Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks set initial 53-man roster, trade for a safety

The Seahawks today traded a later-round draft choice in 2016 to Kansas City for Kelcie McCray, shown here in Chiefs’ training camp last month in St. Joseph, Mo. McCray was a backup free safety and special-teams ace with Kansas City.
The Seahawks today traded a later-round draft choice in 2016 to Kansas City for Kelcie McCray, shown here in Chiefs’ training camp last month in St. Joseph, Mo. McCray was a backup free safety and special-teams ace with Kansas City. AP

The Seahawks’ initial 53-man roster for the 2015 regular season is built from the trenches out.

Seattle on Saturday kept nine offensive linemen including line coach Tom Cable’s latest favorite project he’s converted from being a defensive lineman at the University of Buffalo. Rookie Kristjan Sokoli becomes one of the first, if not first, Albanian-born player on an NFL regular-season roster.

The Seahawks kept six wide receivers, one fewer than last season. That decision and the versatility of B.J. Daniels also being able to play quarterback and special teams is why he is on the team and former University of Washington wide receivers Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams got waived today. Both former Huskies could get on Seattle’s practice squad, but only if no other team claims either one before the league’s waiver deadline of noon Sunday.

Ricardo Lockette being better and more experienced than both Smith and Williams on special teams is why he stays and Smith and Williams do not.

A likely waiver claim could be part of the reason the Seahawks kept undrafted rookie Thomas Rawls on the 53-man roster. Rawls rushed for 87 yards Thursday in the exhibition finale against Oakland and likely would have had a team claim him on waivers.

Rawls may not last on this initial regular-season roster, though. Friday night a league source told me the Seahawks were likely to finalize a one-year contract for free-agent running back Fred Jackson by the end of this weekend. When they do, the team will need to make another roster move.

Christine Michael drives coaches -- and many fans -- batty with his fumbling, holding the ball in the wrong arm, missed assignments, pouting, etc. Yet the second-round pick in 2013 is still on the team because of his undeniable physical skills and upside.

The Seahawks traded a reported fifth-round draft choice next year to Kansas City to acquire Kelcie McCray. Herbie Teope, Chiefs beat writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal and plus an ex-Army pal of mine, tells me McCray primarily played free safety last season in K.C. and is regarded as a special-teams ace. So the trade may or may not be another sign of the Seahawks moving on from still-holding-out strong safety Kam Chancellor.

Dion Bailey made the roster and for now the 2014 undrafted free agent from USC who spent last season injured and then on the practice squad is the starting strong safety for the Sept. 13 opener at St. Louis.

Terminating the veteran contract of Will Blackmon means rookie draft choice Tye Smith from Towson has a chance to be the fifth, “nickel” defensive back in the first game against the Rams -- unless McCray emerges upon his arrival for practice Monday.

Beyond Lockette, special teams is also why DeShawn Shead (another potential fill-in for Chancellor at strong safety) and Will Tukuafu made this initial 53-man roster. Tukuafu is a surprise to some as a second fullback behind healthy again Derrick Coleman. But the fact Tukuafu also played on Seattle’s defensive line last season and is likely to be all over special-teams units again in 2015 is why he stuck. At least for now until the team needs to find room for Jackson, that is.

As reported Friday night Robert Turbin is not on the roster because of his high-ankle sprain. Turbin went on season-ending injured reserve. So did cornerback Mohammed Seisay, who got hurt in the preseason finale Thursday.

And as I considered in stories Thursday and Friday, defensive tackle Jesse Williams went on the reserve/non-football-injury list to end his Seahawks season. Doctors continue to search his body with regular scans to see if the cancer found in his kidney and lymph nodes has spread. He could still reach an injury settlement and play for someone else after a negotiated time, but for now he has more important issues to settle.

The complete list of Seahawks’ moves today:

And here is the current 53-man roster, subject to changes that will be coming soon:

QB: Russell Wilson, Tarvaris Jackson

RB: Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael, Derrick Coleman, Will Tukuafu, Thomas Rawls

TE: Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson, Cooper Helfet

WR: Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Tyler Lockett, Ricardo Lockette, Chris Matthews, B.J. Daniels

OL: Russell Okung, Justin Britt, Drew Nowak, J.R. Sweezy, Garry Gilliam, Alvin Bailey, Kristjan Sokoli, Patrick Lewis, Mark Glowinski

DL: Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Jordan Hill, Brandon Mebane, Cassius Marsh, Ahtyba Rubin, Frank Clark, David King, Demarcus Dobbs

LB: Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, Bruce Irvin, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Brock Coyle, Mike Morgan

CB: Richard Sherman, Cary Williams, Marcus Burley, Tye Smith, Tharold Simon

S: Earl Thomas, Dion Bailey, Kelcie McCray, Steven Terrell, DeShawn Shead

Specialists: K Steven Hauschka, P Jon Ryan, LS Clint Gresham

Roster exempt:

Physically-unable-to-perform: DB Jeremy Lane, WR Paul Richardson

Reserve/non-football-injury: DT Jesse Williams

Reserve/did-not-report: SS Kam Chancellor