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Monday, August 12, 2013
Closer look at Pete Carroll's roster claim

By Mike Sando

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll cited interesting evidence Monday regarding the team's roster strength. Even the team's castoffs are highly valued around the NFL, he said, and a check of the waiver wire would confirm it.

Was this true? If so, what might it mean? I'll offer some thoughts on that. First, though, let's consider what Carroll said during his interview with 710ESPN Seattle.

"We have had more players claimed [off waivers] than any other team in the NFL over the last three years by a pretty good number," Carroll said. "That is a statement of who you have on your team and that is including the first year, when nobody wanted our guys. There will be teams that wanted our guys coming off this roster, too. We will have a very, very difficult time organizing the 53 this year."

Jason Vida of ESPN Stats & Information confirmed Carroll's information regarding waiver claims. A league-high 25 players waived by Seattle since 2010 were subsequently awarded to other teams. Other players were claimed but never awarded because the claiming team had placed a higher priority on other players it was seeking within the same waiver cycle.

So, Carroll was right. But was he correct in tying the league-leading number to overall roster strength? That question is tougher to answer.

In looking at the chart, we do not necessarily see high correlation between players awarded and perceived overall roster strength.

San Francisco and Baltimore rank below Oakland in this category, for example. The 49ers' roster has been as strong or stronger than the Seahawks' roster, by most accounts, but Seattle holds a 25-6 lead in released players awarded to other teams on waivers. Is that meaningful? Would anyone rank the St. Louis Rams, with 18 waived players awarded to other teams, over the 49ers in overall roster strength since 2010?

Of course, having a waived player claimed by another team and awarded to that team could in some cases reflect a personnel mistake. Last year, for example, the Seahawks kept veteran corner Marcus Trufant on their roster at the expense of Phillip Adams, who wound up contributing to the Oakland Raiders. Good move?

The 25 former Seattle players awarded to other teams since 2010 did not go on to stardom elsewhere. And there were actually more Seattle castoffs awarded to other teams in 2010 (10), when the team was rebuilding, than there were in 2011 (four), 2012 (eight) or to this point in 2013 (three).

The overall number (25) indeed marks a dramatic increase from the three seasons before Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived in Seattle. The number was five over that span. But the team's priorities obviously changed when the front office and coaching staff turned over simultaneously after the 2009 season.

The bottom line: The Seahawks have made an unusually high number of overall roster moves in the past few seasons. They have continually churned their roster. A team waiving players more frequently should have a higher total number of players awarded to other teams via waiver claims. This could explain why the Seahawks and even the Rams rank higher in the chart than the 49ers or Ravens. San Francisco and Baltimore were ahead of these teams in the roster building process, so they did not churn as vigorously. As a team gets better, the number of released players awarded to others via waivers could fall even as the roster decisions become more difficult.