It’s the last weekend of May, meaning the start of the 2021 NFL football season is just a summer away. In the meantime, teams across the league are working through offseason activities, while the Seattle Seahawks learn a new offensive system for the second time in four years. On the defensive side of the ball, however, there is likely to be more continuity with the system, so after having taken a way too early stab at the 2021 roster on the offensive side of the ball, here is a look at the defensive side.
Keep: Poona Forda, Bryan Mone and Al Woods
Cut: Myles Adams, Jarrod Hewitt, Cedrick Lattimore, Walter Palmore and Robert Nkemdiche
At first glance this likely seems light to many fans, however, with so many defensive ends on the roster who can slide inside on passing downs, keeping just three defensive tackles is in line with what the team has done in recent seasons.
Keep: L.J. Collier, Carlos Dunlap, Rasheem Green, Kerry Hyder, Alton Robinson and Benson Mayowa
Cut: Aldon Smith
The wild cards in this position group could be Green and Smith, neither of whom is under contract past 2021. That could create an opportunity for those players to be on the block if another team came calling and offering something of value. Of course, it’s also possible, if not likely, that an injury or two could hit the group during camp, leading to zero cuts at the defensive end position.
Keep: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Darrell Taylor and Nate Evans
Cut: Jon Rhattigan and Aaron Donkor
This position group is pretty easy to fill out at the top, as Wagner isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, Brooks flashed at times in limited snaps during 2020. Behind those two, there are a lot of fans who would be happy to move on from Barton and BBK, but the simple fact of the matter is that those two were number one and two on the team in special teams snaps during the 2020 season, so they aren’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon.
Also in the group is Taylor, and while many fans might feel his proposed move to SAM could take some time, that seems unlikely. The most successful SAM linebacker the Seahawks have had during Pete Carroll’s tenure has been Bruce Irvin, who was a pass rushing defensive end in college who converted to SAM in the NFL. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s basically the situation in which Taylor finds himself, and one of the primary responsibilities of the SAM in Carroll’s system is to set the edge against the run, something in which Taylor has experience. That’s not to say the transition will be perfectly smooth and without any bumps, but Carroll had no issue starting Irvin in every game in his first year at the new position, and it will not be a surprise if Taylor logs a significant number of snaps in base personnel packages.
Evans gets the final spot because he has the size to play inside and backup Bobby, and the Seahawks have had at least one UCF Golden Knights defensive player on the roster for the past four seasons and it’s up to Evans to keep that streak alive. Donkor gets cut because 26 year old rookies from Arkansas State don’t tend to make the 53 man roster, and if the Seahawks are going to be having any former Red Wolves on the roster, I’d prefer it to be J.D. McKissic. In any case, many may also find it harsh to predict the release of recent West Point graduate Jon Rhattigan over Memorial Day weekend, but that’s what you get when you try the best Marine on staff with a mediocre Army Dog.
Keep: Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Ryan Neal and Marquise Blair
Cut: Joshua Moon, LaDarius Wiley and Aashari Crosswell
The starters at safety are set, and Neal and Blair seem pretty well entrenched as depth for the time being, assuming all is on track with Blair’s recovery from surgery last fall.
Keep: D.J. Reed, Akhello Witherspoon, Tre Brown, Ugo Amadi and Tre Flowers
Cut: Pierre Desir, Gavin Heslop, Bryan Mills, Damarious Randall, Saivion Smith and Jordan Miller
The top three spots seem unlikely to go to anyone other than Reed, Witherspoon and Brown, and the competition in camp for the final spots at corner should be extremely interesting. Just as in years past, things could easily come down to special teams contributions. That might give Flowers and Amadi an advantage over the others, however, it won’t be a surprise if one of the younger players like Heslop or Mills is able to bump one of the more experienced players off the roster.
Assuming the league keeps the COVID Amendment practice squad rules in place, Randall could easily fill a practice squad spot and provide veteran depth from there for the team, just as he did in 2020. Desir has had an up and down career since departing Seattle in 2017, but he’ll turn 31 just before the start of the season, and the Seahawks are the fourth team he has been with since March 2020 so while he could surprise, there seems limited reason for optimism.