As is the case, for as far back as I can remember, after the third pre-season game, teams cut down from 90 players to 75. Mostly, you get a lot of no-names in this pile. But, there are a couple guys you probably heard of who could be considered surprise cuts (though, to be fair, this isn’t really their first rodeo with free agency).
Once again, Lemuel Jeanpierre – backup center extraordinaire – has been let go. The Seahawks did this last year too, but last year he was coming off of an injury and probably wouldn’t be ready to play until a few weeks into the season (which is exactly what happened, and the Seahawks ended up bringing him back accordingly to fill in for the injured Unger). This time, Jeanpierre appears to be healthy, but he’s still getting the scratch.
So much for most everyone’s pre-training camp predictions of the Week 1 53-man roster. I don’t recall seeing anyone’s predicted roster that didn’t include the O-Line in this order (from left to right): Okung – Bailey – Jeanpierre – Sweezy – Britt. At the very least, even if you believed this team would do everything in its power to not end up with Jeanpierre as the starter, you still probably had him as our primary reserve. Well, not so fast.
Obviously, the O-Line is looking like this: Okung – Britt – Nowak – Sweezy – Gilliam. Nowak really came out of nowhere to grab the bull by the horns; undrafted in 2012, signed by the Jags, converted from defensive tackle, spent 2012 on IR, played in all of 2 games in 2013, was released by the Jags and picked up for part of 2014 on Seattle’s practice squad. Now, he’s your starting center and the team has enough confidence in him to drop the team’s most veteran player at that position.
This also means good things for Patrick Lewis, who was slotted ahead of Jeanpierre last year when healthy. I don’t really have a huge problem with the team letting Jeanpierre go. Seems to me, all players being equal, you’d rather keep the younger and cheaper option with more years of team control. I just hope Jeanpierre is still out there – and still willing to return to the Seahawks – if and when injuries strike and this team is in need. The O-Line is pretty thin as it is with Unger and Carpenter playing for other teams. You hate to lose too much experience in such an important season.
Elsewhere, the only other major move of the week (sorry D’Anthony Smith fans), is the team releasing Greg Scruggs. Like Jeanpierre, he’s had his fun on the transaction wire (mostly due to injury) and has always been there for the Seahawks to bring back for added depth. By all accounts, he’s always been a hard worker, and you have to love his body size (6’3, 310 lbs), but he’s really sort of a tweener. He’s a defensive end in a defensive tackle’s body. The main problem is, he’s not really great at either spot. He’s no run stuffer, and he’s never been all that adept at getting to the quarterback. He’s played in a total of 14 games in his 3-year NFL career and has hardly made a dent. This isn’t a loss, in spite of the fact that you probably recognize his name.
The fact of the matter is, this D-Line is STACKED, and there are only so many spots to go around. If this were the 2008-2010 Seahawks, a guy like Greg Scruggs probably not only makes those teams, but he probably starts and does okay. But, this is the 2012-2015 Seahawks, and there’s just too much talent to have to settle for less.
In other news of the week (just a LITTLE more timely than I’ve been bringing so far), reportedly Buffalo’s Fred Jackson came in for a visit and a physical today. Apparently, Turbin has a bad ankle injury, but a lot of this is still up in the air. Nothing has been signed, but it would appear there’s a good chance Turbin either hits the IR or the IR-designated-to-return, and the team brings in someone to backup Lynch who isn’t Christine Michael.
I, for one, wouldn’t mind seeing Fred Jackson in a Seahawks uniform. I don’t necessarily like the thought of him being an every-down back (as he’s constantly plagued by nagging injuries that he somehow manages to play through), but I do like him as a more consistent change-of-pace guy who nabs about 10 carries per game and as a pass-catching back on third downs. He’s still got enough burst in the tank to be effective, he’s a more-reliable all-around back than probably Turbin and definitely Michael, and as a lockerroom presence, he should be an insanely great addition.
Don’t get me wrong, Fred Jackson isn’t the guy who pushes us over the top; I think we’re capable of going all the way without him. But, for the right price (read: the veteran minimum), he’s quality depth this team could sure use. ESPECIALLY if the Turbin news turns out to be of the worst-case-scenario variety.