Pete Carroll and John Schneider continue to leave no stone unturned and no cushions unchecked as they look for ways to nickel and dime the Seattle roster into a rock-solid group they could cash into a playoff team.
A day after cutting T.J. Houshmandzadeh and 21 other guys to get down to the 53-man limit, they kept the transaction wheel spinning with a dozen other moves while reportedly still trying to find a way to get Vincent Jackson to Seattle and hurriedly moving to replace suddenly retired line coach Alex Gibbs.
As expected after Saturday’s cuts, no player still on the 53-man was necessarily safe from the Turk, as Jordan Babineaux, Julius Jones, Kevin Vickerson, Owen Schmitt, Mansfield Wrotto, Kevin Ellison and Steve Vallos found out.
The Seahawks confirmed they have released Wrotto, Ellison and Vallos, while trading for veteran offensive lineman Stacy Andrews and claiming off waivers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith (Green Bay) and defensive back Nate Ness (Miami).
Babineaux, Jones, Vickerson and Schmitt all were reportedly released, with the Hawks reportedly signing defensive tackle Junior Saivii and running back Michael Robinson.
That would leave two roster spots open, with the Seahawks expected to bring in a third quarterback to replace the previously released J.P. Losman.
The other spot could be used for Jackson if the Seahawks could come up with a deal for him. They reportedly were talking Saturday to the agents for Jackson, the holdout receiver of the San Diego Chargers. But Jackson allegedly wants upwards of $10 million per year, and the Seahawks are thankfully not willing to dish out that kind of cash (although they’re perfectly content to pay a receiver $7 million to not play for them).
Cutting Babineaux, Jones and Vickerson saved the Seahawks close to $7 million, although money was surely not the deciding factor in their departures.
Babs and Jones had been expected to be traded or released, and the Seahawks obviously did not think the injury-prone Vickerson would hold up. They also apparently did not like Quinn Pitcock enough to keep him over Vickerson, preferring instead the equally unaccomplished Saivii. Now you know why Craig Terrill was never in danger of losing his spot.
The release of Wrotto was not entirely surprising, especially in the wake of the Andrews acquisition. Despite playing almost every snap at left tackle in the preseason, Wrotto did not seem to progress. The Seahawks helped him a lot against Minnesota and he also proved to be pretty pedestrian as a run blocker.
The major question now, though, is: Who will start at left tackle against the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday?
Unless Russell Okung has made a miraculous recovery from a high ankle sprain, the Hawks need to decide who’s going to fill in for him. It could very well be Chester Pitts, who started his NFL career in Houston playing left tackle. Pitts has made his way back to the practice field after undergoing offseason microfracture surgery, and the Hawks might simply be hoping he can step in on the left side.
The mammoth Andrews (6-7, 340) is built for right tackle and will probably provide depth behind the injury-prone Sean Locklear or perhaps push Locklear. But, in his two years as a starter at right tackle for Cincinnati, he was pretty shaky. According to the Washington Post’s lineman statistics, Andrews had seven false starts in 2007 and gave up 9.5 sacks in 2008.
That didn’t dissuade Philadelphia from giving him a six-year, $39 million contract last year and converting him to guard. But he didn’t work out there and preferred playing tackle anyway.
As Eagles general manager Howie Roseman told reporters, “I think it’s a great opportunity for Stacy to go and play a position that he’s probably more comfortable with, and that’s right tackle.”
The Eagles already paid him a $4.1 million roster bonus this year, so the Hawks will owe him only $1.15 million. His salary jumps to $4.75 million next year and higher after that. But the Hawks, who reportedly gave up only a seventh-rounder in 2011, could release him at any point with nothing owed. So they get a cheap one-year look.
With line guru Alex Gibbs suddenly retiring on the eve of the season, it will be up to newly hired Pat Ruel, who was Carroll’s line coach at USC, and assistant line coach Art Valero to decide what the line will look like in the opener.
This does not bode well for keeping Matt Hasselbeck healthy for the first time in three years – especially with Seattle opening against a very tough San Francisco defense that broke Hasselbeck's ribs last season.
The Hawks also kept only two quarterbacks, but that should be a temporary thing as they check into replacing J.P. Losman with Patrick Ramsey or Matt Leinart or someone else. With the extra roster spot open, they might simply be waiting for Leinart to clear waivers and become a free agent.
Dietrich-Smith and Ness, both picked up on waivers, basically replace Vallos and Ellison, who were surprise keepers Saturday.
Dietrich-Smith played tackle at Idaho State and was signed as an undrafted free agent by Schneider’s Packers last year. Having played tackle, he obviously has decent feet for a guard and Schneider thinks he could fit in Seattle’s zone scheme.
Ness, who got a quick look by Jim Mora’s Seahawks last September, can play both safety and corner. He seemingly had a good preseason in Miami but didn’t make the team even though the Dolphins had to put Will Allen on IR.
Both of these guys could simply be stopping for a cup of Seattle’s Best as the Seahawks continue to try to become better.
Here’s an analysis of the roster as it stands entering Labor Day:
Kept 2: Matt Hasselbeck, Charlie Whitehurst.
Cut: J.P. Losman.
Analysis: It’s not shocking that Losman was cut. The former first-round pick got little action in the preseason and wasn’t that impressive, and now the Hawks might be eyeing a couple of other former first-round picks in Ramsey and Leinart.
Kept 3: Justin Forsett, Leon Washington, Quinton Ganther.
Signed: Michael Robinson.
Cut: Julius Jones, Owen Schmitt, Louis Rankin.
Analysis: It was not surprising to see Jones and Schmitt cut. Jones is basically a less talented version of Forsett, who is tougher and has more wiggle, and Washington, who has more speed, so it’s hard to see why the Hawks need Jones. Ganther has more versatility (tailback, fullback and special teams). Robinson was cut by San Francisco, and former 49ers GM Scot McCloughan surely had a hand in bringing him to Seattle. Robinson was known for his special-teams work in San Francisco and that’s what he figures to do for Seattle.
Kept 5: Deion Branch, Mike Williams, Golden Tate, Deon Butler, Ben Obomanu.
Cut: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Ruvell Martin, Brandon Jones.
Analysis: It’s simply stunning that the Hawks cut Houshmandzadeh, getting nothing in return and owing him $7 million anyway. Fortunately, it looks like the Hawks will not end up with Vincent Jackson. In the meantime, they will count on Branch (who unbelievably is still on the team) to stay healthy, Williams to keep playing like he did in the preseason, and Tate, Butler and Obomanu to fill in behind Branch and Williams.
Kept 4: John Carlson, Chris Baker, Cameron Morrah, Anthony McCoy.
Cut: Nick Tow-Arnett.
Analysis: The Seahawks kept four tight ends, but McCoy is obviously still on the bubble. The Hawks reportedly tried to grab another former Packer, tight end Spencer Havner, but they were aced out on waivers by Detroit again.
Kept 8: Russell Okung, Chris Spencer, Max Unger, Sean Locklear, Chester Pitts, Mike Gibson, Ben Hamilton, Tyler Polumbus.
Traded for: Stacy Andrews.
Claimed: Evan Dietrich-Smith.
Put on IR: Ray Willis.
Cut: Mansfield Wrotto, Steve Vallos, Joe Toledo, Jacob Phillips, Mitch Erickson, Jeff Byers.
Analysis: With Willis going on IR, the Hawks traded for Andrews. He could step in at right tackle if the Hawks end up using Locklear at left tackle temporarily. Of course, the best scenario while Okung is out would be for Pitts to be healthy enough to play the left side. No matter how you slice it, the Hawks’ line is not at all fine just a week before the season. However, once Okung and Pitts are fully healthy, this unit should improve quickly.
Kept 3: Brandon Mebane, Colin Cole, Craig Terrill.
Signed: Junior Siavii.
Cut: Kevin Vickerson, Quinn Pitcock, Amon Gordon.
Analysis: Some thought Terrill was on the bubble, but the underrated lineman played well this preseason and is really the third guy in rotation. The release of Vickerson was a mild surprise because he was a huge tackle who really plugged the middle of the line. The Hawks obviously were not comfortable that he could stay healthy. Pitcock was one of the feel-good stories of camp, but the Hawks decided to bring in Siavii instead. Of course, Siavii is not a bastion of health himself, having missed three years with a knee injury before returning with Dallas last year. There might be more moves made here this week or beyond.
Kept 5: Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, E.J. Wilson, Dexter Davis, Kentwan Balmer.
Cut: Nick Reed, Rob Rose, James Wyche.
Analysis: The injured Reed was a surprise cut, but we have a feeling he could be brought back once he’s healthy. Davis stuck because (a) he is Clemons’ backup and (b) he is flexible enough to play outside linebacker. The Hawks didn’t get to see much of Balmer, who got injured in the first game he played, but they obviously want to see more of him. His tryout will extend into the season.
Kept 5: Lofa Tatupu, David Hawthorne, Aaron Curry, Will Herring, Matt McCoy.
Suspended: Leroy Hill.
Cut: Tyjuan Hagler, Joe Pawelek.
Analysis: This is a banged-up bunch that has been prone to injuries and surely won’t stay healthy, so the Hawks should have kept Hagler. But they obviously are comfortable with Dexter Davis being the sixth guy. Hill is suspended for the first game, and the team will have to decide what to do after Week 1. That decision will be complicated if Hill is still not recuperated from his sprained knee.
Kept 5: Marcus Trufant, Kelly Jennings, Walter Thurmond, Roy Lewis, Kennard Cox.
Cut: Cord Parks, Josh Pinkard, Marcus Brown.
Analysis: Trading Josh Wilson opened the door for Cox, although odds are he doesn’t stick beyond Week 1. The team does not need five corners. Jennings will open the season as the starter opposite Trufant, although Thurmond should push him as the season progresses. Lewis provides nice depth. Parks played well on special teams, but so did Cox, who showed a bit more as a corner.
Kept 3: Earl Thomas, Lawyer Milloy, Kam Chancellor.
Claimed: Nate Ness.
Cut: Jordan Babineaux, Jamar Adams, Kevin Ellison.
Analysis: Considering how little Ellison played in the preseason, it was a little surprising he made the initial cut – and not so stunning that he was let go a day later. Babineaux is not a great secondary player, but he is versatile, and if Thomas or Milloy get injured, the Hawks might regret letting the veteran Babs go. Chancellor is a fifth-round thumper the Hawks probably didn’t think they could slide through to the practice squad. Ness may or may not stick.
Kept 3: Olindo Mare, Jon Ryan, Clint Gresham.
Analysis: Mare and Ryan were the strength of the team last season. It won’t be surprising if the Hawks end up cycling through long snappers again. Gresham has been wobbly this preseason, something that has been concealed a bit by Ryan’s sure hands on holds.