Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks cut Tukuafu, keep rookies Powell, Fant, McEvoy, Elliott on 53-man

AP

The team with the most undrafted players in the NFL added a half-dozen more.

Former starters Jordan Hill at defensive tackle, Will Tukuafu at fullback and Marcus Burley at defensive back are no longer Seahawks.

Two backup safeties and special-teams players, L.J. McCray and Dewey McDonald, arrived in trades.

And Seattle kept nine blockers on their remade (again) offensive line.

Those are the highlights of the roster moves Seattle made on Saturday to get its roster from 75 players to 53 for the start of the regular season.

Undrafted rookies Tyvis Powell, Tanner McEvoy, George Fant and DeAndre Elliott have gone from curiosities to Seahawks. Elliott was the biggest surprise keep.

The biggest surprise cut is Tukuafu.

The Seahawks re-signed their thumping blocking back last month, and the 290-pound truck picked up where he’d left off the last two Seattle seasons, running over guys. Yet he’s now gone, leaving the team that uses a fullback as often as anyone in the NFL without one.

Why? It’s a money move. The six-year veteran Tukuafu would have had all of his $760,000 veteran-minimum salary guaranteed had he been on the active roster in the first week of the regular season. The Seahawks might feel they can get by the opener Sept. 11 against Miami without a true fullback — perhaps using Brandon Williams, the fourth tight end to make Saturday’s roster. They could bring back Tukuafu after Week 1 and could then basically pay him week to week, as his entire salary would not be guaranteed.

The Seahawks gave up on Hill — “waived-injured” officially — after years of injuries. Their third-round pick from 2013 was the starting defensive tackle at the beginning of training camp for departed Brandon Mebane. But Hill missed much of August with a groin strain. Then coach Pete Carroll sounded exasperated following Thursday night’s preseason finale at Oakland when the defensive tackle “tweaked” his hamstring.

Rookie second-round pick Jarran Reed could start the opener, if his toe injury that had sidelined him the last week heals as the Seahawks think it might. If not, Tony McDaniel will likely start at defensive tackle. The starter on the Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl-champion team has been a revelation since he was kayaking on the Wenatchee River in Leavenworth last month and his agent called the Seahawks asking for a tryout.

Powell grew up without a father in suburban Cleveland. He wanted to give up football in high school. He basically nagged Ohio State into a scholarship, to which he committed the day after the coach that offered it, Jim Tressel, resigned from leading the Buckeyes. Then in May, Powell had a national video crew chronicling him going undrafted.

Now here he is in Seattle’s renowned defensive secondary as a backup safety and special-teams player. He stood out in the preseason for play at both cornerback and safety plus constant hustle and grit on special teams.

He is the latest example that with Carroll’s Seahawks, it’s often about the more you can do — and, at the bottom of the roster, how inexpensive and thus motivated you will be doing it.

McEvoy is another such example. The 6-foot-5 1/2-inch receiver was a running back, quarterback and wide receiver at Wisconsin. This spring he was a safety in Seahawks minicamps. Then he moved to wide receiver at the start of camp, and to tight end two weeks ago when rookie third-round pick Nick Vannett got a high-ankle sprain.

With star Jimmy Graham still recovering from a torn patellar tendon in his knee and not a sure thing to play in the opener or first couple games, McEvoy and Williams could be the backups to Luke Willson at tight end early.

The Seahawks cut two of their 10 draft picks from May: seventh-rounders Kenny Lawler, a wide receiver, and running back Zac Brooks.

For now, Trevone Boykin remains the second of two quarterbacks on the roster. The undrafted rookie from Texas Christian had scattered performances throughout the preseason, so it’s likely the Seahawks are still shopping for potential veteran help at that position behind Russell Wilson.

Boykin and long snapper Nolan Frese are the other of the six undrafted rookies on the roster. Last season Seattle had a league-high 26 players that entered the NFL as undrafted free agents.

Fant was a college basketball player at Western Kentucky. He made the roster over 2015 draft choice Terry Poole as a backup to starting tackles Bradley Sowell and Garry Gilliam plus veteran J’Marcus Webb. Poole improved from last year when he was on Seattle’s practice squad, but the Seahawks opted for the 6-foot-5 Fant’s athleticism and raw potential. And we do mean raw. He is the project line coach Tom Cable loves — and with which he’s had mixed success.

The Seahawks also made two deals Saturday that appear to bolster special-teams units.

Seattle traded a conditional seventh-round draft choice in 2018 to NFC West-rival San Francisco to add safety L.J. McCray. McCray is entering his third NFL season. He’s 6 feet and 210 pounds, and has played in 22 games for the 49ers the past two years. He had 365 snaps on special teams in those two seasons for the Niners.

In that way, the deal is like Seattle’s on 2015 cut day for another McCray safety, Kelcie — who’s turned out to be a trusted backup to Kam Chancellor as well as a force on the Seahawks’ kick teams.

The Seahawks also traded a conditional seventh-round pick in 2017 to Oakland to acquire 6-foot, 220-pound safety Dewey McDonald. He played in a dozen games in 2014 for Indianapolis then one game each last season for the Colts, Patriots and Raiders.

As always, this is not the “final” roster for the regular season, just the final cuts of the preseason.

The Seahawks have made more than 1,400 transactions in the first six years of Carroll and general manager John Schneider running the franchise.

Expect more before and through next week’s opener.

Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle

Seahawks’ 53-man roster

Expected Week 1 starters in bold. Note: Drafted rookies designated by (r), undrafted rookies by (ur).

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Russell Wilson, Trevone Boykin (ur)

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael, C.J. Prosise (r), Alex Collins (r)

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Paul Richardson, Tanner McEvoy (ur)

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Nick Vannett (r), Brandon Williams

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Bradley Sowell, Mark Glowinski, Justin Britt, Germain Ifedi (r), Garry Gilliam, J’Marcus Webb, George Fant (ur), Joey Hunt (r), Rees Odhiambo (r)

DEFENSIVE ENDS (4)

Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh

DEFENSIVE TACKLES (5)

Ahtyba Rubin, Tony McDaniel, Jarran Reed (r), Justin Hamilton, Quinton Jefferson (r)

LINEBACKERS (5)

Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Mike Morgan, Brock Coyle, Kevin Pierre-Louis

CORNERBACKS (6)

Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, DeShawn Shead, Tharold Simon, DeAndre Elliott (ur), Tyvis Powell (ur)

SAFETIES (6)

Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Kelcie McCray, L.J. McCray, Dewey McDonald, Steven Terrell

SPECIALISTS (3)

Steven Hauschka, Jon Ryan, Nolan Frese (ur)

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