Undrafted rookies Tyvis Powell, Tanner McEvoy, George Fant and – the biggest surprise – DeAndre Elliott -- have gone from curiosities to Seahawks.
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, have arrived in trades.
And Seattle kept nine blockers on their remade (again) offensive line.
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Those are the highlights of the roster moves Seattle made Saturday to get its roster from 75 to 53 for the start of the regular season.
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 one as often as anyone in the NFL without a fullback.
Why? It’s a money move. The six-year veteran Tukuafu would have had all of his $760,000 veteran-minium salary guaranteed had he been on the active roster in the first week of the regular season. The Seahawks could feel they can get by the opener Sept. 11 against Miami without a true fullback – perhaps using a tight end such as Brandon Williams, the fourth one to make Saturday’s roster. They they could bring back Tukuafu after Week 1 and could basically pay him week to week, as his entire salary would not then 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 that the defensive tackle "tweaked" his hamstring.
Rookie second-round pick Jarran Reed could start the opener, if his toe injury that has 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.
For now, Trevone Boykin remains the second of two quarterbacks on the roster. The undrafted rookie from Texas Christian was scattered throughout the preseason, and you can bet 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 26 players that entered the NFL as undrafted free agents, the league’s most.
I know I’m not supposed to root for individuals, but here’s why Powell making the team out of Ohio State makes me smile.
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 and a national video crew chronicling him getting drafted watched 253 players selected over seven rounds – none of them named Tyvis Powell.
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 ½-inch receiver was a running back, quarterback and wide receiver at Wisconsin. This spring he was a safety in Seahawks minciamps. 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.
Fant was a college basketball player at Western Kentucky. He makes it 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.
The Seahawks 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 last 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 has turned out to be a trusted backup to Kam Chancellor as well as 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, who 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 six years of general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll running the franchise. Expect more before the Sept. 11 opener against Miami.