We’ll continue the Countdown with a little discussion of the potential makeup of the final 53-man roster. Not that the any roster is ever really final, of course. Teams set a roster before the first week of the season and then continue to tweak it all season long.
Here, for instance, is what was the first official 53-man roster for the Seahawks last season after the final pre-season cutdown from 75.
Four players were gone from the team by the end of the first month — Mike Person, Stephen Williams, Allen Bradford and John Lotulelei.
And in a move that’s easy to forget now, the team kept D’Anthony Smith as a defensive tackle and cut Clinton McDonald, which was in part a salary-related move. McDonald, though, was quickly brought back (though only after getting a tryout with the Patriots, who opted not to sign him) and became a key part of the defensive line rotation, while Smith was released after week three and then signed back to the practice squad, where he remained the rest of the season.
I mention that as a reminder that while there will be lots of discussion everywhere about who makes the final roster and who doesn’t, the final 53 is never really final.
In fact, I thought it might be interesting to look at how Seattle’s roster numbers played out last season, both for the first roster (linked above) and then for the Super Bowl (here).
I’ll list the position, and then the number of players on the initial 53 and the Super Bowl 53, with a quick comment:
QUARTERBACK: 2, 2. Comment: Russell Wilson and Tarvaris Jackson were on the roster at the start and finish. B.J. Daniels was briefly on the 53 but spent most of his time on the practice squad. Seattle, though, figures to either have to commit to a third QB all season this year or else cut one of Jackson or Terrelle Pryor.
RUNNING BACK: 5, 5. The only change during the season was Spencer Ware going on IR and the team re-signing Michael Robinson. The opening day five last year of Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Derrick Coleman and Ware could be the same this season., with the biggest question likely being if seventh-round pick Kiero Small can make a real run at a spot.
WIDE RECEIVER: 5, 6. Three remained the same all season — Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse. But there was some shuffling with the rest, with opening roster members Sidney Rice (above in a Bettina Hansen photo) getting hurt and going on IR and Williams getting cut after week four. For the Super Bowl, the team also had Percy Harvin, Bryan Walters and Ricardo Lockette on the 53. Whether the team keeps five or six figures to be one of the key questions of this season. Baldwin, Kearse, Harvin and Paul Richardson seem like locks (and maybe Kevin Norwood as well). If Rice is healthy, there could be a real logjam, especially if Lockette or Walters or someone else (Chris Matthews) also impresses.
TIGHT END: 2, 3. Zach Miller and Luke Willson were on the roster all season, and Davis was added early to pump the number up to three. Expect three again this season with more apparent depth in the ranks.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 10, 10. Seattle had nine or 10 OLs throughout last season, with some juggling early when they cut Person, who initially was sort of a third tight end, and basically replacing him with Kellen Davis, and then having to make some moves when injuries hit Russell Okung and Breno Giacomini (anyone remember the two games Jason Spitz was on the active roster as a backup center?) To keep nine or 10 will again be the question this season.
DEFENSIVE LINE: 10, 10. So here’s where definitions always get a little tricky — is O’Brien Schofield an end or a linebacker? The roster breakdown linked above included Schofield and Mike Morgan as DLs, so that gave Seattle 11 DLs on its initial 53 (for what it’s worth, Morgan ended up playing almost solely LB and Schofield is now being considered a DL). Take those two out, and Seattle had nine pure DLs on its roster to start the year and nine for the Super Bowl (basically, McDonald replacing Smith). There were a couple minor moves along the way — Michael Brooks called up for the Atlanta game, for instance, when Red Bryant was out, etc. That Seattle had such a stable corps of DLs last year, though, was a real key to things. Figure nine or 10 DLs again this year and hoping for the same kind of stability.
LINEBACKERS: 7, 6. If you include Morgan here, then Seattle had seven LBs to start the season, in part because it wanted to initially keep both Bradford and Lotulelei. It ended with six after the team released each of those two early, but then brought back Bruce Irvin from suspension after the fourth week. From there, the number remained constant at six through the Super Bowl. How many to keep this year could again be a dilemma depending on how some of the young players progress. But if Irvin isn’t healthy early, that could help resolve the logjam in the short term.
SAFETY: 4, 3. Essentially, the only change Seattle made at safety during the season came when Jeron Johnson was placed on IR and replaced by DeShawn Shead, though Shead was officially listed as a corner. Seattle will again almost certainly keep at least four safeties, but also could keep a player who can play both safety and CB if needed.
CORNERBACK: 5, 5. Seattle had five CBs on the roster all year, with the one significant change being the loss of Brandon Browner, replaced by Shead.
SPECIALISTS: 3, 3. The kicking trio of Steven Hauschka, Jon Ryan and snapper Clint Gresham never changed last season and is unlikely to change this season.