NFL Cuts: 5 Seattle Seahawks Who Didn't Deserve the Ax
Anybody who has ever felt the pressure of going in for a job interview should empathize with the NFL player who finds out he's been cut before the regular season.
Not only have these players been putting their health on the line for a job that often comes with little glamour—if you're fighting just for a roster spot, odds are you're not fighting for a starting spot—their big auditions take place on TV in stadiums full of thousands of fans. Assuming most adults have had at least one experience choking during a job interview that involved nothing more than sitting in a chair and talking to an audience of one, I'd imagine there would be a little more understanding out there.
But when it comes to a fan and his football team, empathy doesn't exist. Fans want their teams to win as many games as possible, and with W's at stake, there is no room for feeling sorry for anybody. Weak links lead to losses, and every preseason, each team has to cut loose about 30 weak links before the games start to count.
The Seattle Seahawks recently slashed its roster down to 53, and not every decision was easy—nor correct. Here are five ex-Seahawks who shouldn't have been cut.
Thomas Clayton, RB
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All due respect to Marshawn Lynch, but no running back on Seattle's roster—not even "Beast Mode"—is as strong as Clayton.
The 5'11", 220-pounder showcased that power, along with good speed and vision, while racking up 131 yards on 37 carries (3.5 YPG) in the preseason. Clayton's 25-yard cutback touchdown run against San Diego was the highlight of Seattle's exhibition opener, his 23-yard reception against Denver was the team's longest pass play of that game and he found the end zone again versus Oakland while leading the Seahawks in rushing.
Of course, Clayton saw most of his action against defenses stocked with backup players such as himself. And many NFL teams don't keep four tailbacks on the roster, so Clayton's release was really more a result of proven veterans Lynch, Justin Forsett and Leon Washington's presence than a reflection of his own ability.
But considering Lynch's physical style of running, Forsett and Washington's smaller-than-ideal size and Seattle's porous offensive line, the Seahawks are one of those teams that should consider carrying more depth at running back.
Clayton also has the size and strength to play backup fullback.
Kentwan Balmer, DT/DE
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If you only look at Balmer as a first-round draft pick bust, he's going to be a disappointment.
If you just look at him as a borderline starter who can play multiple positions along the defensive line, he's not that bad.
Balmer started 11 games for the injury-wracked Seahawks at defensive end last season, registering 43 tackles. He didn't have any sacks, however, and ultimately lost his job this year to second-year pro Dexter Davis—who left Arizona State ranked third in career sacks.
Where Balmer had value to the Seahawks was in his versatility. At 6'5" and 315 pounds, he could play tackle or end in a 4-3 alignment and had some experience with a team that will need it on the defensive side of the ball.
Mike Gibson, OG
Gibson is one of those guys you root for to make it: the practice-squad alum who turned himself into a legit NFL starter without the luxuries of ideal size and raw talent for the job.
But those intangibles that allowed Gibson (6'3", 298 lbs) to work his way into eight starts at right guard for the Seahawks last season weren't enough to keep him on the roster.
Plus, it's not like first-year offensive line coach Tom Cable would feel any loyalty to Gibson. He has his own style and his own vision of the players who can make it work.
Gibson deserved to stay on the roster, though, because on a Seattle O-line that needs all the leadership, experience and chemistry it can get, he was emerging as a respected presence in the locker room who could at least provide some semblance of stability. Gibson could also play both guard spots, as well as center.
Mark LeGree, FS
(ASU Athletics/Bill Sheffield)
If the preseason was any indication, Seattle's defense will need to make a lot of plays to keep the offense competitive. Having a ball-hawking safety on the roster who collected 22 career interceptions in college would line up with that area of need.
LeGree also fills a personnel need on the Seahawks' roster, as the team doesn't have another natural free safety to back up Earl Thomas.
As a rookie from a small college, LeGree had a big learning curve in front of him. His preseason numbers didn't stand out (4 tackles, 0 INTs), but the fifth-round draft pick at least deserved a chance to show what he could do with more coaching.
Colin Cole, DT
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Cole lost his job to injury,—namely, the ankle injury that would have landed him on the PUP list to begin the season had he been retained—and because he was due to make $4 million this season, there's a chance he could be re-signed at a lower price once he's healthy.
When he was on the field, Cole was a solid contributor for the Seahawks. He started in 26 of the 27 games in which he appeared, compiling 65 tackles and seven passes defended over two seasons. The addition of DT Alan Branch certainly put Cole's starting spot in danger, but there's nothing wrong with having quality backups.
And if Seattle really likes Cole and is waiting for his ankle to heal, they've now run the risk of another team signing him before they get the chance.