With Week 1 of the 2023 season almost here, Seahawks general manager John Schneider met with the media to cover a wide range of topics, touching on everything from injuries to roster building and plenty more.
Here are five takeaways from Schneider's press conference:
1. A young roster helps with managing the salary cap.
The Seahawks currently have 14 rookies on their 53-man roster, as well as 10 second-year players, giving them one of the youngest rosters in the NFL. With 14 rookies and 33 players age 25 or younger, the Seahawks rank third in the league in both of those categories, while their average age of 25.95 is fifth youngest in the league.
The Seahawks didn't necessarily set out to intentionally build one of the NFL's youngest rosters, but it happened in part because of all the draft capital the team acquired in the trade that sent Russell Wilson to Denver last year. And being so young comes with some advantages, especially when it comes to managing the NFL's salary cap.
"It's not necessarily a target, but you have to try to balance your salary cap and how you're paying people at different positions," Schneider said. "When you have younger players, it's a smaller salary. You have to try to be smart. (Former Packers general manager) Ted Thompson would always say 'Keep your powder dry towards the end of the season' so you have enough cap room and or space in cash to work with towards the end of the season. For us, primarily cap space as we move forward here."
2. Dareke Young had surgery in Philadelphia, plus more on Devon Witherspoon's injury.
The Seahawks placed second-year receiver Dareke Young on injured reserve Monday, meaning he will be out at least four games before he is eligible to return. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last month that Young, who was dealing with an abductor injury, might need surgery, and Schneider confirmed that Young indeed did recently have that surgery in Philadelphia.
"He had surgery in Philadelphia about a week and a half ago," Schneider said. "We just wanted to use the IR return designation to be able to let him rehab and be able to have him down the line. It's a good place we can get him back. Timelines are all different for that sort of thing, but once he went to Philadelphia it seemed like he was probably going to have surgery."
Asked about another injured Seahawk, rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon, Scheider said of the No. 5 overall pick's hamstring injury, "We have to be smart with it. He's doing great. We'll see how he does this week now… He's such a tough, gritty competitor. He's going to go for it. If anything, we're probably going to have to govern him a little bit."
Asked about Witherspoon's performance before the injury, Scheider said, "Really good, he was taking reps inside and I don't think we talked about it around the draft, his route anticipation and awareness, feel for crossers and people behind him is really impressive."
3. The ability to keep 16 players on the practice squad and elevate players on game day has changed roster construction to a degree.
When talking about getting to this point of the season where they've trimmed the roster from 90 to 53 players, Scheider said, "We've been talking the last month now having the 90 players and having 69 players and what that looks like."
That echoed comments made by Carroll prior to roster cuts, noting that the team really sees the 53-man roster as well as the 16-player practice squad as the complete team. That's especially true now that teams can elevate two practice squad players each week for games, giving them a deeper pool of players to draw from when deciding on the active roster for gameday. The expansion of the practice squad and the ability to elevate practice squad players both came about in 2020 to give teams more flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the NFL has since decided to keep those rules in place.
Schneider, like Carroll, likes the extra flexibility, and also noted it has changed the way teams build their rosters a bit.
"Being able to elevate two guys is a big deal and then having 16 players and several vets, it's been great," he said. "Teams have done a really good job, especially the last two years of being really strategic with their roster development when we do cut from 90 to 53. There are several teams that kept 11 offensive linemen or seven corners, or seven receivers. That balance by position on the 53-man roster, having the practice squad has affected that. We didn't see quite as many names at the heavier positions or the positions that you would hope would be heavier, like offensive line and defensive line."
4. The Seahawks are excited about their new-look defensive front, but for the front office, the tinkering never stops.
Schneider has pointed out over the years that he and Carroll have different outlooks on the roster this time of year. Carroll and his coaching staff are focused on the current players on the team, and are, for good reason, optimistic about the team that will take the field against the Rams on Sunday, but for Schneider, the job of building, as he calls it, a consistent, championship-caliber team, never stops. So even as the coaching staff is excited about the player they are working with currently, Schneider and the rest of the front office are looking for ways to improve the roster. That's true of every position group, including a rebuilt defensive line that the Seahawks hope will turn around a run defense that ranked 30th in the NFL last season.
"I think our coaches are excited about our group," Schneider said. "We are trying to get a feel for the landscape right now and going over the waiver wire and all that, possible trades, we're still constantly working on it. I don't think on either side of the ball, the way the league is playing out right now, last several years I don't think you have enough offensive linemen or enough defensive linemen. That's not a slight on anybody that's here or on other teams, it's just the reality of it. The numbers are down over the last several years, especially in the offensive line. Defensive line-wise, we're constantly looking and we won't stop."
5. Jamal Adams' injury was a factor in the decision to sign Julian Love, but not the main one.
When the Seahawks signed Julian Love this spring, the move came as a surprise to some given that Love was one of the best safeties available in free agency and that Seattle already had two Pro-Bowlers on their team in Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. Carroll said not long after the signing that the move was made because the Seahawks really liked what Love brings and that they plan to use all three safeties a lot this season, and now, with Adams not expected to play in Week 1, the addition of Love is all the more significant as it gives the Seahawks two high-end safeties to start even with Adams sidelined. And while the possibility of this scenario playing out was at least part of the reason Seattle added Love, it wasn't the main reason for the signing.
"I'd be lying to you if I told you it wasn't a part of our thought process, how Jamal was doing at the time with his rehab, but I would put a percentage in it, like maybe 10-15 percent," Schneider said "It was more about the player, the competitor, and the person and we had identified him as one of the better players in free agency that we wanted to try and add to our team, and we just stayed with it during our process. Our guys did a great job of communicating, and then Matt Thomas and everybody were working that weekend to make sure we could come close to an agreement."
Here is the roster for the 2023 Seahawks.