Monday Field Gulls own Alistair Corp released the third version of his 53-man roster projection for the 2020 Seattle Seahawks, and with roster cuts set for just eleven days from now it’s time to start getting excited for football. However, while much of Alistair’s projections overlap with those of mine, there are a handful of small differences between how each of us project the roster. Thus, this week I’ll be sharing my projections for the Seahawks roster, with the offense first and the projections for the defense coming Wednesday.
For those curious about why position groups have a certain number of players, or how it was decided how many wide receivers or how many tight ends to keep, that logic may be found here. So, without wasting any time, here are the projections.
Quarterback (2): Russell Wilson and Geno Smith
This is simple and easy, and barring injury, this is how the quarterback position on the roster should look at the end of the day on September 5.
Running Back (3 + 1): Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and DeeJay Dallas + Nick Bellore
Fans are going to be upset that Travis Homer is not on this list, but that’s because he didn’t do a whole lot last season to make another team want to come grab him from the Hawks, while Dallas has reportedly flashed repeatedly during camp. The team could certainly carry a fourth running back into the season, however, with Rashaad Penny likely set to return from the PUP sometime late in the season, the team could feel comfortable with just three backs to start the season with the knowledge of reinforcements coming in the future.
In addition, while fans are certain to want to get rid of Bellore, the Hawks have carried at least one fullback through roster cuts every single year since Pete Carroll and John Schneider arrived in 2010. Yes, they could certainly change things up in 2020, but people are creatures of habit, and when a team has carried a fullback every season, it would seem safe to assume that the team will carry a fullback this season. Add in Bellore’s role on special teams, and the fact that the Hawks have been giving him some additional work at linebacker to learn how else he can contribute, and it certainly seems like he could stick around.
Wide Receiver (5): Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Phillip Dorsett, David Moore and John Ursua
The are no questions surrounding the top two spots, while Dorsett and Moore are likely to be battling it out for the right to replace Jaron Brown as the third wide receiver. Whether either of them impresses enough in camp to make that happen, there’s not way of knowing until roster cuts and Week 1, but the fact is the team has three of its top four wide outs by snaps returning. That likely gives them a level of comfort they don’t have at other positions, and allows them to carry just five players at the position.
The wild card here is, of course, whether Moore makes it. Reports have him failing to distinguish himself in camp to this point, so it’s certainly possible the team could move on. However, if that happens, it would leave the team with only two experienced receivers returning, and they’d then likely be forced to keep a sixth player at the position. That, combined with the fact that there is no preseason tape on the rookies likely makes those players less attractive to other teams. So, if Moore does not make it, it’s likely that two of the undrafted additions would make it.
Or, there could be an August surprise in the making, as the rumor mill has the team potentially looking at a former Seahawk coming in to talk about a return.
Been a lot of emphasis on Josh Gordon in case the Seahawks want/need to add another veteran receiver. But I'll note that Paul Richardson also remains a free agent and we know the Seahawks don't mind bringing back former players. He's also only 28. #youneverknow— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) August 25, 2020
Richardson does not have any experience in the system of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, but he did spend four years with Russell Wilson and has a level of chemistry. Add in that he could probably step in pretty quickly to fill many of the deep route roles that Moore fills within the offense. If the team could add Richardson at or near the league minimum, that would be the type of move that could bump Moore off the roster and onto the waiver wire.
Tight End (4): Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson and Luke Willson
Between the injury histories of Olsen and Dissly, and with Parkinson coming off foot surgery earlier this summer, this is a position group that will keep an extra player, just as they did in 2010 and 2016. If they are healthy, Olsen and Dissly will be on the roster. For Parkinson, whether he is on the initial 53-man roster comes down to whether or not he is activated from the PUP list prior to the season or not. If he is activated from the PUP list, as reports have suggested is likely, prior to the end of training camp, then he will occupy the third spot.
That leaves the fourth spot up for grabs.
The competition for that fourth spot likely includes Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson and Stephen Sullivan. Sullivan is a conversion project who only played a single season of tight end in college, so is still early in the learning process for the position and puts him at a potential disadvantage. However, he could carry the same trump card that John Ursua held last year during training camp. Just like with Ursua in 2019, the Seahawks traded back into the seventh round in order to select Sullivan, as he was a priority target they could not ensure would sign with the team as an undrafted free agent. Thus, he could be an attractive waiver claim for a team that had him rated highly during the draft season.
That said, the team could be concerned about how raw Sullivan is, which could lead to them keeping either Hollister or Willson. Hollister is currently slated to cost almost four times as much against the cap as Willson, which could make for some interesting discussions regarding whether to keep Willson or Hollister.
The team likely feels they have the future at the position addressed between Dissly, Parkinson and Sullivan, so the fourth spot is basically a 2020 only role, and with the salary cap set to drop to $175M in 2021, every cap dollar teams can save this season will be highly beneficial. All of that combines to give Willson, and his $887,500 cap hit an advantage over Hollister and his $3,259,000 cap hit.
Another interesting thing to consider is that when the Hawks needed a tight end during the 2019 season, even with Jacob Hollister on the practice squad the team still reached into free agency to add Willson. What exactly that means for 2020 can be debated until the cows come home, however, my projection is that Willson takes that final spot.
Offensive Line - Tackle (4): Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi and Chad Wheeler
Brown and Shell are locks, while Pete Carroll has raved about Ogbuehi’s athleticism. That’s important because Carroll also recently noted that the athleticism levels necessary for a player to pay at left tackle are difficult to find, and Ogbuehi has that level of athleticism.
Cedric Ogbuehi drawing praise from Carroll, saying it's hard to find players with the physicality to play left tackle in the NFL. Wishes they could have preseason games to further evaluate him, but he's been getting reps with Duane Brown receiving a few rest days.— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) August 17, 2020
That brings to the final spot, which comes down to Jamarco Jones, Chad Wheeler and Tommy Champion. Offensive line coach Solari has experience with Wheeler from his time with the New York Giants, and with more experience at the position, Wheeler likely beats out the other two. Champion has the size and build Solari loves, but he was not even a full time starter in college, meaning if the team likes what he shows in camp, there should be no trouble sliding him to the practice squad. On a similar note, Jones has been with the Seahawks for two years and did not impress at tackle when given a shot against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 of 2019. On the flip side, he did perform admirably at guard for the team, however, he is not of the type of massive mauler that Solari loves at guard.
Thus, while Jones can fill in at four spots on the line, he’s not an ideal player at any position, and his Week 16 film likely means that the team can slip him through to the practice squad without too many worries.
Offensive Line - Guard (4): Mike Iupati, Damien Lewis, Phil Haynes and Jordan Simmons
Iupati is the incumbent at left guard, and has an intimate familiarity with Solari’s system, while Lewis is a Day 2 selection who has done nothing but draw rave reviews from coaches and other players. Those two are likely locked in at the starting spots, assuming they can stay healthy. That leaves Haynes, Simmons and Jones battling for the final two spots. Here, it simply comes down to physical preferences, where both Haynes and Simmons are the behemoths the team likes.
That leaves Jones as the odd man out at this position as well. However, given the fact that teams can carry extra players on the practice squad due to COVID and that a pair of players can be elevated from the practice squad without exposing them to waivers upon return to the practice squad. That means assuming they are able to slip Jones through waivers at roster cuts when the waiver wire is flooded, they could keep him on the practice squad and use the weekly promotion if he is needed for depth on game day. The greatest asset Jones provides is his positional flexibility and the ability to fill in at four spots on the line, however, he doesn’t seem to provide that depth at a high enough level that he forces his way onto the roster.
Offensive Line - Center (2): Ethan Pocic and B.J. Finney
This is a position where the competition to replace Justin Britt as the starter has been strong. Joey Hunt, who started eight games in place of Britt during 2019 is gone and seems unlikely to return following his release before training camp. Free agent addition B.J. Finney had been expected by most to take the job, however, according to reports he’s failed to seize the opportunity to this point in camp, and Pocic has been taking snaps with the first team recently. Not only has Pocic been taking snaps with the first team, Finney has been taking snaps as the third center behind Kyle Fuller.
Remember all the takes from the spring about how Finney was an instant upgrade over Britt?— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) August 22, 2020
Finney's now taking reps with the QB3 and QB4, while last year's 3rd and 4th string centers are taking reps with QB1 and QB2.
He appears to be behind a center who was on the PS last year. https://t.co/GztYldxxCX
It does need to be said that the decision at center is made easier by the suspension of Fuller, who will slide to the Commissioner’s Exempt List for the first two weeks of the season. However, as simple as the decision could be heading into Week 1, there are rumors that the competition to replace Britt might have a surprise name added, with the team potentially looking to replace Justin Britt at center by signing free agent center Justin Britt.
If you could get Britt back for around Finney pricetag, that may be the solve for C. Obviously, they’re not sold on BJ and it’s hard to measure where Pocic is at without preseason games.— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) August 25, 2020
Box squatting 6 plates in July. Sure I’d like to see full range of motion but thats enough for me to know he busted his ass on the rehab.— Tony Blakeley (@Cyoplasm) August 25, 2020
Whether the team winds up making a move to increase competition at the position or not in the coming weeks, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise. They certainly do not seem to be as excited about Finney now as they were in the spring, and with the team having shied away from Pocic at the position in the past, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them shy away yet again. What a return of Britt, or the addition of any other competition into the mix could mean is certainly interesting and could carry a wide range of ramifications.
Specifically, if the team adds someone on a one year contract, they could then potentially look to trade Pocic, who as a former second round pick who is still just 25 years old, might garner interest from other teams in exchange for a Day 3 pick. However, if they do not move Pocic, it could create a situation where the team has to decide what to do with B.J. Finney. Finney’s entire 2020 salary is fully guaranteed, so releasing him does not save any cap space. Trading him could save some cap space, but whether another team might have interest in a player who finished fourth in a three man competition for center seems unlikely.
In any case, it certainly seems as though there is a high likelihood of a surprise at the position, so it’s a position group to pay close attention to over the next week and a half.
That wraps up the predictions for the offense, and on Wednesday the predictions for the defense will come down the pipe.