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A 53-man roster projection ahead of training camp

Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In a normal NFL season, I would usually do five 53-man roster projections between the start of training camp and cut down day. This is not a normal year.

Though I’ll be circling back with a roster projection again before the roster is finalized, I thought it would be a worthwhile exercise to project the roster in this unusual year. The Seahawks’ roster currently sits at 79 players and will need to be whittled down to 53, without any preseason games or a traditional training camp (and no OTAs, for that matter) to help the decision-making process—internally or externally.

Let’s take a run at it.

QB: Russell Wilson, Geno Smith

Anthony Gordon is a talented passer with upside, and at a cheaper rate than Smith. Unfortunately, with such a brief lead up to the regular season, it’s hard to envision Seattle rolling with a UDFA as Wilson’s lone backup. If the Seahawks maintain their usual roster construction and keep just two quarterbacks, it will be Wilson and Smith for the second consecutive year.

However, there is the possibility of keeping all three. Bruce Arians previously explored the idea of a “quarantine quarterback,” and Pete Carroll told Peter King Wilson and Smith are “not gonna be in the same meeting room” this season. For now, it’s just Wilson and Smith kept on the 53, but things certainly could change.

Cut: Anthony Gordon

RB: Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas

The running backs should shake out without any surprises. Carson and Hyde will share early-down duties, with the two former Hurricanes, Dallas and Homer, competing for passing-down snaps. Rashaad Penny, meanwhile, should start the year on the PUP list.

Cut: Anthony Jones, Nick Bellore

WR: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett, David Moore, Penny Hart, John Ursua

The preseason’s cancellation robbed us of what would have been a fascinating wide receiver competition. Instead, the logical top four of Lockett, Metcalf, Dorsett, and Moore are locked in, with Hart and Ursua rounding it out. Hart, a shifty undersized receiver, could have been a preseason star. Regardless, he joins last year’s August darling, Ursua, on the 53.

Cut: Freddie Swain, Cody Thompson, Aaron Fuller

TE: Will Dissly, Greg Olsen, Colby Parkinson, Stephen Sullivan

Assuming they are all healthy by cut down day, Dissly, Olsen, and Parkinson are locked in. The fourth spot—if there is a fourth tight end spot available—will come down to Sullivan or Hollister. That puts Seattle in a tough spot. They liked Sullivan enough to move back into the draft for him, instead of risking it to rookie free agency. He’ll need a redshirt season, but could be scooped up off the practice squad. Hollister proved last year he could fill in as needed, and he could very well be needed again with Dissly and Olsen injury risks. If cut, Hollister would find work immediately.

Ultimately, Seattle will lean towards youth in Sullivan over Hollister. If an injury arises, chances are Luke Willson will be on the open market and available for another mid-season return.

Cut: Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson, Tyler Mabry

OT: Duane Brown, Jamarco Jones, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi

There’s unlikely to be much confusion here, with Jones backing up Brown and Ogbuehi backing up Shell. Chad Wheeler, who followed Mike Solari from the Giants to the Seahawks, could push to backup Shell but Ogbuehi’s contract indicates he’ll be the favorite.

Tommy Champion, a UDFA in 2020, received one of the largest bonuses from Seattle and could land on the practice squad.

Cut: Chad Wheeler, Tommy Champion

iOL: Mike Iupati, Phil Haynes, B.J. Finney, Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis, Jordan Simmons

At one point in the offseason, the interior of the Seahawks’ offensive line was absurdly crowded. It has thinned in recent weeks and now appears fairly clear. Iupati and Haynes will compete to start at left guard, while Simmons—healthy, hopefully—backs up Lewis on the right. (Full disclosure: I had Chance Warmack in as the backup to Lewis, but he took the voluntary opt-out for the 2020 season on Monday.) Not long ago, a trade that would see Pocic depart appeared likely, but less so now. He’s the only natural backup center on the roster and provides flexibility.

Cut: Kyle Fuller

EDGE: Bruce Irvin, Rasheem Green, Darrell Taylor, Benson Mayowa, L.J. Collier, Alton Robinson, Shaquem Griffin

Seattle’s group of EDGEs is at capacity, unfortunately so for a pair of UDFAs in Eli Mencer and Marcus Webb. Irvin, Taylor, and Griffin will take up LEO snaps, while Mayowa, Collier, and Robinson rotate at 5-tech. Green, possibly the best of the bunch, can play both spots but will likely settle into one this season. Long-term roster construction suggests that will be at 5-tech, not LEO.

Cut: Eli Mencer, Marcus Webb

DT: Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, Cedrick Lattimore, Bryan Mone

If another addition is coming anywhere, expect it to be at defensive tackle. For now, however, it’s a simple position to project. Reed and Ford will start at 3- and 1-tech, with Lattimore and Mone providing depth at either spot.

Demarcus Christmas, a sixth-round pick in 2019 who missed his entire rookie season, should be expected to push for a roster spot.

Cut: Demarcus Christmas, Josh Avery

LB: K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven

Linebacker is another simple position to work out. Wright and Barton at WILL, Wagner and Burr-Kirven at MIKE, and Brooks at SAM. Only five linebackers would be thin, certainly, but they have flexibility. Not only can Wright, Barton, Brooks, and Burr-Kirven play multiple spots, but Griffin and Irvin—listed here as EDGEs—can provide backup snaps at SAM, as well.

Cut: Emmanuel Ellerbee

CB: Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Ugo Amadi, Neiko Thorpe

The four returning members of the 2019 team appear locked in, with Griffin and Flowers again expected to start. Thorpe’s status became more stable when Quinton Dunbar was placed on the commissioner's exempt list on Monday. (Dunbar does not count against the roster while on the list.)

Should the team be unconvinced of Amadi in the slot, Linden Stephens could be a surprise winner as a more natural nickelback.

Cut: Gavin Heslop, Ryan Neal, Brian Allen, Debione Renfro, Kemah Siverand, Linden Stephens, Jayson Stanley

S: Quandre Diggs, Jamal Adams, Chris Miller, Marquise Blair

That’s quite a safety tandem off the top, huh? Diggs, Adams, and Blair are locked in leaving the only other two safeties on the roster, Chris Miller and Lano Hill, to compete for a roster spot. Hill has experience, versatility, and special teams contributions on his side, but was dreadful in 2019. Miller, a UDFA, projects as a natural free safety in a single-high scheme and would be an excellent understudy to Diggs.

Cut: Lano Hill

Specialists: Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Tyler Ott

Three-for-three here.