Labor Day weekend was spent, by me, watching college football, going to parts of Bumbershoot, and constantly refreshing Twitter to check out the cuts, the signings, the trades, and the practice squad picks.
I won’t get into the whole 53-man here, but I’ll talk a little bit about some of the noteworthy choices. You can see how everything compares to my lone roster prediction here.
Scrolling from top to bottom, the first thing that sticks out is how the Seahawks waived Will Tukuafu, to eventually be replaced by Tani Tupou (who plays both fullback and defensive tackle). For a while there, it looked like the Seahawks weren’t going to have ANY fullback, and people predictably lost their shit for some reason. Beat writers spent most of the weekend reassuring people that this was all a cost-cutting effort by the team to avoid having a full season’s worth of salary guaranteed to the veteran Tukuafu; and that by having him sign AFTER week 1, the team would reach that goal. Even though the Seahawks brought Tupou back, I think nothing has changed in that regard. There was a reason why the team originally cut Tupou, and there’s a reason why he was still readily available all this time later. Tupou will still be there in the coming weeks, if Tukuafu ever gets injured. For one week, Tupou gets to show if he’s worth bringing back, should disaster strike the fullback position.
The next shocker comes in the form of Tanner McEvoy cracking the roster as the team’s fifth wide receiver. I don’t know what this means for his prospects as a tight end. I don’t even know if he’s healthy enough to practice after missing a couple weeks with a nagging injury. I do know this speaks volumes about his potential, and that he was rightly sought after by other teams, and never would’ve made it to the Practice Squad. What this means for him long term is anyone’s guess. I’d wager we’ll see him as a healthy scratch more often than not, and he’s REALLY going to have to make strides in practice to not get passed over.
Regarding the O-Line, I had that unit nailed except for one guy. Will Pericak indeed made it back onto the Practice Squad, while rookie George Fant – a tackle prospect – gets that 9th and final roster spot. The ends justifies the means, I suppose. I still like Pericak as a talented prospect, but it probably wouldn’t hurt this team to hang onto four tackles. Sowell is no sure thing, Webb was beat out by Gilliam when he got the most guaranteed money of any of our free agent offensive lineman this offseason, and Gilliam has already failed in his charge of converting over to the left side, when that’s all he was working towards this offseason. Fant will most certainly be a healthy scratch for most of the season, but hopefully he can learn the left tackle position and win the starting job in 2017.
On the D-Line, I rightly predicted Jordan Hill’s release, but I didn’t quite nail this team keeping the 5th D-Tackle. Garrison Smith was claimed after the 49ers released him and hopefully he’ll help provide some of that interior pass rush Hill brought. Either that, or let’s hope Quinton Jefferson as a rookie will make a big leap in the early going of his career.
For the rest of the defense, I see we let Pinkins go, which I probably should’ve seen coming. Wishful thinking, I guess, but it’s no shocker considering the team has let him go before. I also see that we kept 11 DBs when I thought that was too many initially. Of course, my prediction differed GREATLY from what the team ultimately decided upon.
I had Marcus Burley, Tye Smith, and Brandon Browner all sticking. Instead, we opted to hang onto Steven Terrell, DeAndre Elliott, and trade for Dewey McDonald from Oakland. We had also traded for the 49ers’ L.J. McCray, but he has since failed his physical (hence the re-signing of Tupou above). Burley’s a tough one to swallow, especially when it was rumored that the Seahawks made all of these moves in the secondary – in large part – to shore up our special teams coverage. But, I guess the team likes Tharold Simon’s play on the outside more than keeping a third nickel guy. Brandon Browner’s release wasn’t all that shocking, considering we never really saw him play much in the pre-season. For all we like to think about this coaching staff trying to pull one over on the league, hiding players until the games matter, they actually do the opposite more times than not. They don’t mind giving the league tape on our guys, because they also want to evaluate how these guys look in real game situations.
The biggest disappointment is Tye Smith. He was a draft pick last year who the team kept on its 53-man roster the whole season, and he was a guy the team had high expectations for coming into 2016. Hell, from the sounds of things, Tye Smith had high expectations about Tye Smith coming into 2016. But, from what I saw, he never really flashed, never really made many impact plays, and was never really called out for excellent coverage skills by the broadcast team. Not only was Tye Smith cut, but he wasn’t even brought back onto the Practice Squad! He could still be out there on the ghost roster, ready to be picked up during the season should a need arise, or try out for the 90-man next offseason, but that’s a pretty big blow. DeAndre Elliott, an undrafted rookie with a similar build to Smith, DID flash this pre-season. I remember seeing him mix it up quite a bit. He very well could be the next DeShawn Shead if he keeps at it, so that’s nice to see.
On the special teams, still no movement on the long snapper position. Nolan Frese, you may be safe for another week!