Trying To Predict A 2020 Seahawks Roster

I do one of these every year; they’re a waste of time, but they’re fun. There are, as with every new season, a number of intriguing battles coming up in training camp. It’ll be interesting to see who makes the cut (either because they’re going to contribute, or because we don’t want them poached by other teams), who is able to slide onto the expanded practice squad (however big it ends up being), and who washes out completely.

Mostly, I’m just interested in seeing if there’s a legitimate way for Shaquem Griffin to make this team, or if he has to beat out a significant role player from a year ago. I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Quarterback

  • Russell Wilson
  • Geno Smith
  • Anthony Gordon

This will be more interesting than it’s been in a LONG time, because for the first year since Wilson became entrenched as this team’s starter, I think there’s a legitimate chance this team keeps a third quarterback. Anthony Gordon comes as highly-touted as an undrafted quarterback gets, so the risk of trying to pawn him off on the practice squad could be too high. Also, given COVID concerns, it will be prudent to keep an extra one laying around just in case we’re short-handed for a week or two. The argument against that is, obviously, depth on this team is pretty great (with lots of young guys we’d prefer to keep around to fill starting roles in upcoming seasons), and it’s hard to justify having TWO quarterbacks who – if all goes according to plan – will never see the light of day. Also, without a preseason, there’s less of a chance for Gordon to shine. I’m leaning towards he makes the roster, but we’ll have to see what other teams do with their own cuts (the more injuries to the quarterback position around the league, the likelier it is that Gordon would get claimed).

Running Back

  • Chris Carson
  • DeeJay Dallas
  • Travis Homer
  • Carlos Hyde
  • Matt Nick Bellore (FB)

It is with a very reluctant and annoyed sigh that I include the fullback (whose first name I had to look up to confirm is NOT Matt) on this list. I put up with a lot as a Seahawks fan – first and foremost, the utter lack of cooking we let Russ participate in – but rostering a fullback is one of the more galling. He participates in a VERY small handful of offensive snaps per game, and otherwise is a Special Teams guy of no note (to me anyway, who – granted – doesn’t follow the Special Teams goings on all that closely). The rest of these running backs listed are self-explanatory (Rashaad Penny will start on the PUP list).

Wide Receiver & Tight End

  • Tyler Lockett
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Phillip Dorsett
  • David Moore
  • John Ursua or Freddie Swain
  • Will Dissly (TE)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)
  • Jacob Hollister (TE)
  • Cody Colby Parkinson or Luke Willson (TE)

I’ll be the first to admit, these spots are mostly a mystery to me. From a numbers standpoint, I think we’re looking at nine of these guys, with some very tough cuts to be made. I’m leaning towards Ursua given his experience, and Colby “don’t call me Cody” Parkinson (I really need to stop trying to do this based off of memory) over Willson only if Parkinson is healthy. Really, I could see a 3-way battle for two spots by throwing Hollister in there, but I think his overall effectiveness down the stretch last year as this team’s starter gives him the edge. Also, someone like Josh Gordon definitely throws a wrinkle into this mix (if he’s reinstated by the league), but in that case I would expect David Moore to get chopped, because they essentially play the same receiver spot, while Ursua/Swain are both projected to be slot guys.

Offensive Line

  • B.J. Finney
  • Duane Brown
  • Phil Haynes
  • Mike Iupati
  • Damien Lewis
  • Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Brandon Shell
  • Ethan Pocic or Kyle Fuller
  • Jamarco Jones or Jordan Simmons

I’m pretty sold on these being your nine to eleven offensive linemen, depending on what the team wants to do (and how big the rosters actually are this season). Of the projected “safe” bets, Iupati is probably on the shakiest ground – considering his age and likelihood of wearing down over the course of the season – but I like him to make it and be a starter out of the gate since there won’t be any pre-season games (and the team will likely want to settle on an official Starting Five relatively early in camp, to give them the most reps and allow for the most continuity as possible).

The offense, as listed, comes to 26 players. Usually, you like a 25/25 split between offense and defense, but I don’t think it’s been totally settled how big rosters are going to be. If anything, I think I’m one spot low on the O-Line (there will almost certainly be 10 guys kept there), which could mean nothing, or could mean our third quarterback pipe dream goes POOF!

Cornerback & Safety

  • Shaquill Griffin
  • Tre Flowers
  • Neiko Thorpe
  • Ugo Amadi
  • Marquise Blair (FS)
  • Jamal Adams (SS)
  • Quandre Diggs (FS)
  • Lano Hill (SS)
  • Quinton Dunbar or CB TBD

I’m not calling Amadi a safety – even though he’s listed as such – because everyone keeps saying he’s going to be in the running for a nickel cornerback spot. That would, in effect, make Lano Hill’s standing on this team relatively secure, but we’ll see (because I still don’t think he’s very good). Quinton Dunbar, obviously, has a bevy of legal hurdles to clear before he can play again, which could open up a spot for one of our young guys to be a surprise contender. D.J. Reed – recently claimed off of waivers from the 49ers – figures to be injured until late into the season, but could provide a nice boost in November or December, if he recovers okay.

Defensive Line

  • L.J. Collier
  • Rasheem Green
  • Benson Mayowa
  • Alton Robinson
  • Darrell Taylor
  • Poona Ford (DT)
  • Jarran Reed (DT)
  • Bryan Mone (DT)
  • DL TBD

The consensus is: we’re at least one defensive tackle short on this roster. Of course, there are tweeners – like Collier and Green – who can slide inside, but word on the street is the Seahawks are seriously considering a street free agent to be a boost to our outside pass rush (Everson Griffen or even Clay Matthews maybe), which really makes me wonder what this unit is going to look like when it’s all said and done.

Linebacker

  • Bobby Wagner
  • K.J. Wright
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Jordyn Brooks
  • Cody Barton
  • Ben Burr-Kirven
  • Shaquem Griffin

When you factor in Bruce Irvin largely playing defensive end, as well as Shaquem Griffin, that’s a lot of edge rushing on this team. That puts the official number at 25 players for defense (although, again, I’m probably one short on the defensive line, when it comes to the D-Tackle spot specifically). I mean, unless rosters are expanded to a full 55 players (26 offense, 26 defense, 3 special teams specialists), there will be some REALLY difficult cuts to be made here.

We’re still a week away from training camp getting started, so obviously a lot can change between now and then. I’m sure I’ll be off-base in any number of ways! Such is the fun and the pointlessness of an exercise like this.

The Seahawks Made Some Interesting Cuts After Trading For Jamal Adams

We’re all looking for a little bit of meaning to this thing called life. What are we here for? What’s the point of it all?

As sports fans, we’re also looking for a little bit of meaning to certain roster moves our teams make. Over the weekend, the Seahawks traded for Jamal Adams. Not long after that, it was announced the Seahawks cut Branden Jackson and Joey Hunt, saving a combined just-over $4 million. There were other cuts made – teams have to trim rosters from 90 to 80 players, thanks to COVID-19 concessions due to less money coming in on the season – but the only real notable player among that group was guard Jordan Roos, who’s just a guy.

They’re all just guys, really. Jackson and Hunt were both on restricted free agent deals which are not guaranteed. They were also, at best, here to compete, but not very likely to earn starting jobs with this team. The Seahawks spent big money to bring in B.J. Finney to be this team’s center (money that IS largely guaranteed), so that ruled Hunt out. You don’t mind keeping a guy like Hunt around to get through training camp and pre-season, but with no pre-season, and with roster cuts needing to be made relatively soon, it no longer makes as much sense to string him along. As for Jackson, he’s never been anything but a back-of-the-roster depth piece. The Seahawks have invested in a lot of younger players – as well as a couple of key veterans in Bruce Irvin & Benson Mayowa – so they’re not going to devote significant snaps to someone with little upside and little actual talent.

Plus, this way, these guys get a chance to catch on with another team ahead of the start of the season (apparently, Jordan “Just A Guy” Roos has already been claimed by the Raiders).

I wrote those first three paragraphs two days ago in hopes that we’d have a little more clarity on this front, but all has been pretty quiet since then. The 2020 draft picks are all signed, which was a mere formality anyway. I had sort of hoped we’d hear something about David Moore – who’s also a restricted free agent playing on a similar tender as Hunt and Jackson – either related to a restructured deal or a cut for salary relief, but so far nothing.

Similarly, I had sort of hoped we’d hear about a free agent signing along the defensive line. I’ve given up the dream on Clowney – shit man, he might not sign ANYWHERE given how this free agency period has gone for him! – but I thought maybe another defensive tackle, at the very least! There is, of course, still plenty of time, as this week is being devoted to COVID-19 testing before the players are allowed to meet in person (three negative tests by this weekend for that to be a reality), but you don’t want to let things drag on too long, with so many solid names still available in free agency.

In more unpleasant news, Quinton Dunbar was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, which means he is not allowed to join training camp, presumably until his outside legal issues have been worked out. I think this is the NFL’s way of saying he’s likely up shit’s creek with a turd paddle and that he’s going to be suspended eventually for his crimes (as if, you know, going to PRISON isn’t punishment enough).

So, HEY, Tre Flowers! No hard feelings, huh?! We always believed in you; you’re the BEST!

The Seahawks Cut Justin Britt & D.J. Fluker

As expected, the Seahawks made a couple of cost-saving cuts to the offensive line. Expected because the Seahawks needed the extra money to put towards other needs, and because they ended up signing a million offensive linemen over the last few months!

This helps to bring things into a little more clarity. As I alluded to yesterday, dropping Fluker not only frees up approximately three and a half million dollars from our salary cap, but clears the way for rookie right guard Damien Lewis to step in and immediately lock down an important spot on the O-Line. They’re all important, but I would argue given our quarterback – and the division we play in – guards arguably hold more importance on this team and how it wants to perform offensively. Russell Wilson needs space in front of him to be able to function at peak capacity; if the tackles suck, he can always run around them to find open spaces, but if the guards suck, giant, angry assholes will swallow him whole!

Of course, nothing will be handed to a rookie, but it would make a lot of sense to give Lewis every opportunity, when you consider his low salary point, as well as the fact that so many of our offensive linemen are on short-term deals. It would be nice to have one of the five spots set in place for the next four years.

There’s only one guarantee at this point in the league year: Duane Brown will remain our Pro Bowl left tackle for at least 2020, if not also 2021. From there, we’ve got competition across the board.

Mike Iupati figures to be the leader in the clubhouse for the starting left guard spot. He was our starter last year, he’s being fairly well-compensated on another one-year deal, and he has a history with our offensive line coach and in this league as a reliable presence. When you factor in how the Seahawks will likely have someone new playing center in 2020, it would be nice to have some stability in place to help him out with line calls and whatnot. Iupati’s biggest competitor figures to be Phil Haynes, who was a rookie last year that the team likes an awful lot. Haynes obviously isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, so I’m not AS bothered with Iupati sticking around; but it would be nice to be able to hand a second O-Line spot to a young up-and-comer. On that end, Iupati is old, and not likely to play a full 16-game season, so figure Haynes – if he can stay healthy – should get some more experience regardless.

Newcomer B.J. Finney looks like he’ll get the nod at center. He signed a 2-year deal for pretty significant money, and is coming off of a quality year with the Steelers last year. Joey Hunt – who took over for Britt last year – will give him all he can handle in the competition, but the fact that the Seahawks can save a little over $2 million by cutting him surely will play a factor in the decision here. I can’t imagine the team being comfortable with a no-name for a backup at center, so if Pocic doesn’t step up and prove he can handle the position (and more importantly, actually stay healthy), we might be stuck with Hunt regardless. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but obviously you’d like to allocate those dollars along the defensive line if possible.

Factoring in the competition for right guard, Lewis will have to tangle with a lot of holdovers. Phil Haynes, Jordan Roos, Jordan Simmons (among others), as well as newcomer Chance Warmack (another of those one-year deal guys, who is coming off of a year away from the game to get healthy, but comes with a high pedigree and a lot of experience in the league). My hunch is Lewis will win the starting job, but Warmack will stick around regardless as a veteran backup. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Haynes continue to get work at center just in case; he would figure to be the next-man-up in any interior offensive line injury situation.

Finally, at right tackle, Brandon Shell is the presumptive starter, as he too signed a pretty lucrative contract this offseason. Jamarco Jones will continue to compete here, but he’s had injury issues of his own that have hampered him in his young career. Newcomer Cedric Ogbuehi will also factor in the running, but he strikes me as more of an insurance backup than anything else, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him get cut if he struggles (and if the youngsters manage to stay healthy and look good).

Here’s my hunch for what the Seahawks’ offensive line looks like in 2020:

  • LT – Duane Brown
  • LG – Mike Iupati
  • C – B.J. Finney
  • RG – Damien Lewis
  • RT – Brandon Shell

And here are five backups I’m predicting will make the cut:

  • Phil Haynes
  • Chance Warmack
  • Jamarco Jones
  • Joey Hunt
  • Jordan Simmons

I wonder how close I’ll be! I wonder if I’ll ever remember to come back to this and find out!

I doubt I will!

The Seahawks Made Some Little Moves This Week

I don’t think any of the things I’m about to talk about will move the needle in any significant way – in your interest-level of the 2020 Seahawks, or in actual game-impact – but stuff happened and I feel compelled to talk about when stuff happens (considering how little stuff has been happening of late).

Neiko Thorpe. How does that guy float your boat? When you lead off a post about a guy who plays almost-exclusively on Special Teams (and not even as a return man, but just a guy who stops opposing return men sometimes), I should think that lowers your expectations in a hurry that we’re going to be discussing anyone of actual import. I like Neiko Thorpe! Don’t get me wrong here, guys like him have value. He does a lot of the dirty work and he does it quite well. There are so many little hidden plays on Special Teams that don’t really get the credit they deserve, that you can get a lot of impact from a guy like Thorpe without having to spend a lot of money.

But, also, like, his next tackle will be his 100th (in what will be his eighth season). If you just look at his stat sheet, you’ll see that his biggest contribution there – to the Seahawks anyway – are the three fumble recoveries he’s collected in his four seasons here. Also, not for nothing, but the number of games he’s been healthy for has gone down every year he’s been here (he played in a career-low seven games in 2019). With Thorpe, you’re looking for consistency. But, he brings nothing to the table defensively, and ideally I think you’d like to fill that roster spot with someone who’s not ONLY a standout on Special Teams, but someone who can contribute in some sort of meaningful way – at least on a rotational basis – in some of the nickel or dime packages.

Working my way down the list of Seahawks moves, they rescinded the Exclusive Rights Free Agent tender to Malik Turner. You might remember Malik Turner as the receiver who dropped the WIDE OPEN would-be first down throw late in the NFC Divisional Round game in Green Bay. I’m not saying he single-handedly cost us a chance to advance, but I’ll go ahead and let you finish this sentence for yourself.

Word has trickled in that the Seahawks might still be interested in keeping Turner, but not necessarily guaranteeing him the money he’d get as an ERFA-tendered player (what little that is, anyway). This is similar to what they did with Jordan Simmons, though with Simmons the concern was more injury-related. Turner just might not be good! Also, this rookie draft class looks to be STACKED with talent at wide receiver. Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, David Moore, and Phillip Dorsett are all virtual locks to make the team (barring something completely out-of-the-blue); so there just might not be any room at the inn for ol’ Turner (especially if we use one of our top two or three draft picks on yet another stud receiver). Therefore, guaranteeing Turner ANYTHING seems idiotic, and you wonder why we even tendered him in the first place (you also wonder why he hadn’t signed his tender yet, but maybe that’s normal).

Finally, I guess the Seahawks are just going to sign every single middling interior offensive lineman NFL free agency has to offer? If you thought they were done after tendering Joey Hunt, signing B.J. Finney, Chance Warmack, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi, and bringing back Jordan Simmons (on top of the holdovers we’ve got, like Jamarco Jones, Ethan Pocic, Phil Haynes, and still-future-cap-casualty Justin Britt), then apparently you’re nuts, because not only CAN’T the Seahawks stop, but for some reason they also WON’T stop. It’s really something; someone should call a doctor.

Mike Iupati is back! If he’s back, then that means he’s in the running to continue starting at left guard. If that’s the case, then you figure he has to be the frontrunner at that spot, because he started for us last year, he’s a solid long-time veteran, and he’s got a history of great success in this league. So, if he’s the frontrunner, then WHAT THE FUCK are we doing with all of these other guys we brought in?!

This tells me that there will be multiple significant cuts along the offensive line, not just Britt. There could be a real surprise release somewhere in the mix (I’m looking at D.J. Fluker, if I’m being honest), which makes me wonder – of all these O-Line contracts we’ve handed out this offseason – how many of them are fully guaranteed? Which of these guys are camp fodder being thrown into the mix as “competition”, but probably don’t have a realistic chance to win a starting job or even make the team?

The move I understand probably the least is Joey Hunt. He’s making a little over $2 million this year on his original round (sixth) tender. He took over at center for Britt last year and was Good Enough. In all honesty, as a sixth round draft pick, I think we’ve managed to squeeze the most possible value out of someone with his size and skillset. He’s youngish, he’s stayed relatively healthy in his career, he’s shown real toughness and grit in dealing with some of the fiercest defensive tackles in football; at around $2 million, I’m happy spending that amount of money on someone who’s going to be my starting center. But, if he’s going to be in a dogfight with three or four other guys, and ends up losing out to someone like Finney or Pocic or even Haynes, then $2 million is kind of a lot of money to spend on a backup (especially with how tight up against the salary cap the Seahawks are every single year).

We’ll see, I guess! Ours is not to reason why and all that.

The Seahawks Signed Chance Warmack & No Other Stuff Happened

Another offensive lineman! I guess this year’s draft is a piece of shit when it comes to the O-Line, so the Seahawks are going hard in free agency to hedge some bets.

I guess I took more stock in D.J. Fluker’s status as a starting guard a little more seriously as I should’ve. Granted, Warmack sounds more like a left guard, but then how do you explain B.J. Finney’s 2-year deal? Unless Finney really is going to vie for the starting center job with Joey Hunt.

The point is, I guess the Seahawks have a lot of options, all across the board. Duane Brown locks down the left tackle spot. Warmack and Finney might compete for left guard with youngsters Jamarco Jones, Ethan Pocic, and Phil Haynes. Hunt, Pocic, and Finney might compete for center (with Britt MAYBE, but I doubt he’ll be around). Then, you’ve got Fluker, Finney, and the youngsters also going after the right guard spot. And, finally, there’s Brandon Shell, Cedric … Ogbuehi, and I don’t know who else going after the right tackle spot (though, I feel pretty secure in anointing Shell at this point, based on his experience).

I think this is all good. I feel MUCH more comfortable going with veteran re-treads over rookies any day, but there’s enough potential here to build something better than average. The holdovers are all either great (Brown) or solid (Hunt, Jones, Fluker), with the new depth holding limitless possibilities (particularly Warmack and Shell; Finney to a lesser extent), and some of the younger guys having a lot of promise (everyone seems high on Haynes, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to totally quit Pocic, especially if he’s the center).

Depth! Depth at a critical position of need on a team where it’ll make a world of difference. We all know Russell Wilson can manage without a top notch O-Line, but he’s unlocked and allowed to go off when he’s got even a modicum of protection. He thrives, the running game thrives, and the offense as a whole is really free to do its thing.

These are also relatively cheap deals, meaning there’s still a significant reserve of funds available (especially with a few key roster cuts) to bolster the defense. As a plus, this frees us up in the draft to go hard after some high-risk/high-reward defenders. Considering where we’re picking (27th overall) and considering where our D-Line ranked last year, I think it’s time to roll the dice again. They’re not all Malik McDowells! Sometimes they’re Frank Clarks! I mean, as I write that, it doesn’t sound totally great, but on the field Clark was a beast and that’s what I’m talking about here! Finding a beast in this year’s draft who maybe didn’t allegedly do … things, you know what? Nevermind. Whatever the Seahawks want to do, or not do. Whatever.

No one said it was easy being a sports fan.

The Seahawks Signed B.J. Finney & Other Stuff

2 years, $8 million. We’re talking about a guy who was never really a starter – though he started a few games here and there – but how good can he be? He was a 4-year backup for the Steelers, which right off the bat, they usually strike me as a good offensive line team. So, you know, that beats picking up some scrub from the Cardinals or Seahawks or something.

It looks like this guy is either going to be a left guard or center, though I suppose he could flop over to right guard in a pinch (but I don’t know if I see Fluker going anywhere). It just so happens with Iupati a free agent, and Britt a likely cap casualty, the Seahawks have a very real need for both of those positions. Also, with the dearth of talent along our defensive line demanding the most of our salary attention, the Seahawks have a very real need for CHEAP alternatives at left guard and center. 2 years, $8 million is pretty cheap for a starting offensive lineman (on top of whatever Joey Hunt gets for his original-round tender, assuming no other team snaps him up).

Now, whether Finney is actually good enough to start at offensive line remains to be seen. He’s listed at 6’4, 318, so presumably he isn’t going to be pushed around. I think ideally you’d love to play him at center over guard, but that’s mostly due to the Vietnam-style flashbacks we all experience whenever we imagine Joey Hunt being shoved back into Russell Wilson’s face like he’s wearing a pair of roller skates. But, then that means we’re paying $2+ million for Hunt to be a backup, which doesn’t seem likely. That would also necessitate the Seahawks picking up yet another guy to play left guard (because there’s no way Hunt is the ideal body type for that spot), which will only cost us more money.

So, for now, it looks like Duane Brown, B.J. Finney, Joey Hunt, D.J. Fluker, TBD, from left to right.

The plus side, of course, is that if Finney proves himself, then the Seahawks just signed a STEAL to be their starting left guard for the next two years. For what it’s worth, from the potential value alone I like this deal more than I like the one for Jarran Reed on the other side of the ball (though Reed’s production will likely prove to be more critical if this team is going to return to the playoffs in 2020). Finney doesn’t strike me as a guy with any significant injury issues, so that’s a step up from an old fart like Iupati (and Fluker, for that matter, and every other interior lineman on this roster to boot). If he ends up being legitimately great, then who knows? Maybe we’ve landed on our Left Guard Of The Future!

***

In other news, I guess Quinton Jefferson signed with the Bills. He’s a fine rotational piece, but as one of the premiere linemen for the Seahawks last year, he wasn’t good enough. So, spending any real resources whatsoever would’ve been money poorly spent. I wish him well on a Bills defense that looks like it’ll be even more stacked than it was last year (as a legitimate top 10 or top 5 unit in the league).

Also going to the Bills: Stefon Diggs (thank Christ!). If he was disgruntled in Minnesota with a dumpy, inaccurate, mediocre guy throwing to him, just wait until he gets a load of Josh Allen! There’s no way the Vikings didn’t do this on purpose! I wouldn’t be shocked if they turned down a significantly-better deal elsewhere just to ship Diggs off to Siberia to play for this generation’s Rick Mirer!

Finally, because I guess it has to be talked about by everyone: Tom Brady is going to Tampa. I want it on the record that I called this last year, when people were starting to talk about where he might go if he ever left New England. Of course, I never believed in a million years that he’d actually LEAVE New England, but that’s neither here nor there. He struck me as such a Bruce Arians-type of quarterback (old, white, used-to-be-successful-but-is-now-sorta-washed-up) that after a year with Jameis throwing 30+ interceptions, he’d back the Brinks truck up in front of Brady’s house! And with that offense, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Brady’s numbers skyrocket (he’s making me seriously re-think my fantasy football keepers for next year, I’ll tell you that much).

That all being said, I don’t necessarily believe the Bucs are automatically a playoff team. We’ll see if their defense shows up. We’ll also see if their offensive line holds up (because if Brady gets hurt, it could get ugly in a hurry). I would also caution tossing any dirt on the grave of the Patriots (though I find the idea of Cam Newton playing there to be endlessly entertaining).