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After Sunday, Seahawks will need roster spots

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

On Sunday the Seattle Seahawks will take their 4-1 record on the road to face the Cleveland Browns in a matchup featuring two second place teams, rather than two first place teams, thanks to Cleveland’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Regardless of the outcome of the Week 6 game between these two teams, however, it’s all but guaranteed that at least one player, if not more than one player, currently on the Seahawks 53 man roster will be released prior to the Hawks hosting the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7.

First, Jarran Reed’s six week suspension for his 2017 domestic incident ends after the game on Sunday, and the team will need to create a roster spot for his return. Beyond Reed, however, both Phil Haynes and Demarcus Christmas are eligible to return from the PUP list after the Week 6 game, and adding either or both of them to the 53 man roster would require the creation of a roster spot.

Thus, the question obviously becomes whose roster spot will those players take? Let’s take a look through the players whose spots would seem most likely to be freed up.

Joey Hunt

While many fans love Hunt, in spite of both starting guards D.J. Fluker and Mike Iupati having missing time due to injury through the first five games of the season, Hunt has seen just a single snap of action on offense so far this season. That lone snap came in relief of Iupati against the New Orleans Saints in Week 3, a game for which Ethan Pocic was inactive. Thus, it would appear as though Hunt is at the bottom of the depth chart at the guard position, especially considering that when Fluker left the game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5 with a hamstring injury, the team opted to go to Jamarco Jones rather than Hunt.

What it appears to boil down to is that the top five at guard once Haynes is returned to the roster would seem to be Fluker, Iupati, Jones, Pocic and Haynes, which leaves Hunt as the odd man out. Thus, with Pocic apparently the top backup to Britt at Center, Hunt appears to be no higher than third on the depth chart at any of the interior offensive line positions.

On top of all of that, Hunt is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason, which likely means the team would non-tender him because there seems little point in paying more than $2M to a player who is on pace to play three offensive snaps this year. Therefore, the options are to see Hunt potentially leave as an unrestricted free agent in the spring or to waive him and give him an opportunity to show another team and coaching staff what he can do over the next three months. (Author’s note: Before anyone jumps into the comments and says it’s better to let him leave as an UFA so that he would count towards comp picks, he would not. Non-tendered RFAs become UFAs who are not counted in comp pick tabulations.)

Gary Jennings

Jennings, the first of the team’s three fourth round draft selections in 2019, has been a healthy scratch in all five games the Seahawks have played after having a quiet preseason. A hamstring injury sidelined him for much of the offseason, landing him behind the learning curve at a position that is one of the most difficult to master in the NFL. Add in that Tyler Lockett has spent the first five weeks doing what he does, DK Metcalf has performed as has been asked of him, while David Moore, Jaron Brown and Malik Turner are set to replace the production Doug Baldwin took with him in his departure. Even on top of that, however, Will Dissly has been everything Seattle fans had hoped for and more in his return from a patellar tendon injury, and at the moment there is not a lot of need for yet another receiving threat.

Putting that all together, each week that Jennings is inactive and the other young receivers continue to blossom seems to weaken Jennings’ job security. Now, the Hawks apparently thought about waiving Jennings once, but then got cold feet and decided to waive Bryan Mone instead.

Now, in Jennings’ favor is the fact that the team has been relatively healthy so far this season. They’ve had smaller health issues they’ve had to deal with, but the last player the team placed on injured reserve was Ed Dickson on September 2. With six of the seven players who were inactive for the Week 5 game against the Rams having been healthy scratches, the team hasn’t needed to dig deep when a certain position has been beaten up. That means it’s possible that the team could feel it is able to maneuver and play the players it needs while keeping Jennings on the roster.

Branden Jackson

Jackson is in a similar boat as Hunt, as he’s set to be a RFA after the season, but is not currently logging many snaps. He averaged 40 snaps a game over the first two weeks of the year, but with Ziggy Ansah’s return and now first round draft pick L.J. Collier working into the team’s rotations on the defensive line, Jackson’s snaps have dipped significantly. He played only 13 snaps against the Rams, and that was with Collier inactive and Reed still suspended. So, with Collier being given more playing time going forward according to Carroll, Ansah having seen an increase in snaps and Rasheem Green showing why he was a third round pick, Jackson could wind up the odd many out.

How exactly the team winds up creating the roster spot or spots necessary when Reed, Hayne and/or Christmas return won’t be known for several days, and there are certainly other names that could be put on the list of who could be waived. That said, this is getting ahead of things, because for now it’s time to beat the Browns on Sunday morning.