The Seahawks traded backup guard/center John Moffitt to the Browns in exchange for Brian Sanford.
Moffitt had been competing for the job at right guard with incumbent starter (starter... sort of) J.R. Sweezy, but it had appeared for the past few weeks that Sweezy had really pulled ahead. With Sweezy likely locked down in the starting role, and with the emergence of tackle/guard prospects in Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie, Moffitt became, as the Seahawks evidently see it, expendable. Tom Cable still has Paul McQuistan and James Carpenter on the interior, Lemuel Jeanpierre at center (and can bump out to guard), Bailey/Bowie and possibly Mike Person or Rishaw Johnson as depth, so the talent along the line made this move possible.
Need also precipitated this move, and the Seahawks told Moffitt that a big reason they looked to trade him was to bolster their depth at the defensive line. Sanford was a UDFA out of Temple in 2010, and as of late, has been playing all along Cleveland's defensive line. At worst, he's a versatile depth type of player that could challenge for a roster spot.
Seattle has Sanford listed as a defensive tackle, but as Brian Leister - a great draft analyst and editor at DraftBrowns.com who evaluated Sanford's preseason game against the Rams in Week 1 - notes, he's played at several spots as recently as two weeks ago:
Brian Sanford lined up at three-technique, five-technique, and one-technique and showed off his athletic ability, a nice spin move, good leverage while bull rushing, and a high motor. Although he typically played too high and had his fair share of struggles against the run, he recorded a sack, a hit on the quarterback, and a quarterback hurry when rushing the passer. Sanford's sack came on what looked to be a stunt between he and Barkevious Mingo. On the stunt, Mingo brought the left tackle to the inside as Sanford performed a spin move to beat the left guard to the outside. Once Hughes forced the quarterback to step up in the pocket, Sanford flattened his path to the quarterback, closed in, and brought him down for the sack.
Further, it looked like Sanford had a shot at contributing along Cleveland's defensive line, but with shortages on the offensive line, this became a need-for-need type of move. As Browns beat reporter Terry Pluto noted recently,
While the starting linemen are Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant and [Phil] Taylor, the Browns are pleased with Billy Winn, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, John Hughes and Brian Sanford. They believe all four are talented enough to be rotated in games.
The move is essentially a wash, salary cap wise - Sanford's hit of $630,000 is slightly lower than Moffitt's cap hit of $784,375.
So, what does this move tell us? Well, first of all, I see it as a vote of confidence in, firstly, J.R. Sweezy, but more importantly, in Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie (and to a lesser extent, Rishaw Johnson, Mike Person, and Lemuel Jeanpierre).
It also tells me that, combined with today's signing of DT DeWayne Cherrington, that Seattle may be worried about injuries along the defensive line and wanted to bolster depth there, particularly at 3-technique and 5-technique.
Jesse Williams fell to the fifth round because of knee issues and those problems haven't gone away - not to mention, they may be hindering his play. There's always the chance that Big Jesse won't be a full-go this season as he works on rehabbing the knee injury and Sanford is an alternative to him. Tony McDaniel has yet to see the practice field and Pete Carroll quite possibly thinks his name is Tony McFarlane, as he's called him three separate times on the radio. Jaye Howard has been out with a shoulder injury, and Michael Bennett has lingering shoulder and knee injuries that have the possibility of limiting him this season.
However, the Hawks may see Sanford as an outside rusher or base 5-technique as well - as Derek Stephens noted, "Sanford fits the Michael Bennett - Greg Scruggs - Michael Brooks mold of interior nickel rusher who can rotate to 5-tech," so perhaps they want more depth/competition at that spot as well.
Either way - my guess is that Seattle sees Sanford as a versatile guy that can play inside or outside - and after being impressed with him during this preseason, want to see if they can fit him into their defense.