Allen Bradford already knows the business side of football

Posted Aug 30, 2013

Released. Re-signed. Waived. Claimed. Cut. Added to the practice squad. Allen Bradford has been there, but the middle linebacker is hoping he has done enough this summer to earn a spot on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster.

A year ago, the Seahawks released Allen Bradford on his birthday.

This year? Well, Bradford turns 25 on Saturday, and Aug. 31 once again is the deadline for teams to reduce their 75-man rosters to the league-mandated limit of 53 players.

“This year, I might get cut again on my birthday,” Bradford said in the locker room at CenturyLink Field on Thursday night after the Seahawks had completed an unbeaten preseason with a 22-6 victory over the Oakland Raiders.

At least the running back turned middle linebacker was able to smile about his precarious – and possibly repetitive – situation. That’s because Bradford knows he did almost everything he could to secure a spot on the 53-man roster, but also because he already has come to grips with what happens when the game he loves, and loves playing, becomes a business.

He was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – as a running back out of USC – only to be waived in October. That’s when the Seahawks claimed him, only to release him and re-sign him to the practice squad – where he proved to be a two-fer addition, because he could play running back and linebacker against the team’s starters in practice.

Bradford was signed to a future contract in January of 2012, but released on last year’s roster cut to 53, only to be signed to the practice squad again – and released five days later; and re-signed eight days later; and released five days later; and re-signed three days later. But in late December, he was added to the 53-man roster, and then signed to a future contract this January.

“I’m really not nervous in being released. I’ve felt it before,” Bradford said. “I just want to, if I can, stay here. If they chose to keep me on the 53-man roster, it will be a pleasure. But if the numbers get a certain way and they’ve got to release me, then I’ve got to go somewhere else.

“That’s what I’ve learned in this business: The logos change on your helmet, but the last name remains the same.”

All Bradford did this preseason was lead the team with 22 tackles – eight in the opener against the Chargers in San Diego, where he started because Bobby Wagner was out with an injury; two in Week 2, when both tackles against the Denver Broncos were for losses; four last week against the Packers in Green Bay; and eight more against the Raiders.

But the eight-tackle performance against the Raiders was better than the eight-tackle outing in the opener.

“I think I came a long way, especially from that first game,” he said. “Because I wasn’t seeing the power (plays) at all. Now, my eyes are disciplined and I’m starting to believe in what I see and to go and not second-guess myself.

“Last year, I didn’t know anything. I was just flying around fast. Now this year, I kind of know a lot so I’m kind of hesitant to make sure I’m in the right spot. But tonight I think I just let go and when I saw something I just went downhill.”

The believing was in the seeing. The TV camera caught a close-up of Bradford’s face through his facemask a couple times. Binoculars allowed a couple more snapshots of a middle linebacker who not only looked assured, but was making sure everyone else was aligned properly.

“I feel comfortable out there and I was just trying to get the guys lined up right and make the right calls and the right checks,” he said. “That’s what the middle linebacker does.”

The last time Bradford played this much linebacker was at Colton High School in Southern California. But that’s when he was playing the strong side and, as he put it, “I was blitzing all the time.”

“It wasn’t anything like this,” he added. “Just being able to make the right calls and line everybody up and still do what you’ve got to do, I think it’s a real improvement.”

But has he improved enough at his new position to have a really happy birthday this year? 

“I don’t know if I’ve done enough, or did not do enough,” he said. “I always feel like I’m cut until I know come waivers day. That’s just from past experience. I always feel like I’m not on the team until I know for sure that I am.”