NFC West: rosters
ESPN.com Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: Green Bay Packers
All the pregame hype will center around the so-called Inaccurate Reception, the controversial Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate two years ago that won the game over the Packers at Seattle on a Monday night. Tate has moved on to Detroit, but the Seahawks now have too many weapons for the Packers to stop, no Hail Mary required. Prediction: Win
Week 2: at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers better hope they play a lot better than they did in the preseason game at Seattle, a 41-14 victory for the Seahawks on Aug. 15. San Diego will play better, but not good enough to beat a much better team. Prediction: Win
Week 3: Denver Broncos
The Broncos and their fans got a tiny bit of meaningless Super Bowl revenge in the preseason opener with a 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys. Repeating that outcome in Seattle is not an option. Prediction: Win
Week 5: at Washington Redskins
Traveling coast to coast to play on the road for a Monday night game is a tough task against any NFL opponent, and even tougher against quarterback Robert Griffin III. But the Seahawks catch a break in this one by coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare and be fresh for the journey. Prediction: Win
Week 6: Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave Seattle a little bulletin-board material last month when he said the Seahawks were to blame for the increase in penalty flags during the preseason. There won't be near enough flags against Seattle for the Cowboys to win this one. Prediction: Win
Week 7: at St. Louis Rams
Any division game in the NFC West is a rugged battle. The Rams have a defensive line that gave the Seahawks problems a year ago. But they aren't strong enough overall to beat Seattle, even at home in their out-of-date dome. Prediction: Win
Week 8: at Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks were fortunate to win the season opener at Charlotte a year ago. That Panthers team was better than this one, but back-to-back road games against very physical defensive teams will end the Seattle winning streak. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Oakland Raiders
Coming off their first loss of the season and returning home against an outmanned opponent, is there any doubt? Prediction: Win
Week 10: New York Giants
The Seahawks easily defeated the Giants 23-0 last year in New Jersey, a dress rehearsal for their Super Bowl victory at the same location -- MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks won't need a rehearsal to roll past the Giants in this one. Prediction: Win
Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs
This likely will be a low-scoring game between two strong defensive teams. Odds are against any team that has to try to win by matching its defense against the Seahawks' D. Prediction: Win
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals
The last time the Cardinals played at CenturyLink Field was last December when they handed the Seahawks a 17-10 loss. That won't happen again unless the Seahawks get caught looking ahead to the 49ers game. The Seahawks don't look ahead. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at San Francisco 49ers
It's a Thanksgiving night, national TV game in the 49ers' shiny new stadium against the hated Seahawks. If San Francisco can't win this one, its time as a championship contender is over. Prediction: Loss
Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles
This is the toughest part of the season for the Seahawks with back-to-back road games against likely playoff contenders. But the 10 days between games will help and be enough of a cushion to keep Seattle from losing two in a row. Prediction: Win
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers
This is a game that could decide which team wins the NFC West. No way the Seahawks lose to the 49ers twice in three weeks, especially not in front of a rabid full house of 12s. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals probably will be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Seahawks already will be in at 12-2. That difference will be just enough for Arizona to win at home in the same stadium where the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl a few weeks later. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: St. Louis Rams
For the second consecutive year, the Rams close the regular season in Seattle. And for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks will beat them without much trouble. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 13-3
Most of the players probably will not play leading roles for their new teams. Some could develop over time.
We have recently considered whether having a high number of released players awarded to other teams via waivers might reflect well on a team's roster strength. The thinking is that stronger teams release better players overall, and weaker teams find more of those players appealing. This sounds logical and appears true in some cases even though the overall numbers suggest this isn't necessarily the case.
In any event, the chart below ranks teams by the number of released players awarded to other teams via waivers immediately following the reduction to 53 players. A league-high five players released by the Green Bay Packers immediately found homes elsewhere via waivers. The Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles were next with four apiece.
On the flip side, Kansas City and Jacksonville each received a league-high seven players off waivers from other teams. Cleveland was next with six, followed by New England (four), the New York Jets (three) and four teams with two apiece: Oakland, San Diego, Tampa Bay and Arizona.
The total number of claims submitted exceeds the number of players awarded because some players were claimed more than once. I do not yet have the total number of claims submitted. The numbers I've referenced here pertain only to players awarded via waivers.
Note that Seattle's strength in the secondary shines through. The Seahawks were the only team to have two of the defensive backs they released awarded to other teams via waivers. Ron Parker went to Kansas City. Winston Guy went to Jacksonville. Another former Seahawks defensive back, Will Blackmon, was not eligible for waivers when Seattle terminated his contract. The Jaguars signed him as well. Yet another Seattle defensive back, Antoine Winfield, was expected to retire following his release from the Seahawks.
Connections came into play with those waiver claims. The Chiefs' general manager, John Dorsey, worked with Seahawks GM John Schneider in Green Bay. They could be looking for similar players in some cases. Guy and Blackmon join a Jaguars team featuring former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as head coach.
The chart shows the Detroit Lions as the oldest team and the St. Louis Rams as the youngest. Where the Rams rank comes as no surprise if you've been following their building process in the NFC West recently.
The Seattle Seahawks rank among the younger teams overall. They have the youngest offensive players after releasing fullback Michael Robinson.
The rankings exclude players placed on various reserve lists (physically unable to perform, non-football injury, injured and suspended). Note also that rankings are based on ages calculated to the day, not rounded backward to the nearest birthday. A player born in January will be older than a player born in October of the same year, for example. I've taken into account the difference in making these calculations. Rounding backward to the nearest birthday shaves about a half-year off the average ages.
I've shaded the NFC West teams in the chart for easier reference.
While the Arizona Cardinals did part with older players such as Adrian Wilson, they still have veteran flavor with Yeremiah Bell, John Abraham, Carson Palmer, Darnell Dockett, Daryn Colledge, Larry Fitzgerald and the NFL's oldest specialists.
Seattle got younger by releasing Robinson and 36-year-old cornerback Antoine Winfield. No player on the active roster has had his 32nd birthday. By comparison, six San Francisco 49ers are at least 32 years old.
The 49ers parted with 36-year-old long snapper Brian Jennings, 33-year-old Kassim Osgood and 33-year-old Seneca Wallace. They also added some veteran players this offseason, including Anquan Boldin, Phil Dawson, Nnamdi Asomugha and Adam Snyder. Asomugha and 32-year-old Carlos Rogers help give the 49ers the NFL's oldest defensive backs by average age. We should expect the team to get younger there over the next year, possibly by using an early draft choice for a cornerback.
Note: I have not visited courthouses to pull birth records for NFL players. Neither have teams. As someone who has tracked dates of birth for NFL players since 2007, I know there are times when listed birth dates change or conflict with records listed elsewhere. I make efforts to verify the dates. The team rankings at the extremes are more valuable than the ones in the middle because there is very little difference in average age for some teams.
The chart shows how many players each team from the division is carrying by position. Note that figures for defensive lineman and linebacker can be tricky, so a generic "front seven" figure could be more relevant in some cases.
One observation per team:
- Arizona Cardinals: Injury concerns have led the Cardinals to carry additional players at tight end. Starter Rob Housler suffered a high-ankle sprain and might not be ready for the opener. Veteran Jeff King has not yet played during preseason. The team added Richard Quinn as short-term insurance. Housler and King both passed physicals and have practiced during camp, making them ineligible for the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Both are expected back sooner than PUP rules would allow, anyway. For now, though, their injuries are creating roster challenges. Guard Jonathan Cooper is also ineligible for PUP. He could go on the injured reserve list with a designation for return later in the season.
- San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have 10 wide receivers on their 75-man roster, tied for most in the NFL even after placing Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham on the PUP list. Four or five of their remaining cuts figure to come at that position. The 49ers' wide receivers are the oldest in the NFL by average age thanks to Anquan Boldin (32) and Kassim Osgood (33). If Osgood sticks on the 53-man roster, special-teams contributions will explain why. Boldin, Jon Baldwin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton and Marlon Moore would be by picks if the team kept five.
- Seattle Seahawks: Defensive end Chris Clemons remained on the roster instead of shifting to the reserve/PUP list, another indication the team thinks he could return from knee surgery sooner rather than later. The PUP designation would allow Clemons to resume practicing between Oct. 15 and Nov. 19, but all signs point to Clemons being ready before that. Seattle needs him, too. Bruce Irvin faces a four-game suspension. Cliff Avril has a hamstring injury that could affect his availability for the opener. Keeping Clemons in play for Week 1 makes sense as long as there's a chance he could be ready by then.
- St. Louis Rams: The Rams are a little heavy at tight end while Cory Harkey recovers from injury and Lance Kendricks gets back to full speed following knee surgery. The Rams' roster appears pretty normal overall. The decisions looming appear straightforward. That could change as the team continues to build its depth.
Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Tarvaris Jackson are the Seattle players drafted under Childress, the former Minnesota Vikings coach. Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant are the current Seahawks left over from the Holmgren era.
Rosters will go through another round of changes when teams reduce from 90 to 53 players on Aug. 31. In the meantime, I've updated and made available for download my 26-column rosters for each NFC West team.
The second chart shows roster counts by position for each team.
The Arizona Cardinals have added three offensive linemen and two defensive linemen since early June, headlined by the free-agent signings of Eric Winston and John Abraham. They've dropped two at wide receiver (notably Ryan Swope), one at linebacker (O'Brien Schofield), and one at running back over the same span. Coach Bruce Arians recently indicated the team does not plan to add a running back despite injuries at the position. That suggests the team isn't worried about Rashard Mendenhall, who has missed time recently.
The overall number isn't most important to the Rams right now. For the first time in recent memory, they have five young receivers they're eager to build around: Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Stedman Bailey and Austin Pettis.
Pettis, Givens and Quick are returning. Austin and Bailey are new. Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander, Brandon Gibson, Greg Salas and Steve Smith are among those gone from this time last year.
For a closer look at rosters for the Rams and their NFC West rivals, check out my latest roster file, ready for download here.
Enjoy your Saturday -- the second-to-last one before training camps open.
Turns out I missed having the information handy. So, beginning in April, I went back through nearly six months of daily transactions to make the rosters current again. That process is complete and I'm now able to offer for download what I consider to be a pretty helpful tool for football junkies.
Here are the rosters in Excel featuring 26 columns of information for every current NFC West player, plus every player to spend time on the roster since the 2007 season. The file includes one sheet for each NFC West team, with summary information at the top.
Longtime visitors to the blog might recall me calling these downloadable rosters "roided out" in the past, a reference to their muscular nature. I'm not going to call them roided-out rosters any longer because the term too frequently stirs images of players suspended under the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.
Lineups aren't set in every case. Injuries are affecting a few situations. We're still able to put together a snapshot visible in the chart at the bottom of this entry.
Among the considerations:
- Arizona Cardinals: I've got Antoine Cason as one starting cornerback. Daryl Washington remains a projected starting linebacker despite his four-game suspension. Karlos Dansby is also in the lineup, leaving out 22-year-old rookie Kevin Minter, who obviously figures into the team's plans.
- Seattle Seahawks: Cliff Avril, 27, is penciled in as a starting defensive end while Chris Clemons, 31, recovers from knee surgery. The Seahawks are experimenting with quite a few combinations on defense, so there could be changes. I moved rookie Jesse Williams into the lineup at defensive tackle over veteran Tony McDaniel, 27.
- San Francisco 49ers: The totals for the 49ers stay the same in each category if Mario Manningham subs for Michael Crabtree at receiver. The 49ers would gain a starter under 25 years old if A.J. Jenkins ascended to the role. I've projected rookie Eric Reid, 21, as one starter at safety.
- St. Louis Rams: Left guard candidates Shelley Smith and Chris Williams are both in the 25-29 range, but the chart would change if you moved Rokevious Watkins, 24, into the lineup at their expense. I've got Alec Ogletree starting at linebacker. He is 21.
Reid and Ogletree are the youngest projected starters in the division, followed by 22-year-olds Tavon Austin, T.J. McDonald, Michael Brockers, Williams and Bobby Wagner. Wagner, who started as a rookie for Seattle last season, turns 23 later this month.
Seattle's Earl Thomas and San Francisco's Anthony Davis are among three players from 2010 through last season to have started all 48 regular-season games before turning 24. The New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul is the other.
Some have asked about the downloadable roster files I've made available in the past. Those still need some work as I verify information and expand what's available, not only for NFC West teams but for all the other ones as well. Context is key in presenting those.
The St. Louis Rams have a league-high 60 players not yet 25 years old. That is greater than what I would consider an ideal number. It reflects a larger than usual number of undrafted rookies. It shows the Rams' willingness to go young throughout nearly all the roster.
For example, three of the five specialists on the Rams' roster are not yet 25. The other two are 25. Sometimes even young teams go with veteran players in those positions. Not the Rams. They're young just about everywhere except in certain spots along the offensive line.
Three of the Arizona Cardinals' 30-plus players are specialists. The same goes for the San Francisco 49ers. That is something to keep in mind when looking at chart figures showing number of players age 30 and older.
Thanks to producer Liz Mathews for posting the audio .
John and I discussed a range of subjects and mentioned the St. Louis Rams' status as the youngest team in the division. The chart breaks down average ages for NFC West teams in several categories. The shaded row might be the most relevant one because the figures exclude ages for undrafted free agents, most of whom will not earn spots on 53-man rosters.
The Rams have 22 undrafted free agents on their roster, six more than any team in the division and 13 more than Seattle has on its roster. That is why the age gap between St. Louis and Seattle drops by 50 percent when the undrafted rookies are filtered out.
We'll make more sense of these numbers as the offseason continues. Here's hoping your Saturday is a good one.
I've updated our roided-out (as in unnaturally muscular) NFC West ones featuring 27 columns of information for every current, former (since 2007) and practice-squad player. Those are available for download here. The file has the usual four worksheets, one per team, with each sheet featuring summarized breakdowns for that team.
The St. Louis Rams do enter the regular season with the NFL's youngest roster by average age. They'll be facing the Detroit Lions, who have the NFL's oldest roster by average age. Seattle is ninth-youngest. Arizona is fourth-oldest. San Francisco is fifth-oldest.
The Cardinals have the second-oldest specialists. The 49ers have the third-oldest ones. Arizona becomes eighth-oldest and San Francisco ninth-oldest when considering only offensive and defensive players for each team.
Looking at projected starters only, Seattle has the third-youngest and St. Louis has the fifth-youngest. San Francisco has the 11th-oldest starters. Arizona is right in the middle with the 16th-oldest starters.
Seattle has the fourth-youngest offensive and fifth-youngest defensive starters.
St. Louis has the seventh-youngest starters on offense, and on defense.
Arizona's starters rank 13th (offense) and 19th (defense) when sorting youngest to oldest.
San Francisco's starters rank seventh-oldest on offense with Randy Moss in the lineup. The 49ers' defensive starters rank ninth-oldest thanks in part to the what has been oldest (and one of the very best) starting defensive lines in the league.
These starting age figures reflect projected lineups. I'll generally adjust the rankings after Week 1 based on actual lineups.
For now, though, I'm heading off to the airport to catch a flight to Arizona for the Seahawks-Cardinals game Sunday. The chart below shows roster counts by position.
That's good for a team that could use a youth infusion up front. It's unfortunate to the extent that Levi Brown's season-ending triceps injury made room on the roster for another young tackle, such as seventh-round rookie Nate Potter.
The Cardinals' starting offensive line was stable last season. The same players started every game at every position but right tackle, where Jeremy Bridges made six starts subbing for an injured Brandon Keith.
Arizona will have new starters at left tackle, right guard and possibly right tackle this season. The lineup has the potential to get younger if rookie Bobby Massie starts at right tackle.
The nine linemen making the initial cut: starting center Lyle Sendlein, starting left guard Daryn Colledge, starting right guard Adam Snyder, potential starting left tackle D'Anthony Batiste, rookie guard Senio Kelemete, guard Rich Ohrnberger, Massie, Potter and Bridges.
It's looking like Batiste and Massie will open the season as the starting tackles. Bridges provides an experienced alternative at either spot. Sendlein has started every game over the past four seasons, plus six playoff games. He would be the lineman most difficult to replace if lost to injury.
Arizona could be set up to lean more heavily on its ground game. Quarterback John Skelton remains unestablished. Questions persist at offensive tackle. The team has two talented running backs, four tight ends instead of three and five wide receivers instead of six. Then again, teams rarely use more than two tight ends at a time, and sixth receivers rarely factor.
While game situations can dictate run-pass ratios, a handful of teams were far more likely than Arizona to run on first down when the score was close (defined as a one-score differential or less). Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Kansas City and Houston were among teams running at least 60 percent of the time in these situations. Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay, Detroit and New England -- all teams with top quarterbacks -- were below 48 percent. Arizona was at 53 percent.
This could be a storyline to monitor. As noted, game situations can override the best intentions. But with a defense that appears strong, Arizona might be in position to make a more run-oriented offense work.
Elsewhere on the roster, the Cardinals remain deep at cornerback even after trading former starter A.J. Jefferson to Minnesota. They still have Patrick Peterson, William Gay, Michael Adams, Jamell Fleming and Greg Toler.
Receiver is another position of strength even though Arizona kept only five, one fewer than in recent seasons. First-round pick Michael Floyd joins a group already featuring Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts and Early Doucet. Rookie LaRon Byrd is the developmental player among the group.
The chart shows roster counts for Arizona by position. The asterisk in the headline reflects unofficial counts for the practice squad. The Cardinals have not announced their initial practice squad. Their website does refer to a few possibilities, culled from media reports.
For download: This Cardinals roster features 27 columns of info for every player on the roster since roughly 2007. It also feature summary info comparing the Cardinals against league averages.
Fisher has been on the job less than eight months. Spagnuolo was head coach for the previous three years.
That should give you a feel for the degree to which St. Louis is remaking its roster under new leadership.
The 11 players drafted under Fisher include nine members of the Rams' 2012 class, plus two of Fisher's former players in Tennessee: cornerback Cortland Finnegan and defensive end William Hayes. The 12th member of the Rams' latest draft class, seventh-round linebacker Aaron Brown, has signed to the practice squad.
Starters Sam Bradford, James Laurinaitis, Rodger Saffold, Lance Kendricks and Robert Quinn remain from the Rams' drafts under Spagnuolo and former general manager Billy Devaney.
Backups Bradley Fletcher, Josh Hull, Michael Hoomanawanui, Eugene Sims and Darell Scott also remain as picks from the previous leadership.
Pettis, a third-round choice in 2011, becomes eligible to join the roster after Week 2. He would also be a backup.
The Rams have recently traded 2009 first-rounder Jason Smith and 2011 fourth-rounder Greg Salas. They released 2010 third-rounder Jerome Murphy. Those three players once figured prominently into the Rams' plans. They are now footnotes.
As the chart shows, St. Louis has four tight ends, a high number reflecting the team's offensive philosophy. The Rams have one fewer offensive lineman than usual. They simply did not have nine worth keeping, in my view. It's debatable if they have even eight, but teams keep seven active on game days, making eight a low number. Injuries on the defensive line, specifically to rookie first-round draft choice Michael Brockers, account for the Rams keeping 10 at that position, a relatively high number.
For download: This Rams roster features 27 columns of info on all active and practice-squad players, plus every player on the roster since roughly 2007.
They did re-sign third quarterback Josh Portis to their practice squad. But with rookie third-round choice Russell Wilson starting and backup Matt Flynn scheduled to earn $19.5 million over the next three seasons, the team appears set atop its depth chart at the position.
Placing Portis on the practice squad, where he could sign with another team, appealed less when Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst were the top two quarterbacks last season. Portis was a bigger part of the team's plans for the position at that time.
The Seahawks are carrying one more running back and one more defensive back than they did for Week 1 last season. Seattle is one lighter at quarterback and on the offensive line. The team went into last season with 10 offensive linemen, one more than usual, while left tackle Russell Okung was returning from injury.
Seattle announced having added seven players to its practice squad: Portis, safety DeShawn Shead, receiver Ricardo Lockette, guard Rishaw Johnson, tight end Sean McGrath and two linebackers, Korey Toomer and Allen Bradford. All were with the team in camp. One spot on the practice squad remains open.
For download: Seahawks roster featuring 27 columns of info on the 53 active players, seven practice-squad players and every player on the team since roughly 2007.
This file also includes summary information comparing the Seahawks' roster to league averages in various categories. Note that defensive end Chris Clemons, 30, is the only Seattle starter in his 30s. Linebacker Leroy Hill will join Clemons on the list Sept. 14.
I do not have a jersey number for new tight end Evan Moore. You'll find his name atop the roster for now. Moore began his career with Green Bay in 2008. Seahawks general manager John Schneider was with the Packers then.
That provides a chance for me to pass along an updated version of the 49ers' roster for download. This Excel file features 27 columns for every 49ers player, plus those no longer on the roster (dating to roughly 2007, when I started maintaining theses for each team).
The chart shows positional counts for the 49ers' active roster and practice squad.
San Francisco signed to its practice squad two linebackers (Cam Johnson, Michael Wilhoite), two offensive linemen (Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter) and two defensive linemen (Matthew Masifilo, Tony Jerod-Eddie). The 49ers also signed receiver Nathan Palmer and safety Michael Thomas.
Johnson provides practice depth at outside linebacker. Wilhoite was one of the NFC West's more impressive young inside linebackers during preseason. Thomas was a player 49ers veteran safety Donte Whitner singled out as likely to stick on the practice squad, with a chance to develop into a regular-season contributor.
The New York Jets claimed tight end Konrad Reuland off waivers. The Indianapolis Colts claimed offensive lineman Mike Person.