The Seattle Seahawks have to trim their roster to 53 players by Sept. 2. Here’s a projection for what their squad will look like before Week 1:
QUARTERBACKS (2): Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin
Wilson has had a tremendous summer and looks primed for a big bounce-back season. It’s a tough call as to who will back him up after Austin Davis outperformed Boykin in the preseason. My sense is that Boykin still has the edge despite Davis being the much steadier player, but Seattle’s backup could end up being someone who’s currently on another team’s roster. Colin Kaepernick, who visited the Seahawks in May, is still available as well.
RUNNING BACKS (5): Thomas Rawls, Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise, Chris Carson, J.D. McKissic
It’s unclear as to whether Rawls or Lacy will get the bulk of the work, and that may very well change week by week. Prosise figures to handle third-down duties again while Carson, a rookie standout, will fight for whatever touches are left. McKissic’s ability to play receiver and return kicks is valuable with Tyler Lockett coming off an injury.
FULLBACK (1): Tre Madden
The Seahawks could do some roster maneuvering here. Marcel Reece played well as a late-season pickup in 2016 and has experience in Tom Cable’s running scheme. But as a vested veteran, his salary could become guaranteed if he’s on the roster Week 1. That would not be the case if Seattle brings him back after the first week. That’s what the team did last season with fullback Will Tukuafu.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5): Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Amara Darboh, Kasen Williams
The Seahawks are looking to trade receiver Jermaine Kearse, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini. That suggests that the team is planning on releasing him but is trying to see what it could get for him, if anything, in a trade. Lockett is the favorite to assume the starting spot opposite Baldwin, but if Lockett’s health is an issue, Richardson could see some time in that role. Kearse’s departure would make Darboh and Williams even safer bets to make the roster, and it would mean an increase in whatever minor roles they would have had with Kearse ahead of them on the depth chart.
TIGHT ENDS (3): Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett
Graham is feeling better now that he’s another year removed from his serious knee injury. That’s a good sign for a Seahawks offense that could use more production in the red zone, and for Graham as he enters a contract year. Willson is the No. 2, but Seattle will try to get Vannett more involved than he was as a rookie last season.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Rees Odhiambo, Luke Joeckel, Justin Britt, Mark Glowinski, Germain Ifedi, Ethan Pocic, Oday Aboushi, Jordan Roos, Matt Tobin
Odhiambo is the likely replacement at left tackle following George Fant’s season-ending knee injury, though Seattle’s trade for Tobin gives the team another option. Either way, the drop-off shouldn’t be significant considering Fant was still relatively new to the position. Glowinski and Aboushi are competing to start at right guard while the other three spots are pretty much set.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Cliff Avril, Jarran Reed, Ahtyba Rubin, Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Nazair Jones, Cassius Marsh, David Bass, Marcus Smith
Avril (11.5 sacks) and Clark (10 sacks) are coming off career seasons while Bennett remains one of the NFL’s most disruptive defensive linemen. Jones looks like he’ll contribute as a rookie, but the Seahawks may be on the lookout for help at defensive tackle with top pick Malik McDowell potentially unavailable all season.
LINEBACKERS (5): Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Terence Garvin, Michael Wilhoite, D.J. Alexander
Wagner and Wright are true three-down linebackers and form one of the league’s best LB tandems. Garvin has had a terrific summer and is battling Wilhoite to start on the strong side. Dewey McDonald isn’t listed here, but he could make the team because of his versatility.
CORNERBACKS (6): Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, Shaquill Griffin, Tramaine Brock, Neiko Thorpe, Pierre Desir
Sherman seems like he has hit the reset button after a tumultuous year. Lane and Griffin have been competing to start at right cornerback opposite him, but they should both have significant roles regardless of who wins that job. Last year’s starter at that spot, DeShawn Shead, probably will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list. The ankle injury that DeAndre Elliott suffered Thursday night opens the door for Desir, who was on the bubble.
SAFETIES (5): Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Bradley McDougald, Delano Hill, Tedric Thompson
Thomas again looks like his All-Pro self after suffereing a broken leg late last season. McDougald projects as the backup behind Thomas and Chancellor, but Seattle may find a way to get him on the field even in non-injury situations. Thompson is probably on the roster bubble — as the Seahawks have been open to moving on from fourth-round picks — but the guess here is he claims one of the final spots.
SPECIALISTS (3): Blair Walsh, Jon Ryan, Tyler Ott
Walsh has been nearly automatic after some accuracy issues in the offseason. And he has been the only kicker on the roster for a while, which indicates a level of trust from the team.