A position-by-position look at the Seahawks 53-man roster following Saturday’s roster moves.
The Seahawks made a series of roster moves Saturday, including a pair of trades, to reach the 53-man limit, a process that is difficult every year, and especially this year following a training camp in which the Seahawks felt their depth was as good as it has been in years.
Seattle’s roster currently has 24 players on offense and 26 on defense, including 12 defensive backs. As has often been the case in recent years, the Seahawks’ 2016 roster will include rookies who were signed after going undrafted. As of now, six undrafted rookie free agents are on the 53-man roster: quarterback Trevone Boykin, receiver Tanner McEvoy, tackle George Fant, cornerback DeAndre Elliott, safety Tyvis Powell and long snapper Nolan Frese.
While Saturday’s moves get the Seahawks to the 53-man limit, this isn’t necessarily the 53-man roster that will face the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 11. The Seahawks will keep a close eye on players waived by other teams, and trades are always possible—last year, Christine Michael was traded a day after setting their initial 53-man roster—so there’s a decent chance that more moves will follow in the next couple of days. But for now, let’s take a position-by-position look at the Seahawks roster as it is currently constructed.
Quarterback (2): Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin
Boykin was the clear No. 2 throughout camp and the preseason, so this was expected barring an outside addition for a more experienced backup option. Seattle has kept only two quarterbacks more often than not under Carroll and general manager John Schneider, so it’s no surprise they again are going with two after waiving Jake Heaps.
Running back (4): Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael, C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins
The four running backs Seattle kept don’t come as a surprise based on what we’ve seen and heard in the preseason. Rawls and Michael should see significant carries early, with Collins backing them up, while Prosise is expected to be the third-down back.
Somewhat surprising given Seattle’s recent history is the lack of a true fullback in this group. Perhaps a fullback could be added later, or maybe there’s a player on the roster at another position who will get a look there, but with Will Tukuafu being released, the Seahawks appear to be without a fullback for the time being.
Receiver (5): Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Tanner McEvoy
Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett and Richardson were the clear top four, but less certain was what the Seahawks would do beyond that group. McEvoy took advantage of extra opportunities presented by injuries at receiver, coming up with a number of big plays in the preseason, and he also has spent time at tight end, which could prove helpful with the Week 1 status of both Jimmy Graham and Nick Vannett in question. McEvoy, who spent offseason workouts at safety, also should be able to help on special teams.
The Seahawks had six receivers on their initial 53-man roster last season, but going lighter there and in the backfield allows them to carry an additional tight end and more players on defense.
Tight end (4): Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett, Brandon Williams
As mentioned above, the Seahawks only had three tight ends most of last season, but they like what Williams provides both as a blocker and on special teams, and depth here is a plus early as Vannett recovers from an ankle injury and as Graham works his way back from last year’s knee injury. Once at full strength, this could be Seattle’s best tight end group in years, both in terms of talent and versatility because of the different strengths of the four players.
Offensive line (9): Bradley Sowell, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi, Garry Gilliam, J’Marcus Webb, Joey Hunt, Rees Odhiambo, George Fant
Four of the five starting spots appear to be set, with Sowell at left tackle, Glowinski at left guard, Britt at center and Ifedi at right guard, while it’s still uncertain who will start at right tackle between Gilliam and Webb. Both Gilliam and Webb have the flexibility to play both tackle spots, so whoever loses that competition will likely be the top backup at both spots. Draft picks Odhiambo and Hunt both stick around as backups, as does undrafted rookie Fant, who is short on experience having played basketball at Western Kentucky, but who has a lot of athletic upside.
Defensive line (9): Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Ahtyba Rubin, Tony McDaniel, Frank Clark, Jarran Reed, Quinton Jefferson, Cassius Marsh, Justin Hamilton
Not many surprises in this group, though Hamilton, who spent part of last season on the practice squad, was not a sure thing. Hamilton played well in the preseason, particularly in the final preseason game, to help his cause, and along with draft picks Reed and Jefferson, and second-year end Clark, Hamilton adds youth to an otherwise veteran group. Tony McDaniel was a later addition to the team, but despite joining the team midway through camp, the former Seahawks starter has played well and has a chance to earn significant playing time, if not a starting job.
The biggest name not on this list is Jordan Hill, who was waived/injured because of an injury sustained in Thursday’s game.
Linebacker (5): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mike Morgan, Brock Coyle, Kevin Pierre-Louis
The Seahawks are going light at linebacker with five, but can afford to do so because Marsh can play strongside linebacker as well as end. The amount of nickel defense NFL teams play these days also lends itself to going heavier on defensive backs with fewer linebackers. Morgan appears on track to open the season as a starter for the first time since joining the Seahawks in 2011 as an undrafted free agent. For depth, the Seahawks once again will rely on Coyle at middle linebacker and Pierre-Louis as an outside linebacker who can play both spots, a duo that also contributes to special teams in a big way. Eric Pinkins, a converted defensive back who was competing for the strongside linebacker job with Morgan and Marsh, was waived/injured, though he would have been in contention for a roster spot if healthy.
Defensive back (12): Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Tharold Simon, DeAndre Elliott, Tyvis Powell, Kelcie McCray, Steven Terrell, L.J. McCray, Dewey McDonald
The Seahawks added T.J. McCray and Dewey McDonald Saturday via trade, marking the second straight year they have traded for a safety on cut day after acquiring Kelcie McCray from Kansas City last year. Presumably the Seahawks added both of those players despite having Pro Bowl starters because of what they can bring on special teams. And speaking of special teams, that’s a big reason why the Seahawks have 12 defensive backs after carrying 10 on their initial 53 last year. The backup safeties in particular—McCray, McCray, McDonald, Powell, and Terrell—figure to have big special teams roles.
Elliott, an undrafted rookie out of Colorado State, earned a spot at corner ahead of 2015 fifth-round pick Tye Smith, while Marcus Burley, who has contributed both on defense and special teams over the past two seasons, was waived/injured.
Specialists (3): K Steven Hauschka, P Jon Ryan, LS Nolan Frese
There wasn’t any suspense at kicker and punter—Carroll has raved about the play of Ryan and Hauschka this preseason—but Frese did struggle a bit in preseason games while battling a shoulder injury. A solid outing in Seattle’s final preseason game might have made the difference for Frese