Free agency and the draft are in the past, and teams across the league are in the middle of organized team activities, the last bit of something resembling football in the offseason before the true doldrums of summer. For the Seattle Seahawks that means a first chance at seeing a very large class of 2023 rookies on the field for the first time, even if no contact and true one-on-one drills aren’t allowed.
For Field Gulls, however, that means it is time for a way too early shot at predicting who winds up making the cut and securing a spot on the 53-man roster at the end of training camp. This season the league has returned to just a single round of cuts, with all teams reducing rosters from 90 players to 53 players ahead of the 4 pm New York time deadline on Tuesday, August 29. Managing Editor Mookie Alexander put forth his early offseason projection for the roster in early May following the draft, and with roster cuts three months from Monday, here’s how JPG sees things shaking out on the offensive side of the ball, with predictions for the defense slated to come in the coming days.
Keep: Geno Smith and Drew Lock
Cut: Holton Ahlers
There’s not a whole lot to discuss here following a 2022 season in which Smith made the Pro Bowl while Lock failed to see the field for even a single regular or postseason snap. As for undrafted rookie Ahlers, it’s a great story, and while the new NFL rule allowing the team to dress 49 players on gameday if the 49th is an emergency quarterback could tempt the team to keep a third quarterback on the 53 man roster. That said, under Pete Carroll and John Schneider have long used the practice squad for the third quarterback, but it will certainly be something worth watching during training camp and through the preseason.
Running Back (4):
Keep: Zach Charbonnet, Kenneth Walker, DeeJay Dallas and Kenny McIntosh
Cut: Chris Smith and Bryant Koback
Charbonnet and Walker are the easy locks for the roster as second round picks, and McIntosh has quickly gathered a strong fan following after a solid finish to his career with the Georgia Bulldogs. The surprise of the bunch for many fans might be keeping Dallas around, but the simple fact of the matter is that there were five Seahawks special teamers to play 200 or more snaps during the 2022 season:
- Nick Bellore (352 snaps)
- Tanner Muse (325 snaps)
- Cody Barton (269 snaps)
- DeeJay Dallas (227 snaps)
- Dareke Young (209 snaps)
The departure of Muse and Barton in free agency could make Dallas a higher priority to retain for a coach who regularly preaches the importance of special teams. Dallas has missed just three games due to injury through the first three years of his career, and while his play isn’t likely to land him in the Pro Bowl or garner any hardware for the trophy case, an assignment sound, reliable special teams performer likely has some level of job security.
Tight End (3):
Keep: Will Dissly, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson
Cut: Tyler Mabry, Noah Gindorff and Griffin Hebert
Dissly and Fant have guaranteed contracts, so they aren’t going anywhere as long as they’re healthy, and Parkinson finished the 2022 season right behind Dareke Young with the sixth most special teams snaps of anyone on the roster. That will make it an uphill battle for Mabry, Gindorff and Hebert at a position that is unlikely to see any surprises barring injury.
Wide Receiver (5):
Keep: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Dee Eskridge and Dareke Young
Cut: Cody Thompson, Easop Winston, Tyjon Lindsay, Matt Landers, Cade Johnson, C.J. Johnson, John Hall and Jake Bobo
Lockett and Metcalf are locks given their experience and contracts, while JSN’s spot is secured given his status as a first round pick. Many are ready to move on from Eskridge, but his speed gives him the ability to be the outside receiver who drags safeties deep, even if he’s failed to develop as a true threat through the first two seasons of his career. Reality is that receiver is one of the positions that is most difficult to learn to play in the NFL and takes the longest time to develop, and adding in missed practice time due to injuries certainly doesn’t help. Even with that being the case, if he can potentially contribute as a punt or kick returner while seeing some snaps as an outside receiver, he’ll be given the chance to continue to break out.
Rounding out the group is Young, whose role on special teams combined with the versatility to line up in the backfield as a lead blocker give him the potential to be eventually take over the Nick Bellore role as a core special teamer and occasional fullback.
Receiver is a position where there is likely to be a lot of shuffling and adjusting following roster cuts in August, and it should come as no surprise if someone like Cade Johnson or Cody Thompson is waived, signed to the practice squad and then promoted to the 53 early in the season. Johnson, of course, played in a handful of games at the tail end of the 2022 season, while Thompson played a role on special teams down the stretch in 2021. However, the reality is that there is not likely to be significant interest on the waiver wire for a third year receiver with two career catches or a 27 year old special teamer coming off a 2022 season lost to shoulder surgery. Thus, it won’t be a surprise if by Week 2 or Week 3 the 53 man roster includes a half dozen receivers, but between the turnover on the defensive side and the flexibility afforded by the ability to elevate practice squad players as needed, that can wait while the team sorts things out on defense in the beginning of the season.
Interior Offensive Line (6):
Keep: Evan Brown, Olu Oluwatimi, Damien Lewis, Phil Haynes, Anthony Bradford and Jake Curhan
Cut: Joey Hunt and Kendall Randolph
Lewis is the only unquestioned starter on the interior of the line, though Haynes certainly has the inside track on the starting spot opposite Lewis given the experience provided by his rotational role with Gabe Jackson during the 2022 season. Even with that being the case, though, the reality is that Bradford will be knocking on the door looking for a chance to start. The 2023 season may not be the year that happens, but following how quick offensive line coach Andy Dickerson was to hand both starting tackle spots to rookies in 2022, it would not come as a surprise if Bradford winds up starting as a rookie.
The interesting battle to watch in this group during training camp and the preseason is, of course, the competition to start at center between Oluwatimi and Brown. Regardless of which of the two wins the nod to start at center, the simple fact of the matter is that they should be considered the favorites to make the roster, as 29 year old Hunt has seen the field for only 10 snaps in the three seasons since the Seahawks lost to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the 2019 playoffs. Meanwhile, Curhan appears poised to be able to provide depth at both tackle and guard while the youngsters on the interior gain experience.
Keep: Charles Cross, Abe Lucas and Stone Forsythe
Cut: Greg Eiland and Jalen McKenzie
Outside of an injury between now and the start of the season, Cross and Lucas are the unquestioned starters at tackle, with Forsythe likely to fill the swing tackle role again.