Cuts: David Greene, Derek Devine
Hasselbeck is the obvious incumbent, and Wallace the fifth-year understudy. Wallace alternated between veteran-level acumen and inexplicable “goat-throws” in the 2007 preseason, putting up a 75.3 quarterback rating and throwing as many interceptions as he did touchdowns with three each. The current short depth at the position would seem to eliminate any chance of Wallace getting shots at receiver or return opportunities.
Of course, the Seahawks will be thinking about several quarterbacks for a backup role – rumors have already surrounded Washington’s Mark Brunell, and waived Titans signal-caller Tim Rattay would seem to be a good fit. After three years in Seattle’s system with very little to show for it, Greene simply eradicated the patience of those who were charged with his future in Seattle – most notably Mike Holmgren. In truth, the only reason that Greene wasn’t included in the 21 cuts before the Alvin Pearman trade that made his release a certainty was that the Seahawks were trying to see if they could find a trading partner.
Alexander, Strong and Morris
certainly weren’t going anywhere. Weaver seemed to flirt with the bubble
after some inconsistency, but he rebounded strongly in the finale against the
Raiders. Weeks once again looked very good in the preseason, but the acquisition
of Pearman from Jacksonville for a conditional draft pick settled his future
on the roster. Pearman is a versatile but unspectacular back whose primary value
to Seattle will be an ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. Parry
is a good special-teamer, a reliable backup who might stick on the practice
Branch and Engram’s
positions on the team – flanker and slot – are cemented. Question
#1 is the split end position, and whether Hackett (the supposed default starter)
or Burleson (who really showed up in the preseason) will take it. A rotation
might be the best option there. Burleson’s additional ability as a return
man places Hackett in the catbird seat, but Hackett’s relative invisibility
this preseason didn’t help his case. Obomanu led all preseason Seahawks
receivers in catches, yards and touchdowns. He has a bright future with the
team. Taylor came back from a knee injury to look strong against the Raiders
in the last preseason game. Fernandez displayed ability as a return man, which
might put him on the practice squad. Kent’s freakish athleticism and raw
potential might do the same for the former Oregon Duck.
A thin position just got
thinner. Pollard looked strong this preseason, but his age has to be a concern
from a workload/durability standpoint. Heller is primarily a blocking tight
end (Ryan Hannam, the sequel), and Joppru is
primarily a special teams guy who is just hoping to stay off the injured reserve
list for once. Newton is a big, polished, intriguing player who could make strides
from the practice squad if he clears waivers.
at center are Chris Spencer as the starter and guard Chris Gray as a backup.
The positional domino effect from this lack of depth could be severe if Spencer
gets hurt for any period of time. On the other hand, Spencer may have been the
Seahawks’ most unheralded player this preseason in the way he took on
San Diego nose tackle Jamal Williams and Pat
and Kevin Williams of Minnesota. If he maintains
this level of play, Spencer is a possible Pro Bowl candidate. Sims is very strong
on the left side, and Gray’s experience mitigates his age concerns. Wrotto
shows potential, but Womack can’t be counted on to stay healthy for any
period of time, and he’s increasingly ineffective when he is in the game.
probably would have been released had he not injured his knee in the Oakland
Jones and Locklear are the
established veterans. Ashworth is a decent backup option on the right side,
and quite possibly the worst offensive lineman in the NFL as a left tackle.
Willis looked very solid at right tackle in the final two preseason games when
Jones was resting a sore shoulder and Locklear moved left. Though he was occasionally
flustered in pass-blocking situations, Willis might be a dominant run-blocker.
Any injury to Jones or Locklear means big trouble for the Seahawks, and the
second consecutive year of worrisome line depth is a big debit against the front
Kerney and Tapp are the
starters, two ends with more pass-rushing than run-stopping ability. Fisher
is the slightly less dynamic veteran who has more ability against the run than
any other Seahawks end. Atkins is a fast rookie, and Babin is an end/linebacker
hybrid who peeled off 20 pounds for the 2004 Scouting Combine and worked out
at both positions. He got lost in the shuffle as the Texans moved from a 3-4
to a 4-3, but the ability he had as a fearsomely quick end at Western
Michigan is still present and accounted for. The trend has been firmly established
– the Seahawks want thoroughbreds and not plowhorses on the ends, and
if it means that Tapp looks like Bryant McKinnie’s
“Mini-Me” whenever the Seahawks play the Vikings, pure speed will
be the tradeoff.
This unit – and the
whole team – was dealt a devastating blow when Tubbs was lost for the
year to a torn right ACL. A great deal of Seattle’s ability to stop the
run went out the window with Tubbs’ season. Mebane, the rookie from Cal
who was the star of training camp, will now be the pointman this season against
the likes of Steven Jackson, Frank
Gore, Edgerrin James, Reggie
Bush, Deuce McAllister, Brian
Westbrook … welcome to the NFL, kid. Darby is a 275-pound bowling
ball with some pursuit ability, but the Seahawks need to quit miscasting him
as a run-stopper of any stripe. Davis is a decent big body, and Bernard is Seattle’s
best pass-rushing tackle. Terrill excels on special teams and he’s solid
in the rotation – a good situational player.
Whatever the Seahawks’
roster issues may be, they might just have the NFL’s best linebacker corps
from top to bottom. Even the scrubs played like studs this preseason. Tatupu,
Hill and Peterson should form the league’s dominant 4-3 set of ‘backers
after some now-solved schematic issues stopped them just short of their potential
in 2006. Bentley saw a lot of time in the preseason, and Koutouvides was outstanding,
especially on special teams. Herring and Laury have potential, though Herring’s
size may limit him to a future on the return squads.
Trufant and Jennings will
be the stars of a secondary with more questions than answers. Trufant has looked
better since his move back to the left side, but he’s still vulnerable
in coverage. Jennings is fast and has great recovery speed, but tackling is
a problem. Wilson is an outstanding kick returner and a very good tackler, but
he’s a rookie and he’s gong to be embarrassed in coverage for a
while – it’s just par for the course. If the Seahawks could somehow
combine the best qualities of their three primary cornerbacks into two, and
add a heaping portion of Babineaux’s versatility, they’d be among
the elite. As it is, this position will see its share of knocks in 2007.
After a demotion in 2006
and the acquisition of Grant and Russell before the 2007 season, Boulware’s
departure wasn’t exactly a surprise. Sources say that if a trade was not
forthcoming, he may have been cut outright. Grant and Russell have not impressed
in coverage so far, but we’re hoping that’s more about Seattle’s
vanilla preseason schemes than two expensive Seahawks mistakes. Grant has been
a great tackler, which is a plus, even if many of those tackles have been recoveries
from bad coverages. Wallace led the team in preseason interceptions and used
every fiber of his being to play his way onto the team – his determination
against the Raiders was a beautiful sight, and he’s the lone 2007 undrafted
free agent to make the final 53.
Brown and Plackemeier are among the most effective in the NFL. Rackley, however, needs a new GPS for his long snaps. This is a position the Seahawks might want to think about upgrading.