When the Seattle Seahawks waived Kasen Williams at final cuts last year, it was local headline news. Here are some of the comments from a year ago:
“I don’t see how a healthy Kasen Williams does not become a very good receiver in the NFL”
“How did Kasen Williams get cut? Him and Chris Carson were the talk of camp and Kasen absolutely balled out in the pre-season.”
“From Richard Sherman’s reaction, Kasen Williams must have been good in practice also...I am disappointed that the Seahawks cut someone of his potential.”
“The Seahawk WR’s must be pretty good...Williams was cut and will likely start for the Browns.”
And on Twitter:
.@Seahawks Wait... What?! I don't know what more he could've done. All chips in on defense I guess!! #snubs #nfl #seahawks https://t.co/KgvEmeCQlB— Lawyer Milloy (@LawyerMilloy) September 2, 2017
Richard Sherman clearly baffled by the #Seahawks decision to cut Kasen Williams pic.twitter.com/Wcu2RRdUGm— Jessamyn McIntyre (@JessamynMcIntyr) September 2, 2017
Kasen showed he belonged and brought a unique skill set to that WR group https://t.co/vqsNW8zlLq— Jake Heaps (@jtheaps9) September 2, 2017
Kasen Williams is not gonna last long on waivers. He and Kearse could be the starters in NY!— Cian (@Cianaf) September 2, 2017
So yes, the Seahawks cut Williams, a few people got mad about it, to their credit many others did not overreact to the news and saw Williams as a guy who can basically do one thing really well and not much else, and then the Cleveland Browns made him the top player selected off of waivers. He was on the worst team in the NFL and while that meant having perhaps the worst QB situation in the league, Williams also had every opportunity to stand out on a bad roster.
He was targeted 18 times and finished the season with nine catches for 84 yards.
A similar thing happened with Troymaine Pope in 2016. He was released at final cuts, some fans got mad, he was immediately picked up by the New York Jets, and Pope had one carry for one yard with that team. Pope returned to Seattle and had 11 carries for 43 yards. He did not play in 2017 and is currently fighting for a job with the Houston Texans.
This doesn’t mean that the Seahawks won’t cut players who go on to do good things elsewhere — Alex Collins, who fans were more ready to get rid of because he was a draft pick who they felt didn’t do enough to warrant a selection, played pretty well for the Baltimore Ravens last season — it just means that sometimes the guy who has a really good preseason and enters the spotlight and then doesn’t make the final 53 may just not be NFL quality. The coaches see and know a lot more than preseason results (also, much of the Kasen hype was built around nine catches in four exhibition games) and a lot will factor into their decisions over the coming weeks.
So who will be the Kasen Williams or Troymaine Pope of 2018? There’s a number of candidates.
Poona Ford, DT
In our recent look at how six roster bubble players performed against the Colts in Seattle’s preseason debut, this was the top comment:
And some would even say that Poona isn’t on the bubble because he’s already made the roster. That’s probably not the case. I mean, Poona could absolutely be in the lead for a roster spot at defensive tackle, but he could also still be battling from behind because of whatever factors made him go undrafted in April.
As weird as it may sound, I wonder how many people have been rooting for Poona Ford from the beginning because his name is Poona Ford.
There’s also the fact that he was one of the most high priority free agents after the draft with a reputation for being a team leader at Texas, plus he’s a 5’11 ball of energy that you just wanna root for, but Poona would be one of the shortest defensive linemen of the modern game if he makes an NFL roster. That hasn’t stopped Russell Wilson, and I’m not saying it will stop Ford, who could end up being a very good player, I’m only implying that it would be surprising if Ford has already locked down a spot on the team.
Seattle will absolutely be keeping Jarran Reed and Nazair Jones, while Tom Johnson looks like a good fit for the Seahawks. Pete Carroll rolled with four defensive tackles last season, so if he did that again, it boils to a competition between Shamar Stephen, Joey Ivie, and Ford, basically. Plus, you can’t discount Carroll’s penchant for reaching out externally for help after final cuts are announced by other teams or making a trade. The big one would seem to be Ford beating out Stephen, and why couldn’t Stephen, a former starter for the Minnesota Vikings, be a better option to keep?
Shamar Stephen somehow making this play from the ground. pic.twitter.com/HS0UED5xCf— Lifelong Lakers Fan ⛹️ (@NathanE11) August 11, 2018
Ford could get cut. And I think that would make some fans falsely claim that they are no longer Seahawks fans because of it.
Shaquem Griffin, LB
Oh man, just thinking about what this cut would do to Twitter kind of blew my mind a little bit.
I think Shaquem is going to make the team, but logically speaking, all fifth round rookies are subject to the possibility that they couldn’t quite do enough to make the roster over someone else. Of course, Shaquem has also performed well in practices, by all accounts, and had a pretty good game against the Colts, though PFF called it a “mixed bag” that included a missed tackle.
But Seattle kept seven linebackers last season at final cuts and Griffin is likely to at least play a lot on special teams. He doesn’t have a ton of competition at the moment and with the injury to Dion Jordan, it has made the linebackers group even thinner with Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin playing more at the line. Griffin is going to make the final 53, but if he didn’t, the city might literally break in half.
Dream come true @ShaquillG pic.twitter.com/toiC39ICrn— shaquem griffin (@Shaquemgriffin) August 10, 2018
Michael Dickson, P
I mean, they could have cut Jon Ryan a long time ago, but they are allowing some sort of competition obviously. It could just be that the Seahawks want Ryan around for four months to teach Dickson everything he knows about punting and the NFL. They also might just have a ton of respect for their longest-tenured player and want him around, plus give him an opportunity to showcase his talents for sure rather than possibly sitting at home and waiting for a call.
Or maybe there’s just a tiny chance that Ryan could beat out Dickson for a job.
I really don’t think that’s going to happen — Seattle’s had too many struggles in the punting game for the last few years and Ryan’s just a little too costly — but if it did, we’d get to see Seahawks fans delete their Twitter accounts over a rookie punter.
It’s exciting to think about.
Jan 2015: first time punting an American football.— Michael Dickson (@mdcksn) August 12, 2018
Sept 2015: my first football game.
August 2018: my first NFL game.
Akeem King, CB
Not a player that I think many fans were even aware of until Thursday night, King has quickly developed a cult following and I think could be the fastest riser in terms of “Player I’m gonna lose my shit over if he gets waived and picked up by the Jets.”
Cornerback might be the most settled position on the Seahawks roster, with what I would call 5 locks, but Akeem King played really well last night. Allowed just one reception, flashed good technique and length on the other two targets: pic.twitter.com/7ehKTz6sGm— Alistair Corp (@alistaircorp) August 10, 2018
PFF says Penny forced 3 missed tackles, Jamarco Jones had 11 pass block snaps w zero pressures, Akeem King played 47 snaps w a 43.8 pass rating allowed, Green had 3 total pressures on 22 pass rush snaps— DAVIS HSU (@DavisHsuSeattle) August 10, 2018
Akeem King > the other corners last night— Matty Brown (@mattyfbrown) August 10, 2018
Shaquill Griffin, Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman, and Neiko Thorpe all seem to be locks, with maybe Maxwell somehow not making the cut if another cornerback really steps up and perhaps gives Carroll the confidence to go younger. But those four seem to be in, while many fans would be equally, if not more upset should Tre Flowers get released. That makes five. Number of cornerbacks for the Seahawks last season: Five.
Should Carroll want a sixth, he’d have to keep King over veteran Dontae Johnson or Trovon Reed, who seemingly has also had an excellent camp.
Does Carroll keep King over Maxwell? Over Thorpe, one of his ace special teamers? Over Flowers, the prize of conversion projects? Or does he keep six cornerbacks? Or does King face the same fate of Pierre Desir, another cut from last year that upset many fans. (He went to the Colts, played in nine games, six starts, with one interception. He’s currently now teammates with Kasen Williams in Indy.)
It’s a tough decision, and certainly one that’s going to upset some folks either way. Prepare yourselves.
Players who may or may not upset you if released (and in many cases not likely to be released anyway): Amara Darboh, C.J. Prosise, George Fant, David Moore, Jamarco Jones, Tre Flowers, Delano Hill