A couple of mild surprises followed the news that the Seahawks had released fullback Michael Robinson on Friday night, with veteran cornerback Antoine Winfield retiring and the Hawks cutting tight end Sean McGrath on Saturday.
Despite a bunch of injuries along the defensive front, they also cut linemen Jaye Howard, Clinton McDonald and Sealver Siliga. But they acquired lineman D’Anthony Smith from Jacksonville for a conditional draft choice — making general manager 4 for 4 in preseason trades since he and Pete Carroll arrived in 2010.
The Hawks also activated defensive end Chris Clemons from PUP, although that doesn’t necessarily mean he will play in the opener. He has not begun contact practice yet.
With Brandon Mebane, Jordan Hill, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril all ailing, the line is still a bit of a M*A*S*H unit, and the Hawks are surely not done tinkering with it. Smith, a third-round pick by the Jaguars in 2010, has been limited by injuries to eight games in three seasons and easily could be let go in the next few days.
With Clemons and Avril still rehabbing injuries and Bruce Irvin suspended for four games, Benson Mayowa made the team. He will remain in the rotation with Mike Morgan, O’Brien Schofield and Malcolm Smith as pass rushers. It’s also possible that if Clemons and Avril are good to go for the opener Mayowa might be let go.
Basically, the entire defensive line is very fluid at the moment.
The secondary is not, however. Winfield was expendable after the great preseason play of Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell. Teams reportedly were interested in the 36-year-old Winfield, but he decided to call it a career.
Carroll tweeted, “Wishing Antoine Winfield the best in his decision to retire. He’s a consummate pro and a great team player. We were lucky to have him!”
Carroll uncharacteristically kept just nine defensive backs — he usually goes with 10 or 11 but apparently decided against keeping Ron Parker or DeShawn Sheed.
He instead opted for seven linebackers, including veteran Heath Farwell, converted running back Allen Bradford and undrafted rookie John Lotulelei. If you count Mike Morgan and Avril, they have nine guys who can play linebacker.
While they went a little light on offense, 10 of the 24 players are linemen. That includes rookies Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie along with former practice-squad tackle Mike Person, who played a lot of blocking tight end in the preseason.
It’s still hard to envision the Hawks going with only Zach Miller and rookie Luke Willson at tight end. Miller missed almost the entire preseason with a foot problem.
After letting Robinson go, they kept five backs anyway, with both Derrick Coleman and rookie Spencer Ware making it.
The Hawks kept eight rookies overall: RB Chris Michael (second round), DT Jordan Hill (third), Willson (fifth), Ware (sixth), Bowie (seventh), Bailey (undrafted), Lotulelei (undrafted) and Mayowa (undrafted).
The top rookie not kept was fourth-round receiver Chris Harper. He figures to be a practice squad priority, along with seventh-round linemen Ryan Seymour and Jared Smith and seventh-round linebacker Ty Powell.
Fifth-rounders Jesse Williams (IR) and Tharold Simon (PUP) are out injured.
The cuts: WR Phil Bates, DT Michael Brooks, DT Dwayne Cherrington, WR Arceto Clark, TE Darren Fells, S Winston Guy, WR Chris Harper, TE Cooper Helfet, DL Jaye Howard, OG Rishaw Johnson, TE Sean McGrath, CB Ron Parker, LB Ty Powell, OG Ryan Seymour, S DeShawn Sheed, DT Sealver Siliga, C Jared Smith, WR Bryan Walters, DT Clinton McDonald, CB Antoine Winfield, FB Michael Robinson, QB Brady Quinn.
Made it: Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson
Cut: Brady Quinn
Made it: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Chris Michael, Spencer Ware, Derrick Coleman
Cut: Michael Robinson
Made it: Zach Miller, Luke Willson
Cut: Cooper Helfet, Darren Fells, Sean McGrath
Made it: Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Stephen Williams
Cut: Chris Harper, Bryan Walters, Phil Bates, Arceto Clark
PUP: Percy Harvin
Made it: LT Russell Okung, LG Paul McQuistan, C Max Unger, RG J.R. Sweezy, RT Breno Giacomini, LG James Carpenter, C/G Lemuel Jeanpierre, OL Alvin Bailey, OT Michael Bowie, OT Mike Person
Cuts: OG Rishaw Johnson, OG Ryan Seymour, C Jared Smith
Made it: Brandon Mebane, Jordan Hill, Tony McDaniel, D’Anthony Smith
Cut: Clinton McDonald, Sealver Siliga, Michael Brooks
IR: Jesse Williams
5-TECH DEFENSIVE END
Made it: Red Bryant, Michael Bennett
Cut: Jaye Howard
PUP: Greg Scruggs
Made it: Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Mike Morgan, Benson Mayowa
Made it: K.J. Wright, Bobby Wagner, O’Brien Schofield, Malcolm Smith, Allen Bradford, Heath Farwell, John Lotulelei
Cut: Ty Powell
Suspended: Bruce Irvin
Injured: Korey Toomer
Made it: Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, Byron Maxwell, Jeremy Lane
Cut: Antoine Winfield, Ron Parker
PUP: Tharold Simon
Made it: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Jeron Johnson, Chris Maragos
Cut: Winston Guy, DeShawn Shead
Made it: P Jon Ryan, LS Clint Gresham, K Steven Hauschka