15
Average number kept since 2008: Nine
Locks: Colin Cole, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Dexter Davis .
In the hunt: Brandon Mebane, Raheem Brock, Craig Terrill, Kentwan Balmer, Junior Siavii.
Longer odds: Jay Richardson, Derek Walker, A.J. Schable, Amon Gordon, Jay Alford, Barrett Moen.
Comment – Mebane likely will be an unrestricted free agent, depending on what happens with the new CBA. A four-year starter who appears to be a good fit in Seattle’s defense and pairs nicely with Cole, I would suspect that Mebane returns unless he receives a sweeter deal elsewhere. Brock, Richardson, Terrill, Siavii and Gordon also are free agents. Among those, Brock seems the most likely guy to return, although he turns 33 in June. The Seahawks could use a young, dominant pass rusher to develop along with Clemons, and with several talented defensive line prospects expected to go in the first round, they might look to draft someone to help beef up the depth along the defensive line. Losing Bryant to a knee injury against the Raiders proved how important it is to have quality depth at both defensive end positions. The departure of defensive line coach Dan Quinn also will hurt Seattle. However, Todd Wash worked with defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Tampa Bay and should have a good understanding of how to get this group going after working in a 4-3 system with the Bucs.

Number kept last season: Six
Currently on roster: Eight
Average number kept since 2008: Six
Locks: Lofa Tatupu, Aaron Curry, David Hawthorne,
In the hunt: Will Herring, Leroy Hill, Matt McCoy
Longer odds: Joe Pawelek, Anthony Heygood
Comment – Herring likely will be an unrestricted agent and will receive some attention if he reaches the open market. Herring showed versatility with his ability to play all three linebacker positions, and played a lot during passing situations. The possibility of Herring leaving in free agency opens the door for the return of Hill. The Clemson product has dealt with his share of injuries and off-the-field issues, but when healthy, Hill can still play. The issue is can he get back to his former playing level. Tatupu is another player looking to turn back the clock. He had surgeries on both knees this offseason and is due to make $4.35 million in base salary in 2011. He played a full, 16-game season for the first time in three years and even though he looked step slow last year, he’s got the best instincts of any linebacker on the team and I think he can still play. Curry is due to make a little over $10 million in total compensation in 2011, making it even more important for Carroll to find a role for the Wake Forest product to reach his vast potential. McCoy is a free agent and led Seattle in special teams tackles with 19 during the regular season.

Number kept last season: Six
Currently on roster: Eight
Average number kept since 2008: 4.7
Locks: Marcus Trufant, Walter Thurmond
In the hunt:Roy Lewis, Kelly Jennings.
On the bubble: Marcus Brown, Josh Pinkard, Kennard Cox, Brandon Browner.
Comment – Trufant will earn $5.9 million base salary in the fourth year of his six-year deal in 2011. The Tacoma native turned 30 on Christmas day, and has been slowed due to back and head injuries. Trufant has $16 million coming in 2012-13 – that means a restructure is likely coming after next season. Jennings is a free agent, and the Seahawks might be willing to part ways with the Miami product that has struggled matching up with bigger corners. However, NFL-quality corners are hard to find, and the Seahawks may want Jennings around while Thurmond continues to learn the game. Both Brown and Pinkard have flashed potential while on the scout squad during practice. Brown has the size (6-0, 195 pounds) Carroll likes on the outside, and is one of the fastest players on the team, while Pinkard offers versatility to play both outside and inside the slot like Jordan Babineaux. Cox was a key special teams player who blocked a punt during the 2010 season.

Number kept last season: Four
Currently on roster: Five
Average number kept since 2008: Four
Locks:Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor
In the hunt: Jordan Babineaux, Lawyer Milloy
Longer odds: James Brindley
Comment – A lot on this group will hinge on whether Milloy comes back for another season. A free agent, if the Tacoma native decides to return, then Seattle likely will look to fill in depth with younger players. However, if Milloy does not return, then expect the team to keep Babineaux around for another season as a versatile defender who gives Seattle some experience in the back end while Chancellor likely assumes Milloy’s role as the starting strong safety.

Specialists kept last season: Three
Currently on roster: Three
Average number kept since 2008: 3.3
Locks: (P) Jon Ryan, (LS) Clint Gresham.
Looking good: (K) Olindo Mare
Comment – Ryan is signed through 2015 and Gresham through 2012. Mare was franchised last year at $2.81 million and could be franchised again this season, although at 37 years old he would like a multi-year deal. The projected franchise tag for kickers is $3.26 million, and the transition tag is $2.956 million. Philadelphia kicker David Akers received the transition tag from the Eagles.