With three preseason games behind them, the majority of the Seattle Seahawks initial 53-man roster is settled. The bottom of the roster will see movement on cutdown day through trades and waiver claims, but largely, the camp battles are finished.
The players at the bottom of the roster will feature heavily in Seattle’s final preseason game of the year, on Thursday night at home to the Oakland Raiders. However, those players will be auditioning either for a roster spot elsewhere, or a practice squad spot, be it on the Seahawks or somewhere else.
Who can we all but scratch off the roster after three weeks of preseason, and which battles remain?
Locks: Russell Wilson
Still competing: Alex McGough, Austin Davis
Although McGough has improved every week of the preseason, the backup quarterback competition remains unchanged since the beginning of training camp. Davis would provide the team with a safe option, a veteran presence in the QB room and little else. McGough brings upside, excitement and the ability to replicate some of the league’s most difficult quarterbacks in practice.
The possibility of having McGough on the practice squad and Davis dressing on Sundays as the backup has to be enticing, but Seattle risks losing McGough by choosing that route.
Locks: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis
Likely cut: Gerald Holmes, Justin Stockton
Still competing: Tre Madden
Since being signed ahead of the Seahawks’ first preseason game, UDFA Gerald Holmes has carried the ball all of zero times. Justin Stockton, signed after Rashaad Penny suffered a finger injury, has matched Holmes’ workload. Both filled out numbers in August, but neither figure into 2018.
Madden outlasted Khalid Hill and Jalston Fowler as Seattle entered training camp with three fullbacks, but as is the case with almost any fullback in the modern NFL, his roster spot isn’t assured. There’s still a chance the Seahawks choose to keep Tyrone Swoopes or Kyle Carter as a hybrid fullback and tight end.
Alternatively, they could find another fullback during cutdowns. Madden, a constant on special teams in preseason, should be safe.
The other name, J.D. McKissic, has a tricky situation. Seattle could choose to hold onto him until he’s recovered, but that would takeaway from other spots. Otherwise, they risk losing him for nothing — a risk ultimately they may have to take.
Locks: Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Jaron Brown, David Moore, Brandon Marshall
Likely cut: Cyril Grayson, Caleb Scott, Malik Turner, Marvin Bracy
Still competing: Keenan Reynolds, Marcus Johnson, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Amara Darboh
Everything we have heard and seen during August would indicate five receiver spots are set. If there’s a sixth spot, it has four players competing for it. Despite missing the majority of the preseason, Darboh has the biggest upside and should be viewed as the most likely to stick around if a sixth receiver is kept.
The other three — Stringfellow, Reynolds and Johnson — have all flashed in the preseason, but haven’t done enough to carve out a role. Outside of Darboh, Reynolds has the most valuable combination of special team contribution and offensive upside, both of which were on display on Friday night.
The obvious cuts haven’t done anything to impress, with the exception of Grayson on the final drive of Seattle’s loss to the Chargers.
Locks: Ed Dickson, Will Dissly, Nick Vannett
Likely cut: Clayton Wilson
Still competing: Tyrone Swoopes, Kyle Carter
Signed after rookie minicamp, Wilson only came off the PUP list last week and it’s just far too little far too late for the fluid UDFA.
Outlined above, Swoopes and Carter’s best shot at the 53-man roster is doing enough as a blocker to convince the Seahawks one of them is worth keeping hold of as a hybrid player. More likely, Swoopes is a practice squad candidate for a second season, while Carter is released. Brian Schottenheimer expressed concerns over Swoopes’ rawness on Thursday, saying one day Swoopes looks like he’s getting it, then the next he looks “Like a former quarterback.”
Locks: Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Isaiah Battle
Likely cut: Willie Beavers
For a moment, as Jones and Battle were lost within plays of one another, it looked as though Beavers might win a roster spot by virtue of staying healthy. But Battle’s injury was minor and he should remain the team’s backup right tackle. On the other side, Fant will backup Brown, while continuing to see reps and push Ifedi at right tackle. Jones’ season is likely over, although not official yet.
Locks: Ethan Pocic, Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker
Likely cut: Skyler Phillips, Marcus Henry
Still competing: Jordan Roos, Rees Odhiambo, J.R. Sweezy, Joey Hunt
Phillips, who I thought of as one of the standout members of Seattle’s UDFA class, hasn’t made any sort of roster push during the preseason. He was unable to crack the second unit throughout camp and his most noteworthy play of the preseason was dropping his head and lunging in pass protection, resulting in a sack of McGough against the Colts.
Released after the first week of camp, Henry was brought back when the team saw J.R. Sweezy suffer an ankle injury in his first practice. Like Phillips, Henry just never made a legitimate roster push.
Although only Hunt is a natural center, it feels like Roos, Odhiambo and Hunt are competing for two roster spots. Meanwhile, Sweezy is battling his body; a healthy Sweezy would surely make the 53-man roster and provide excellent depth. As it stands, I’d expect Sweezy, Odhiambo and Roos to all make the roster.
Locks: Shamar Stephen, Jarran Reed, Tom Johnson, Nazair Jones, Poona Ford, Quinton Jefferson
Likely cut: Joey Ivie
The make up of the Seahawks’ defensive line is absolutely fascinating at the moment. The most sensible breakdown — in a group that has usually consisted of nine players total — is six defensive tackles and just three defensive ends. That’s unbalanced, but they’ll be counting on EDGE snaps from Jefferson, Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin, as well.
If that’s the direction Seattle chooses to go, just Ivie would be released from the current group.
Locks: Frank Clark, Branden Jackson, Rasheem Green
Likely cut: Ricky Ali’ifua
As outlined above, just Clark, Jackson and Green stick as defensive ends (with Dion Jordan remaining on the PUP into the season). If preseason is any indication, the two SAM ‘backers, Martin and Mingo, will see a lot of snaps off the edge in sub packages, while Jefferson could even start on the edge in base packages.
Ali’ifua hasn’t done much of note in camp, but could certainly be a practice squad candidate.
Locks: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Shaquem Griffin, Jacob Martin, Barkevious Mingo
Likely cut: Emmanuel Beal, Josh Forrest, Jason Hall
Still competing: D.J. Alexander, Jake Pugh, Austin Calitro, Erik Walden
After being beaten out by Martin, Pugh is a very likely practice squad candidate. I outlined why Calitro could be a surprise inclusion before Friday’s game, and nothing during the Vikings loss made me second guess that. Alexander has been a special teams mainstay during his time in Seattle, but has missed a good portion of August and may have been beaten out by Calitro. Walden, signed just prior to the loss in Los Angeles, is competing at a three-deep SAM position and likely arrived too late, despite flashing against the Vikings.
Beal, a UDFA, began camp as Wagner’s backup, but was quickly passed by Calitro. Forrest and Hall have had quiet (and short) stints on the roster, although either one could land on the practice squad.
Locks: Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman, Tre Flowers
Likely cut: Elijah Battle, Trovon Reed
Still competing: Akeem King, Neiko Thorpe, Jeremy Boykins, Dontae Johnson, Byron Maxwell
Re-signed by the team earlier in the week, Battle is coming in too late to ever really enter the conversation. Reed began camp excellently, but an injury slowed down his progress considerably as others passed him.
Maxwell is still clinging to the other outside cornerback spot, despite Johnson’s best efforts. If Thorpe can get healthy, he will be a member of the team due to his excellent play on special teams. King began camp and preseason brightly, but hasn’t done enough to pass the two veterans ahead of him. Boykins has impressed with his play and brash personality, but the practice squad remains his most likely destination.
Locks: Bradley McDougald, Tedric Thompson
Likely cut: T.J. Mutcherson
Still competing: Maurice Alexander, Delano Hill, Mike Tyson, Lorenzo Jerome
Signed after the team’s rookie minicamp, Mutcherson has had a very quiet camp as he continues to struggle to get healthy. He was quickly passed on the depth chart by Jerome, who was signed shortly after camp began in late July.
At least one of Alexander or Hill should be a lock to make the roster, but it remains to be seen which it is. Alexander should be favored currently, however both are likely to stick barring any changes to Earl Thomas’s situation.
Jerome has seen a good amount of snaps at free safety once the Seahawks have gone to the bench in preseason, but like Boykins, the practice squad seems likely after impressing in his short time in Seattle.
Tyson, who surprisingly started camp at safety after spending 2017 converting to corner, has had a rough preseason playing out of the slot and at safety. The practice squad is certainly a possibility for him, as well.