Who you don’t want to lose matters
Clearly competition is important — in camp and in the games. It’s the foundation of Pete Carroll’s setup. That doesn’t mean you give up on players after one summer, however, if they’re outperformed by other players in certain environments.
Greg Jennings is a good example here. He was fairly anonymous against the Broncos despite playing more snaps (57%) than Jazz Ferguson (51%) and John Ursua (48%). Jennings received two targets in the game and failed to make a reception. Ferguson caught all of his four targets and managed 57-yards and a touchdown. Ursua had two targets with one leading to a 23-yard reception.
Based on the evidence of that game it’s hard to make a case for Jennings over Ferguson and Ursua. It’s a big call to give up on a player after one summer though. They clearly liked Jennings. He looked exactly like a Seahawks receiver at West Virginia and was a predictable target during draft season.
If they cut him in a few weeks time — he’ll be gone. Another team will claim him. He will not make it to Seattle’s practise squad. Last time they cut a high pick after one camp, Chris Harper was picked up immediately by the 49ers in 2013.
If they cut Ferguson or Ursua — they too could be claimed by other teams. However, one was an UDFA with character concerns in college and the other a seventh rounder. Jennings will get claimed. There’s at least a question mark about Ferguson and Ursua.
Competing isn’t limited to the players on the field. It extends to the front office. You have to find ways to keep the guys you want. The Seahawks will gather intel on various players to make key decisions on who may or may not make it to the practise squad. They’ll protect the ones they don’t want to lose.
Not everything is going to be decided in the pre-season in terms of who makes it and who doesn’t.
The Seahawks tend to stash players
Kristjan Sokoli, Benson Mayowa, George Fant. We can all recall players Seattle has protected as a sort of ‘redshirt’ prospect.
Even when the roster was at its most competitive — there was often room for a stash.
It’s important to remember that when working out what might happen with the team this year.
Again the aspect of wanting to ‘protect’ certain players comes into play. Team building isn’t simply about the here and now. It’s about the future too.
Would it be a massive surprise if they kept, for example, seven receivers? It’s more than they have in the past but if Jazz Ferguson and John Ursua continue to play well and are deemed unlikely to make the practise squad — are you ready to risk losing one? If they don’t want to give up on Jennings or roll the dice on Ferguson or Ursua, then stashing them isn’t improbable.
You can make the same case for the defensive backs too. The starting cornerbacks are set and the safety position is coming along. It’s not improbable they’ll end up stashing Ugo Amadi while starting Kalen Reed at nickel and retaining Neiko Thorpe for his special teams value and Deshawn Shead for his versatility and experience.
A lot of roster projections are compiled to try and max out impact and value at each position. There does have to be some long term thinking too plus some appreciation of roles. There will be certain players the Seahawks have scouted and coached who they really like — they just haven’t quite had a pre-season impact so far. Or they’ll have a specific, less attractive role (eg special teams). There will be room for at least one stash on this roster for a player they want to give more time to develop.
It also helps when you’ve got players who can play various positions. Seattle has tight ends who can take snaps at full back, they have safety’s who operate in the nickel and they have a tackle/tight end hybrid. When you have multi-role individuals, it can help create room to keep certain players at other positions. The Seahawks do have that luxury.
I’ve read numerous suggestions about the futures of Jaron Brown, David Moore and Neiko Thorpe. Even if young players are performing in pre-season — you still need your veterans.
This is especially important at receiver. Chemistry with the quarterback, understanding of the offense and proven production matters. Brown and Moore have this and the Seahawks appear set to expand their roles this year. They are locks to make the roster and are under no serious threat from the younger group.
Thorpe is the special teams captain and is much loved by the coaches and players. This also matters. Pete Carroll is putting more emphasis than ever on improved special teams play this year. Thorpe is essentially a special teams dynamo first and foremost and the cornerback depth is a bonus. Outsiders may question the usefulness of that but it’s not a doubt in Carroll’s mind and it’s why Thorpe has been a mainstay for so long. I wouldn’t bet against that being the case again in 2019.
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