Seahawks 53-man roster forecast: Everyone gets traded edition!

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Note: This is a look at a potential group of 53 players the Seattle Seahawks could assemble if it made several hypothetical trades, building on Seattle’s move Friday shipping Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets for Sheldon Richardson, as well as rumors Jeremy Lane and Alex Collins could also be on the loading dock, together with nose tackle Ahtyba Rubin. I don’t actually expect these other trades to happen, but the Seahawks additionally acquiring another young cornerback and the money freed by Doug Baldwin Friday suggest Lane could still be swapped out to make more room for yet another Richardson-sized contract in 2017, or just to replace some of those lost selections—either way this list assumes ALL of those trades, just because it’s fun and hectic.

So it’s not so much a prediction as an exploration of what Seattle could do to resolve several key spots and which bubble candidates might seize the openings if some of these extra depth slots opened up via trade. Because even more names will be available once roster cutdowns are complete, I’m projecting the roster before week one, not necessarily immediately after cuts. I’m not planning on bullseyeing the players off waivers, but it gives a sense what positions the front office may target. Most likely more news will break later Friday nullifying some of this post but that’s okay because it was never going to happen anyway!

The Seahawks currently have around $9 million in total cap availability, but closer to $5 million after setting some of that aside for future and present injured reserve contracts, practice squad payroll and other contingencies in case of injury or need later in the year. Trading Lane and Rubin for future draft picks gains an additional $9 million or so. I’m putting that surplus $14 million toward some of the players on this imaginary roster. New players in bold.

Let’s begin:

Quarterbacks:

Russell Wilson (1), Colin Kaepernick (2)

I don’t think Austin Davis necessarily overtook Trevone Boykin in the race for second quarterback with his late-period heroics against the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders; the coaches will still count a training camp period in which Boykin was reportedly looking very confident and seizing his opportunity to separate himself. The problem is I don’t think Seattle can roll in the regular season with the chance for a leading performance like Boykin showed last night should Wilson go down. The best solution would tie up more money in the position than the Seahawks probably want—I think they would have to go halfway toward giving Kaepernick a deal more substantial than discussed in the summer, but either way would be a discount for an undervalued asset.

Running backs:

Thomas Rawls (3), Eddie Lacy, (4), C.J. Prosise (5), Chris Carson (6), J.D. McKissic (7)

Toyed with trading Lacy too, for the sake of this column, but I think by signing him Seattle showed they really desire a back of his type—Lacy hasn’t looked a whole lot better than Collins in the preseason, but eliminating one would probably mean keeping the other. Eddie’s contract is fatter, but also harder to move in this case. McKissic is there for special teams returns, but also for the positionless gambit he supplies coordinators that will probably belong to Marcel Reece in a few weeks. If needed, lead blocking can come from …

Tight ends:

Jimmy Graham (8), Luke Willson (9), Nick Vannett (10), Tyrone Swoopes (11)

Hearing more and more about a roster spot reserved for the former Texas quarterback we showcased back in May. I don’t think Swoopes will be much of a contributor his rookie year but the premium talent is probably also not likely to slide to the practice squad. The Seahawks carried four tight ends a year ago, including Brandon Williams, but probably don’t need it now that Graham is 100 percent; still I think they like Swoopes as an ace card later in the year.

Wide receivers:

Doug Baldwin (12), Tyler Lockett (13), Paul Richardson (14), Kasen Williams (15), Tanner McEvoy (16), Amara Darboh (17)

After a week spent debating if Kasen Williams had played either 2016 undrafted part-time sensation McEvoy or 2017 third round pick Darboh off the roster, and declaring Kearse’s place solidified, all that shifts with the departure of the cuddly Seattle hero.

Offensive line:

Rees Odhiambo (18), Luke Joeckel (19), Justin Britt (20), Oday Aboushi (21), Germain Ifedi (22), Mark Glowinski (23), Matt Tobin (24), Ethan Pocic (25), Brad Seaton (26)

(*An earlier version of this story inadvertently left out Pocic)

With extra salary space in the pocket, many Seahawks will start eyeing offensive line contracts around the league wondering why John Schneider doesn’t do a simple arithmetic equation. Problem is few of the valuable tackles are going to be dealt and none of the effective ones are available outside a contract. Even with money to burn, Matt Tobin is already about as useful a veteran as they find. Seattle’s best bet may be to hope one of the huge wave of players released Saturday is one they had targeted in the draft.

Like I said in the Seaside Chats podcast earlier this week, that’s like a free pick!

Without any foresight who will be dropped, I choose the Tennessee Titans’ Seaton, picked about a dozen selections after the Seahawks chose Justin Senior this year. Seaton has decent athleticism, a George Fant-like body though not as much athleticism, and is stuck in Tennessee behind a tackle group about as deep as the Seahawks running backs. The New England Patriots’ Conor McDermott could be another option.

Kicking specialists (Half time):

Blair Walsh (27), Tyler Ott (28), Jon Ryan (29)

What a relief that long snapper isn’t part of the frenzy of this year’s cutdown.

Defensive line:

Sheldon Richardson (30), Michael Bennett (31), Cliff Avril (32), Frank Clark (33), Jarran Reed (34), Cassius Marsh (35), Nazair Jones (36), Quinton Jefferson (37), Daniel McCullers (38)

This is an outrageously effective group at getting to the quarterback. The part that smells wrong about the Rubin rumors is how the main thing already missing was another block-eating log cabin of a human to give Rubin a rest on some run downs. Garrison Smith or Rodney Coe are in that competition right now, but with big number 77 gone then Seattle would really have a need to fill. Reed and Jones can play in that role a little bit, but each are better lining up next to likes of Rubin and penetrating to the backfield. Because I think what Rubin did is so essential to Kris Richard’s scheme, rather than Coe or Smith, I added who I see as the best true nose likely to lose his job. McCullers is thicker and younger than Rubin and on a short contract would be in a situation more closely resembling when Rubin first landed on Seattle in 2015.

I had been wanting all along to get 10 men on this rotation and also to put David Bass on the roster to reward his performance and versatility both inside and at the end in the exhibitions, but Richardson can do that and so much more.

Safeties:

Earl Thomas (39), Kam Chancellor (40), Bradley McDougald (41), Delano Hill (42), Tedric Thompson (43)

With McDougald on a one-year term, I don’t accept the belief that Thompson sits on the bubble. There’s more going on than the games and the Seahawks picked Thompson for a time beyond now.

Cornerbacks:

Richard Sherman (44), Shaquill Griffin (45), Neiko Thorpe (46), Pierre Desir (47), Justin Coleman (48)

I mentioned on the podcast that if DeAndre Elliott, Boykin and McEvoy didn’t make the team, it would wipe out the inspiring cadre of seven (7) undrafted free agents who made the opening-week roster as rookies in 2016 (Tani Tupou, Nolan Frese and Tyvis Powell are long gone, with George Fant headed to IR). If anything, Elliott’s injury rather preserves his future with the club, since I had Thorpe and Desir making it ahead of Elliott to begin with. Now Coleman will get to face them off to see who lasts beyond the PUP-return of DeShawn Shead.

Linebackers:

Bobby Wagner (49), K.J. Wright (50), Michael Wilhoite (51), Marcus Smith (52), Terence Garvin (53)

It’s Garvin versus Dewey McDonald for last linebacker spot, since I think Wilhoite’s ability to play all three positions saves him from his knees and Smith probably starts at SAM in 4-3 base. As for Garvin and Dewey Mac, they’re both useful on special teams and I don’t know the whole calculus of how many of those bodies Seattle needs to keep. But they’re also both “big safety” types so may be redundant. It never hurts to have linebacker depth, but the way the rest of the roster shakes out leaves little room.

Given what was available, I didn’t spend as much of the balance as I expected. Maybe there’s another star wearing out his welcome that Seattle can nab up. If not, Schneider can roll the few extra million over to next year’s cap like the Green Bay Packers do every year, building even more opportunity to galvanize the 2018 Seahawks into a super team.

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