Seattle has too many talented defensive linemen. The most layered, deep and dynamic tackle and end rotation still could not offer enough snaps for the starters: Patrick Kerney, Colin Cole, Brandon Mebane and Cory Redding; the primary backups: Darryl Tapp, Red Bryant, Craig Terrill and Lawrence Jackson; and the super subs: Nick Reed, Michael Bennett and Baraka Atkins. Throw in Aaron Curry as a situational defensive end and Seattle has the numbers to field two starting defensive lines.
Too much talent is typically good, but Seattle's talent is too good to stash. Only Reed and Bennett have practice squad eligibility, and neither would pass through waivers unclaimed. The Seahawks own a good problem, but a problem nonetheless and problem it must unknot by tomorrow. It has three basic plays: Cut talent, lean on depth or attempt a trade.
If Seattle cuts talent it must decide which player is most dispensable. Terrill is a situational pass rusher that's been surpassed by Redding and likely Bennett. He only plays one position and only in one capacity. Terrill is 29 and entering the most expensive seasons of his contract. His $1.25 million base salary is not expensive relative to all defensive tackles, but expensive compared to tackles that play limited snaps as part of a rotation.
Terrill is a big part of the team and if expendable in a pure football sense, probably not expendable in an organizational sense. Cutting him is sensible but unlikely. Atkins would be the next likely target. A former fourth round pick now with two years experience, Atkins is a defensive end on a team overrunning with them. He is a lean, athletic project-pick that showed signs of turning the corner last season. His tools are miles ahead of Nick Reed's and better even than Michael Bennett's, but Atkins has never shown a sustained run of dominance like each has over the last four preseason games. Seattle is two deep at Atkins' position, left defensive end, but starter Redding is a free agent after this season and primary depth Jackson has yet to prove he should start. The team will likely keep Derek Walker on the practice squad, but Walker has proven valuable enough this preseason that he might be targeted by another team.
Seattle might be forced to cut someone, but it is clearly the least desirable of its options. If it cuts someone, it will likely cut Atkins and that's a bad play. The Seahawks drafted Atkins knowing his skills would take years to catch up to his tools. Dropping him after two seasons of growth, including a showing against the Patriots unmatched by Reed, Bennett or Jackson, would be aborting a near mature investment. Tim Ruskell and staff are considering this option, but only as a fallback.