Every NFL decision maker has pride and an ego. Pete Carroll and John Schneider are no different. The way they went about cutting their roster yesterday almost suggested otherwise.
Most GM’s in the league won’t cut a fourth round pick after a matter of weeks. Not unless something seriously goes wrong, like they get arrested or regularly turn up late for practise.
Chris Harper did neither of these things. Yet today he’s hoping someone else will give him a shot on an active roster in the National Football League.
Harper was the highest pick in the 2013 draft to get cut on Saturday (Tyler Wilson, taken 11 places earlier, was released by Oakland on Sunday). He had an uneventful camp, with reports suggesting he failed to flash in practise. He was virtually invisible in pre-season until the Raiders game.
He was also trying to master one of the more difficult positions in the sport. A position where traditionally rookies are given time to work on their routes, learn the playbook and hone their technique.
Not Chris Harper. Not unless he makes it to the practise squad.
The Seahawks wasted no time in cutting their fourth round pick. I guarantee virtually every other team in the NFL would’ve stashed Harper on the roster and given him time. Not the Seahawks.
Ego. Pride. That’s why most other teams wouldn’t have quit on a young receiver so quickly.
GM’s and coaches hate to admit they got something wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interview with a front office executive where they admitted, “Yep — we messed up.”
It just doesn’t happen.
Some players get far too many chances. The higher the pick, the more opportunities you’ll get. Frequently that’s to the detriment of the whole team.
Conventional wisdom says you stand by Harper. I argued many times on this blog that he’d make the 53 and be given the opportunity, like Jaye Howard a year ago, to develop and learn in a ‘red-shirt’ season. Yesterday, both Harper and Howard were ruthlessly cut.
People like me should stop trying to predict Carroll and Schneider. We won’t, because it’s fun to guess. But we should know not to speak with authority or assurance on what they’ll do. The fact is nobody knows. And it’s damn interesting to follow.
The rest of the NFL will no doubt catch on if the Seahawks continue their upward curve. If they succeed in 2013, I wouldn’t want to be a fourth round pick next year.
(well, actually I would because, you know, the cash)
For now most teams will continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. Which is why on Saturday Oakland were carrying four quarterbacks on their 53 man roster and two punters. They aren’t alone. There are multiple franchises today carrying players for the wrong reasons.
It’s why the Tim Ruskell Seahawks held onto two full backs one year and two kickers another. Ruskell probably wasn’t the first and maybe won’t be the last to stash a ‘kicker of the future’ on his roster. A laughable move in hindsight.
If you want another example of ego/pride vs reality, you only have to look at Ruskell’s cutting of Michael Bennett in 2009. He lit up pre-season and made the 53-man roster, only to be waived for Kyle Williams in October during an injury crisis on the offensive line. You can bet anything had he been a draft pick he would’ve stuck around to justify the investment. Because he was merely an UDFA, he was sent packing and quickly signed for Tampa Bay.
The rest is history.
Here’s a list of players who also made it onto Seattle’s 2009 roster but survived the distance:
Mike Teel — a sixth round pick and #3 quarterback who would almost certainly have made the practise squad yet was retained. We’ll never know the reason why. Unless the Seahawks truly believed Teel could be a quarterback for the future and would be snatched up on waivers, maintaining him over a player like Bennett was completely futile.
Justin Griffith and Owen Schmitt — yes, Seattle carried two full backs in 2009. Griffith was a veteran free agent addition familiar with offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and Schmitt a 5th round pick in his second year with the team. Which begs the question, if Schmitt wasn’t ready to start in year two — why was he still on the roster after the addition of Griffith?
Nick Reed — an undersized pass rushing 7th round pick who also had a successful pre-season yet lacked the obvious physical qualities to translate into regular season production. Reed lasted the whole season while Bennett was cut. That’s what being a 7th rounder vs an UDFA will do for you. Although it should’ve never been a Reed vs Bennett battle to survive.
It is mind blowing to think Seattle kept a pointless third quarterback nobody else would’ve wanted and two full backs instead of Michael Bennett. Mind. Blowing.
And it’s the kind of decision the current front office would never make. Not in a million years. Thankfully. Other teams still do stuff like this though.
The weekends events also validate Carroll’s “always compete” mantra. Although certain players will get more time than others (James Carpenter a good example), for the most part anything goes. Which is why Antoine Winfield has retired this weekend and Michael Robinson has been cut.
If you’re going to preach a philosophy, you have to be prepared to back it up. And now the Seahawks have two great examples to do just that — this years aggressive cuts and the decision to start Russell Wilson last season because he was simply the right man for the job.
Whether the Seahawks deliver on all the expectation in 2013 and beyond remains to be seen. This is still a regime with the conviction to follow through with its vision.
Of course, you’re not going to be challenged too often when you find a franchise quarterback in round three, a shutdown corner in round five, an elite pass rusher in the bargain bin and steal Marshawn Lynch away from Buffalo. A lot of other front office personnel haven’t bought enough stock to be able to cut mid round picks after a few weeks. But still…
While cutting a fourth round pick will sting, releasing Chris Harper is still a long way away from the kind of abject decision making witnessed during the Ruskell days.
For that, they should be applauded.