The Seattle Seahawks lost their only (pseudo) fullback for the season on Thursday when tight end/fullback Brandon Cottom tore his Achilles, by all accounts. After carrying two fullbacks for the majority of 2015 - Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu - the Seahawks entered 2016's training camp with zero players listed at the position. Cottom was one of eight tight ends and expected to fill a fullback role in Seattle's offense. Now, with that fullback number really sitting at zero, where will the Seahawks turn?
The one-time fan favorite wasn't re-signed this offseason, due in large part to his legal issues: Coleman was charged with two felonies in June as a result of a hit-and-run incident last summer. He could face up to 14 months in jail if convicted, so it's safe to assume Coleman will not be an option for the Seahawks moving forward, as long as his legal situation remains unresolved.
Tukuafu played fullback for Seattle over the past two seasons while Coleman fought off injuries and endured legal troubles. The 280-pounder was good as a blocker, filled in on the defensive line when needed, and scored his first career touchdown last season. Although the team showed little interest in bringing back Tukuafu earlier this offseason, he could be a real possibility now.
The rookie free agent signed by the Seahawks following the 2016 draft was used at fullback during rookie minicamp and OTAs, as well as his usual running back spot. Madden's biggest failing in college was his inability to stay healthy, an issue that's once again reared its hurting head, with the former Trojan currently out with a shoulder injury. Smaller than even Coleman at 6'0" and 223-pounds, Madden's body just wouldn't be cut out for 16 games at the fullback position.
The former Washington Husky and current defensive tackle was bandied about as a possible option at fullback following his signing as a rookie free agent, but has worked almost exclusively along the defensive line throughout the offseason. At 6'1" and 284 pounds, Tupou fits the fullback mold much closer to a Tukuafu than a Coleman or Madden. Per the Seattle Times' Bob Condotta, Tupou filled in at fullback to close Thursday's practice, and even made a one-handed catch with a cast on his other hand. I think the team prefers to go with a smaller player at the position, but Tupou could be an option moving forward.
Another rookie free agent and another defensive lineman, Bryant is actually listed as a FB/DT on the Seattle Seahawks website, although it was Tupou, not Bryant, who made the switch to offense to end Thursday's practice session. That could be telling, or could not be. Per Zach Whitman's 3SigmaAthlete.com Bryant was a top-13 percentile athlete coming out of Florida Atlantic, but at 6'2" and 289 pounds, the same applies for Bryant as it does for Tupou: while he could potentially fill the position, I believe the team would prefer signing a smaller fullback off the streets than have Bryant or Tupou make the switch.
Outside free agents
Despite all the names with familiarity to the Seahawks capable of playing fullback, there's also the option of a street free agent coming in. Most notably, long-time Green Bay Packer John Kuhn is available, although he's now 31-years old and could still be holding out for a Packer reunion. Other free agent fullbacks that played in the NFL last year are names like Tyler Clutts and Jorvorskie Lane, while converted linebacker Ryan Mueller, who spent 2016 on the Eagles practice squad, could also be an option.
Brandon Cottom's injury is yet another disappointing turn in the promising athlete's career, but Seattle doesn't lack options at the position moving forward. If I had to venture a guess, I think the team will move forward with a player that's familiar with the Seahawks, be it a player currently on the roster, or the return of Tukuafu.