Key positions battles
If Robert Turbin’s injury is serious it seems fairly obvious to IR him. Is it worth losing your one allotted ‘IR with a designation to return’ card on a backup running back? It’s a tough break for Turbin in a contract year — but the Seahawks might need that IR spot later in the season for a starter.
Fred Jackson would be the ideal replacement after week one when his contract won’t be guaranteed. For now I think you run with both Christine Michael and Thomas Rawls as your running backs. If/when Jackson signs — I’d favour Michael over Rawls. There’s no doubt Rawls played well against Oakland’s second and third stringers yesterday — but running backs like him are available most years in the later rounds or UDFA pool. Michael showed flashes last season in limited action and is the only back on the roster who can find the edge with pure speed. I just don’t think Rawls has done enough to give up on Michael’s upside — even if he is on a shorter leash these days.
Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett are the locks. Paul Richardson is on the PUP list. Then it gets complicated. Ricardo Lockette is a key special teamer and that might be enough to secure a spot. However, he’s never progressed as a receiver and offers barely anything to the offense. He’s 29 and offers little in terms of long term potential. Chris Matthews remains a one-game wonder for now but also has some special teams value and provides the bid-bodied receiver Seattle has lacked.
Thinking about the future is important here. Baldwin is only contracted until the end of 2016. Kearse is a free agent after this season. Richardson has to prove he can come back from a second serious knee injury and stay healthy. The Seahawks need to start developing players as possible replacements — particularly for Kearse who might be difficult to keep.
Kevin Smith and Kalen Williams have both looked good enough to consider as possible Kearse replacements. However, neither is likely to feature in a run-heavy offense with Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson receiving most of the attention. That’s the attractive thing about Lockette and Matthews. They will find a way to contribute — even if it’s just on special teams. Smith and Williams are mainly developmental projects for now. Ideally they’d both land on the practise squad, as Kearse did originally. They might be able to stash one for now and retain the other until Richardson returns.
B.J. Daniels also comes into the equation. He can act as the #3 quarterback and feature on a trick play or two. He hasn’t really shown enough, however, to warrant consideration as a full-time receiver. If this is about getting as many active and contributing players on the roster (it is if you keep Lockette over Smith/Williams) — Daniels probably misses out unless his special teams value is incredibly high.
This is an interesting one because both T.Y. McGill and Jesse Williams impressed against Oakland. When asked about McGill, Pete Carroll was surprisingly lukewarm after the game. Carroll doesn’t play too many games when he talks — if there’s something he doesn’t want to say he just doesn’t say it. When he talks you can pretty much take it to the bank. With McGill they see potential that needs refining.
Williams took a knee at the end of the game in what looked like a really emotional moment. It was an opportunity to reflect on his battle with cancer, return to the game and how much he’s achieved to get this far. It was also perhaps a reflection on the possibility that it could be his last time on a NFL field. In many ways he offers something different — size, strength and run-stuffing quality. McGill’s skill set is very similar to the superior Jordan Hill. That could be a factor that works in Williams’ favour. They might be able to keep both anyway.
Having shown so much grit and determination to return to football — and with the tape proving he’s still a capable player — you have to wonder if one way or another they find a way to keep Jesse Williams on this team. Plus if you’re cutting Will Tukuafu let’s not forget Williams played some short-yardage full back for Alabama.
There’s some clarity at the cornerback position today. Richard Sherman (duh), Cary Williams, Will Blackmon and Tharold Simon look like the top four. Tye Smith has been neat and tidy and offers long term potential. Marcus Burley is more experienced and is perhaps a better fit working the slot. It makes sense to keep both and at least have some corner depth, even if DeShawn Shead can fit in too. They could still go out and add another CB currently on another roster.
QB — Wilson, Jackson
RB — Lynch, Michael, Rawls (Turbin IR)
FB — Coleman
WR — Baldwin, Kearse, Lockett, Lockette, Matthews, Smith (Williams PS)
TE — Graham, Willson, McCoy
OL — Okung, Britt, Nowak, Sweezy, Gilliam, Bailey, Lewis, Glowinski, Sokoli, Poole
DE — Bennett, Avril, Clarke, Marsh
DT — Mebane, Rubin, Hill, Williams, McGill
LB — Wright, Wagner, Irvin, Pierre-Louis, Coyle, Pinkins (Morgan injured)
CB — Sherman, Williams, Blackmon, Simon, Smith, Burley
S — Thomas, Chancellor (eventually), Bailey, Shead
ST — Ryan, Hauschka, Gresham