Today is day one of training camp, so without any hesitation I’m taking a stab in the dark at what the roster of the Seattle Seahawks will look like after the team pares things down to 53 on August 31.
Russell Wilson and somebody we hope never sees the field.
Let’s be honest, if Russell goes down, the outlook for the season is pretty bleak. The Hawks could realistically sign me to be the backup quarterback because if Russ isn’t taking snaps, any thoughts of the postseason are likely out the window. That said, I’d expect Geno Smith to get the nod over Paxton Lynch for the simple reason that Lynch has $600k in guaranteed base salary that the Denver Broncos will be paying this season. Thus, Seattle can have Smith on the 53 and Lynch on the practice squad and it doesn’t burn up a year of team control for Lynch while Smith provides some adequate level of backup.
Running Back (4+1):
Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Bo Scarbrough, J.D. McKissic and Nick Bellore (FB)
Carson returns to fill the starting role he’s won in each of 2017 and 2018, while Penny should step into part of the backup role that Mike Davis filled in 2018. In addition, in spite of being categorized as a Return Specialist, I feel confident that McKissic will see some action in the two minute offense and as a third down back.
Bellore will likely see a lot of special teams duty while playing a half dozen offensive snaps per game at fullback, just as Tre Madden did last year, and rounding out the running back room should be Scarbrough, who is the type of big, physical back that Carroll loves.
Wide Receiver (7):
Tyler Lockett, David Moore, Jaron Brown, DK Metcalf, Gary Jennings, Keenan Reynolds and Amara Darboh
This is likely more receivers than many fans expect the team to keep, but the Hawks kept seven receivers heading into 2014 after losing Golden Tate and facing uncertainty with rookie Paul Richardson and Percy Harvin. Of those seven there were multiple contributors on special teams, and I anticipate there are likely to be significant special teams contributions from this group during the 2019 season.
That all said, I believe that there is a very good chance that they may not keep seven receivers throughout the year. Whether that means releasing Brown midseason if he isn’t pulling his weight, like they did with Brandon Marshall during 2018, or whether an injury pushes someone to injured reserve, I don’t expect the team to keep seven at the position for the full year.
Tight End (3):
Ed Dickson, Will Dissly and Nick Vannett
The coaching staff seems to like Tyrone Swoopes enough to have kept him around for the past two seasons, and they’ve been able to move him on and off the practice squad as needed. With a year of practice squad eligibility left, there’s no rush to burn a year of team control, and he can continue to hone his craft while Dickson and Vannett earn snaps as Dissly continues to work his way back from the torn patellar tendon. If there is a surprise cut or trade of one of the tight ends, I will not be surprised to see Vannett cut or traded as he heads into the final season of his rookie contract. Of course, I said the same thing about Luke Willson a couple of years back, and the team not only kept him through the end of his rookie deal, they brought him back for a fifth season as well.
With George Fant able to provide a fourth option at tight end, Jacob Hollister and Justin Johnson could end up as the odd men out.
Offensive Line (9):
Duane Brown (LT), Mike Iupati (LG), Justin Britt (C), D.J. Fluker (RG), Germain Ifedi (RT), Fant (Swing T), Phil Haynes (G), Jordan Simmons (G), Ethan Pocic (C/G)
Health permitting, the starters along the offensive line are likely to be pretty well set. However, the competition for depth will be strong, specifically on the interior of the line. Fant likely has the swing tackle spot on lockdown, with rookie Phil Haynes and second year guard Jordan Simmons seeming to have the inside tracks on the backup guard spots. Carrying an extra guard or two would also seem to make sense given the injury histories of Iupati and Fluker, while allowing Pocic to focus more on being the backup at center.
That said, I will not be at all surprised if the Hawks take any opportunity they can to trade Pocic for a late round pick, or even a conditional pick, if the opportunity presents itself. Entering his third season he has yet to establish himself in any role on the offensive line, and he’s not the type of big, bruising mauler that offensive line coach Mike Solari prefers. Thus, don’t be surprised if a team that liked him coming out of LSU two years ago may be willing to offer something for the former second round pick.
This leaves the offense at 26 players, which means the defense would have 24 spots available. As noted above, this would only be to open the season, and when Jarran Reed is eligible to return from his suspension prior to the Week 7 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, the Hawks will have had a chance to assess who has been contributing and who hasn’t and can trim the offense from 26 to 25. Perhaps that means waiving a young receiver and hoping they slide through to the practice squad, or perhaps it means cutting an unproductive veteran. In any case, the roster this season may be even more of a work in progress for the duration of the season than is usually the case.