Three preseason games are now in the books, and at this point, almost all of the Seahawks’ roster is in ink. Just a handful of spots are up for grabs with one game remaining—if that. Seattle’s going to have some difficult choices to make across the roster, and the initial 53 will not reflect the one that takes on the Bengals in Week 1; more movement will surely follow shortly after it’s finalized, with subsequent moves to be made for a player like Ed Dickson. You can hear Brandon Schulze and I talk through all the difficult decisions facing John Schneider on the latest Field Gulls podcast, here.
With that in mind, here’s our penultimate 53-man projection:
QB: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith
In the end, it was a backup quarterback competition that never really was. Paxton Lynch got his revenge game against the Broncos, but his momentum stalled through poor performance and injury. Smith corrected course following a poor outing against Denver and will be the Seahawks’ steadiest backup quarterback since Tarvaris Jackson.
Cut: Paxton Lynch, J.T. Barrett
RB: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, C.J. Prosise
The big change here is the return of Prosise to the 53. The much-maligned back showed off both facets of his intriguing skill set against the Chargers, and his upside remains entirely appealing. Pete Carroll’s joy in Prosise’s performance leads me to belief patience has not yet run out. Though Nick Bellore isn’t on the initial 53, he could return within a day or two of cuts, after movement elsewhere on the roster—as a veteran, Bellore isn’t subject to waivers. He’ll be cut, but told to stick in town.
Cut: Bo Scarbrough, J.D. McKissic, Nick Bellore, Xavier Turner
WR: Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings, John Ursua
Wide receiver is such a complicated position to parse for Seattle, and that was before injuries to Metcalf and Moore. Though both may be unavailable for Week 1, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport did deliver some positive news on Moore’s status on Monday:
#Seahawks promising WR David Moore, who has a hairline fracture in his humerus, received his second opinion and is not slated to be placed on Injured Reserve, sources say. Surprisingly positive news. He’ll miss the start of the season, but should be back sooner rather than later.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 26, 2019
Obviously, the most noteworthy decision is risking Jazz Ferguson to waivers, but their hand is forced. Perhaps it’ll look foolish in hindsight, but I can’t wrap my head around the Seahawks cutting ties with Jennings—even if they would do so hoping to sign him to the practice squad. Ferguson heavily out-snapped Jennings on Saturday, 43-26, but the former didn’t see a target (however, he did draw a pass interference penalty which wiped out that target).
Cut: Malik Turner, Amara Darboh, Jazz Ferguson, Terry Wright, Keenan Reynolds
TE: Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, Jacob Hollister, Nick Vannett
Hollister returned to the field on Saturday and looked every bit the intriguing receiving option he was touted as during the spring. Dickson will likely be kept through the initial cuts before a decision is made. By the time Week 1 rolls around, his roster spot seems likely to be filled by Bellore, with Dissly, Hollister and Vannett making up the tight end group in 2019.
Cut: Jackson Harris, Wes Saxton
T: Duane Brown, Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Jamarco Jones
Every indication from Carroll is that the tackle group will be healthy for Week 1. Perhaps they make an acquisition from elsewhere, but as it stands, Brown and Ifedi will start with Jones and Fant as backups. Elijah Nkansah has played a ton in the preseason, and after spending most of 2018 on the practice squad, seems destined for another season there.
Cut: Elijah Nkansah, Brian Wallace
iOL: Justin Britt, D.J. Fluker, Mike Iupati, Ethan Pocic, Phil Haynes
The interior remains unchanged for a second consecutive projection. Pocic is the biggest winner of preseason and could actually hang onto the starting spot at left guard when Iupati gets healthy. Haynes should’ve returned by now, or at least have been close, but we haven’t gotten that indication yet. His stay on the PUP list could extend into the season; if that proves true, Simmons would take his place (assuming he’s healthy by then).
Cut: Jordan Simmons, Joey Hunt, Jordan Roos, Marcus Martin, Landon Turner
DT: Poona Ford, Al Woods, Earl Mitchell, Bryan Mone
As the President of the Bryan Mone Fan Club, I would be lying if I said his nine snaps in Los Angeles didn’t concern me. Ford, Woods and Mitchell are locks, and it would be bizarre for Seattle to keep just three defensive tackles, so Mone’s spot should still be safe. If the Seahawks make a move to bring another DT in, it could be in Mone’s place, though.
Cut: Demarcus Christmas, Jay-Tee Tiuli, Jamie Meder
EDGE: Rasheem Green, Ezekiel Ansah, Jacob Martin, L.J. Collier, Cassius Marsh, Quinton Jefferson
The most interesting development here, stemming from Week 3, was Branden Jackson’s relatively high workload (47 percent). His place on the roster would likely come at the expense of Jefferson, but it still seems unlikely, with Jefferson too dependable in base. The top five at EDGE seem solidified. Carroll may be endorsing Mingo to reporters, but the LB-turned-EDGE playing into the fourth quarter for a third consecutive preseason game is far more telling.
Cut: Branden Jackson, Barkevious Mingo, Nazair Jones
LB: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mychal Kendricks, Shaquem Griffin, Cody Barton, Austin Calitro
On Friday’s episode of The Ringer NFL Show, Kevin Clark (re)told a story about Seattle’s quarterback competition in 2012, and how “Mr. Compete,” as he titled Carroll, couldn’t preach competition and then start Matt Flynn over Wilson simply because of his price tag. That story came to mind when making the decision to have Calitro on the 53 over Burr-Kirven; they simply cannot cut ties with the defender who, wire-to-wire, has been the Seahawks’ best defensive player in August.
Before it’s asked in the comments: Griffin is kept over Burr-Kirven because of A. his special teams value and B. the lack of another natural backup to Kendricks at SAM. Burr-Kirven seems like a safe bet for the practice squad.
Cut: Ben Burr-Kirven, Justin Currie, Jawuan Johnson, Juwon Young
CB: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Neiko Thorpe, Jamar Taylor, Akeem King
Though it could change, it seems like the nickel competition is decided, with Taylor starting there on Saturday and King featuring mostly on the outside. Both make the roster—King can play as a big nickel—but Taylor will start inside Week 1. Thorpe, of course, sticks as a backup outside CB and the team’s best special teamer.
Cut: Kalan Reed, Jeremy Boykins, Simeon Thomas
S: Bradley McDougald, Marquise Blair, Ugo Amadi, Tedric Thompson
It took three weeks, but the secondary is starting to make sense to me. The cornerbacks have shaken out as a result of the slot corner competition, and the safeties followed logically, with McDougald and Thompson set to start, and Blair and Amadi the respective backups. It’s harsh on Shead, after a good preseason, but the younger King can do what he does on defense and special teams. Hill’s lowly 11 snaps tells us what was suspected: His return to health was too little, too late, and he’s just helping to make up the numbers for the remainder of preseason.
Cut: Shalom Luani, Lano Hill, DeShawn Shead
Specialists: Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott
Myers hit a bomb against Los Angeles, and it’s good to have kicker solidified.