Training camp for the Seattle Seahawks started Wednesday with the Hawks taking to the practice field, and just 33 days remain until the roster cuts deadline on Tuesday, August 29. In the meantime the team will play a trio of preseason games, as a large number of youngsters attempt to prove they belong on the roster and show what they can do in the coming weeks. And, with the 90-man roster finally filled out, it’s time to make a projection about who will and will not make the roster, predictions that are all but guaranteed to be wrong in some places due to injuries and surprise performances, but which fans love to read and critique, so here we are.
In any case, without wasting any time, here are how things seem likely to shake out.
Keep: Geno Smith and Drew Lock
Cut: Holton Ahlers
The big question here, of course, is how the Seahawks will handle the new rule regarding an emergency quarterback. The 2020 CBA expanded the number of players a team can keep on the gameday active roster from 46 to 47, with a 48th player allowed if at least 8 of the 48 active players are offensive linemen. Now, for 2023, an additional player will be allowed to dress on gameday if that player is a quarterback, that quarterback is on the 53 man roster and has not been elevated from the practice squad and the team has two other quarterbacks active as well. The catch here is that the third quarterback, if they are the 49th dressed player (or 48th if a team has only 47 active players for the game) is not allowed to participate in the game unless both of the first two quarterbacks leave the game due to injury.
Thus, the discussion for the Seahawks becomes whether it is worth it to use up a spot on the 53 man roster for an emergency quarterback when Geno Smith didn’t give Drew Lock a single snap during the 2022 season. No end of game kneel downs. No garbage time handoffs in the multi-score victories over the Los Angeles Chargers, New York Giants and New York Jets during the Geno Smith Revenge Tour. Nothing. So, with Smith playing every single last snap of the 2022 season, is it worth it to use up a roster spot on an emergency quarterback? Odds are that answer is no, just as it has been in seasons past, and the prediction here is that the Hawks roll with Smith and Lock with Ahlers or whoever winds up as the third quarterback on the practice squad.
Running Back (4):
Keep: Zach Charbonnet, Kenneth Walker, DeeJay Dallas and Kenny McIntosh
Cut: Bryant Koback
Yes, Koback’s athleticism is intriguing, but there is no real need to use a roster spot on a player who cleared waivers and spent the entirety of the 2022 season on the practice squad of the Minnesota Vikings. As for Dallas, there are certain to be a whole chorus of commenters ready to move on as he enters his fourth season in the league, but as a core special teamer who has appeared in 44 of 50 games during his career, his spot is likely relatively secure. Before someone spouts off about kickoffs having been effectively removed from the game - which is absolutely true - it’s important not to forget that punts still exist, and that means bodies are needed on both punt returns and punt coverage* units.
*Yes, I know the Seahawks aren’t going to punt a single time this season as Geno is going to lead the highest scoring offense in franchise history with all the weapons at his disposal. Hypothetically, though, let’s say they’re up 77-0 on the Arizona Cardinals at halftime in Week 18 and Michael Dickson asks Pete Carroll to let him punt once because he hasn’t done anything except hold extra points for Jason Myers all season and he’s tired of being bored.
Tight End (3):
Keep: Will Dissly, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson
Cut: Tyler Mabry, Noah Gindorff and Griffin Hebert
Back in May when the Way Too Early Roster Projection for the 2023 Seahawks was published, this is what I wrote:
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.
That is all still accurate, leaving no need to modify any projections just yet. The things to watch here will be if Fant were to have a setback in his return from a minor knee procedure that has him starting camp on the PUP list or if injury changes the complexion of things at the position.
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, John Hall and Jake Bobo
Lockett and Metcalf aren’t going anywhere as the proven veterans in the group, while JSN and Eskridge likely keep spots based on their draft pedigree. Young didn’t do a ton offensively last season until late, but showed significant versatility lining up in the backfield, out wide and playing a huge role on special teams. All that, combined with his athleticism and upside, should keep him around.
With all that in mind, this is a position where there seems likely to be a lot of shuffling early in the season. As noted back in May:
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.
Still believe every word of that, and whether it’s Johnson, Thompson, Bobo or one of the others who gets the nod in early September, there is no reason to doubt that the roster could contain six, or possibly even seven, receivers by the time October rolls around.
Interior Offensive Line (6):
Keep: Evan Brown, Olu Oluwatimi, Damien Lewis, Phil Haynes, Anthony Bradford and Jake Curhan
Cut: Joey Hunt, Kendall Randolph and Greg Eiland
There isn’t really a whole lot to discuss here, but Randolph should be an interesting one to watch in the preseason after he played both offensive line and tight end during his time at Alabama. It’s, of course, possible he could carve out a role for himself as a sixth offensive lineman like George Fant did during his time with the Seahawks, but this is one of those things that isn’t any more than a possibility at this point, making his performance in the preseason worth watching.
Keep: Charles Cross, Abe Lucas and Stone Forsythe
Cut: Jalen McKenzie
An injury seems the only thing that could potentially shake up things at the tackle spot where Cross and Lucas likely all but have the starting roles secured for the coming seasons. Certainly someone could outperform them and steal a starting role, but given their growth during the 2022 season and a full offseason, that would come as quite a surprise.