There was only one roster move on Tuesday that truly shocked me, and that was the release of WR Penny Hart. Hart, who most considered to be a lock to make the squad, was cut in favor of the team keeping a significant surplus at positions like quarterback, running back, and offensive line.
The clear and specific praise Hart receiver from Pete Carroll this offseason is what makes the cut so shocking.
“Penny made the team last year because you can count on him. You can count on him in a lot of ways... knowing the offense, multiple positions, contributing on special teams, [and] his toughness,” Carroll said during minicamp. Pete even went on to say that Hart was “right in it” for the competition for the WR3 spot, let alone making the roster.
In fact, Hart was arguably the most impressive offensive performer in the early weeks of the offseason program before he came down with an ankle injury that kept him on the sidelines for the last two preseason games. Despite his absence, however, there is still a very clear role for Hart on special teams, and he’s shown growth in his offensive game this summer as well. Even though he appeared in just three games in 2020, the 25 year-old’s potential as a pass-catcher, returner, and gunner are more than enough to earn him a spot on the team in my eyes.
The trouble this cut creates for the Seahawks roster is two-fold: not only does keeping just four receivers not make a lot of sense (unless the team intends to acquire Phillip Dorsett in the coming days), but Hart may very well draw interest from other teams and fail to clear waivers, and therefore be unavailable for elevation from the practice squad.
Furthermore, although I understand why the team opted to keep five running backs, not cutting third-string quarterback Sean Mannion (who would easily clear waivers) to make space for Hart makes very little sense to me. While the 29 year-old does have a rapport with Shane Waldron dating back to their time together in Los Angeles, he did nothing during the preseason to show that he really added value to the roster as a third-string QB. I hope the Seahawks front office proves me wrong in the coming days, but right now, keeping Mannion over Hart looks like a really awful decision.