So why did the Seahawks let Kasen Williams go?
Pete Carroll gave his explanation Monday, two days after his team waived their most outstanding and -- judging by the anger of fans and even Richard Sherman -- their most popular performer during four preseason games.
“Certainly (a tough decision). Certainly,” Carroll said following a Labor Day practice for Sunday’s opener at Green Bay. “He is a great kid. We love him, and you can tell our players love him.”
That was the coach’s indirect reference to star cornerback Sherman blasting his Seahawks’ decision to waive Williams on social media Saturday, writing “There is no explanation for this!”
Carroll continued with one on Monday.
The coach said he was talking with the former University of Washington wide receiver who had spent his first two NFL seasons primarily on Seattle’s practice squad right up to the time Sunday the Cleveland Browns claimed him.
The Seahawks initially reported they had waived-injured Williams, a designation that is a buyer-beware red flag to other teams that may be considering claiming him. They initially reported the same about cornerback Pierre Desir, a milder surprise cut on Saturday. About 45 minutes later -- and after Desir’s agent Greg Linton let all know “Pierre is 100% healthy” -- the Seahawks sent a notice correcting they had simply waived Williams and Desir, with no injuries, after all.
The Browns had the first claiming position in the league this past weekend, when more than 1,100 players became available through the NFL’s cut-down deadline for teams to get from 90 players to 53. So Williams didn’t get past a single team before getting claimed, almost immediately ending any hope Carroll and the Seahawks had of Williams clearing waivers and Seattle keeping on the practice squad again.
The Browns seemed thrilled to get him.
"It’s excruciating, based on the time we spent together and the guys we are dealing with,” Carroll said. “You know, we have a…there’s a lot of stuff that we take into consideration. A lot more than any one aspect of the process. Kasen had great games, did beautiful stuff, did well. But other guys did really well, too. And the rest of the process adds to it. We have to make the decisions and see how it all fits. And sometimes you lose guys. You have those things.
"Kasen, I was talking to him all the way up until he got claimed, you know, and hoped that we could get him back. Maybe we will some day."
Carroll said it came down to "the mixture of guys that we needed to put together in a position group." He didn’t specify that group was wide receiver. Seattle kept just five on its initial 53-man roster for the regular season, including rookie third-round pick Amara Darboh. Darboh’s only three catches of the preseason game in last week’s finale at Oakland.
I asked the coach if special teams was a particular factor for Williams. Williams made some tackles on the kickoff team and was often the first one down to cover punts this preseason as an up back protecting punter Jon Ryan. He told me last month he knew plays in the kicking game were key for his roster chances this summer.
At Skyline High School as a national high school player of the year and at UW, he was such a standout receiver he rarely contributed on special teams.
"It always is. It’s always a big factor in these decisions,” Carroll said of special teams and Williams. “He had done well. He had done better than he had in the past."