After four months of intense evaluation, Seattle coach Pete Carroll has made his decision.
Rookie Russell Wilson will be the starting quarterback when the Seahawks open the season Sept. 9 at Arizona. Wilson also will start the Seahawks’ final exhibition game Thursday against Oakland.
“He’s earned this job,” Carroll said. “It was a legitimate competition like we said from the beginning.”
“He is so prepared he just does not seem like a first-year player. He seems like he’s been around.”
The quarterback decision made incumbent Tarvaris Jackson available, and the gears are turning on a trade that will send him to the Buffalo Bills.
One player Wilson won’t throw to is veteran wide receiver Terrell Owens, who was cut.
Wilson becomes the fifth rookie quarterback who will open this NFL season as a starter, joining Andrew Luck in Indianapolis, Washington’s Robert Griffin III, Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden and Miami’s Ryan Tannehill
Unlike those other four quarterbacks, Wilson was not drafted in the first round. The 5-foot-11 signal caller becomes the first third-round pick to start a season opener as a rookie quarterback since Joe Ferguson for Buffalo in 1973.
Carroll made the announcement in a conference call with reporters Sunday evening, bringing closure to a whirlwind day that included the Seahawks making cuts in attempt to get down to 75 players by today’s 1 p.m. (PDT) deadline.
Although Carroll said Wilson earned the job, he acknowledged that Matt Flynn’s elbow injury, along with the uncertainty of the free agent signee’s availability for this week, factored into his decision.
Carroll said that Flynn’s injury is not a tendon injury, but an inflammation of muscle. Carroll said Flynn did not throw Sunday, but that the team will try to get him going in practice today in an attempt to get him ready for Thursday’s game at Oakland.
“He’s disappointed,” Carroll said. “Matt came here to be a starter. He took it exactly the way I would think a great competitor would. He still wants it. And that’s going to help us.
Carroll confirmed the trade of Jackson to Buffalo for an undisclosed pick is in the works. The Bills reportedly are negotiating to restructure the final year of Jackson’s contract.
“He deserves a chance to be playing,” Carroll said. “And so Buffalo came after him. I hope it’s a good thing for him. He did a great job for us and he proved everything you’d ever want to see out of a competitor.”
In Buffalo, Jackson is expected to compete for the backup job behind Ryan Fitzpatrick. Vince Young and Tyler Thigpen also are part of that competition.
The Seahawks cut 12 players in an effort to get down to 75 players. The biggest name of that group was Owens.
Owens, 38, signed with the Seahawks after an impressive workout Aug. 6. Owens was in great shape, and at times flashed the big-play potential in practice that he showed throughout his career.
However, that effort did not carry over to games.
Owens was targeted three times against Kansas City on Friday, and finished with two catches for 41 yards. That performance came after being targeted five times Aug. 18 against Denver, but finishing without a catch, including a drop on what would have been a 46-yard touchdown pass from Flynn.
Owens’ release means Seattle will continue to give younger players such as Ricardo Lockette and Kris Durham chances to make the roster.
Tight end Cameron Morrah and cornerback Roy Lewis were among surprises in the list of players cut Sunday. Both were regular contributors in 2011. However, both were dealing with injuries.
Lewis had a knee injury that required surgery, leaving his availability for the season opener in question. And Morrah had a chronic toe injury that had forced him to miss several practices during training camp.
Offensive linemen Alex Barron and Deuce Lutui also were surprising cuts. Barron, a 2005 first-round draft pick, looked good at times during camp, and likely will get snapped up by a tackle-needy team such as the New York Jets.
Lutui was expected to compete for a job at right guard but became expendable with the development of seventh round draft choice J.R. Sweezy.
Along with Morrah and Lewis, other players who were waived/injured included former seventh-round draft choices linebacker Jameson Konz (shoulder) and defensive lineman Pep Levingston (knee).
Others released included receiver Phil Bates, tackle Edawn Coughman, cornerback Donny Lisowski, cornerback Ron Parker and running back Tyrell Sutton.
Seattle has 77 players on the roster, so two more players must go by this afternoon to get down to the required limit.Eric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/