The Seahawks were last-minute shoppers the past two years.
They were elbows deep, searching through other teams’ leftovers in the days after NFL rosters were reduced to 53 players. Seattle added six players in the week before the season in 2010, and three last year.
This season, the subtraction of tight end Kellen Winslow was the only real surprise as Evan Moore was added to take his place. The fact that things are so much more settled this year speaks to the quality of the roster that coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider believe they’ve assembled over the past two and a half years.
There’s not nearly as much turnover on this year’s team. Of the 53 players currently on Seattle’s roster, 15 were acquired over the offseason. Compare that to last season, when 24 of Seattle’s 53 players were in their first year with the team. The year before that, the number was 27, more than half the team.
For at least one player, entering his second year in Seattle, that familiarity is a good thing.
“Having spent more time in the system for a lot of guys has helped immensely,” said tight end Zach Miller. “That’s huge for our offense. We’re more comfortable with the run game, with the pass game, so I think it’s showing out there.”
Miller was one of four starters the Seahawks signed as unrestricted free agents last year when the lockout made the transition even more difficult because it eliminated the team’s offseason training.
This season, the team has only two projected starters who were not on the roster last year: quarterback Russell Wilson and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Both are rookies.
The Seahawks have entered a new stage of Carroll’s coaching tenure. They believe they have assembled the core of a championship-caliber team.
It’s why they re-signed Red Bryant and Marshawn Lynch this offseason, focusing more on retention than addition.
Seattle didn’t spend that much time shopping for veterans this offseason. They found a few, like Jason Jones, the defensive tackle from the Tennessee Titans who will be a big part of the nickel defense.
They also brought in receiver Braylon Edwards.
Of the 15 newcomers, only six are veterans who played elsewhere in the NFL last year.
One of those was going to be Winslow, a tight end who had caught more passes than all but two tight ends in the NFL over the past five years.
Instead, Seattle plans to add Moore, a 6-foot-6 tight end who played two seasons of basketball at Stanford. Moore signed with Green Bay as an undrafted rookie in 2008 when Schneider was with the Packers.
Moore has 62 catches in his career while Winslow has caught more than 62 passes in five of the past six seasons. But this wasn’t just about talent. There was a financial component, as Winslow’s contract called for him to make $3.3 million this season, a number the Seahawks sought to reduce. When he declined, Seattle saw Moore as a younger, cheaper alternative, whose potential would help offset the loss of Winslow.
An NFL team’s roster is never set. Winslow’s sudden release is evidence, but the fact that Seattle didn’t do much else spoke to the confidence the Seahawks’ coaches and front office have in the roster they’ve assembled.