This past weekend could have been a lot worse for Kelcie McCray.
On Saturday, the day all 32 NFL teams were required to trim their 75-man rosters down to a maximum of 53 players, the fourth-year safety McCray was called into the office of Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey, a sign that doesn't often bode well for one's future at this particular time of year.
But Dorsey quickly reassured McCray that he wasn't being cut. Instead, the Chiefs GM relayed to McCray that he had been acquired by the Seahawks, who shipped a 2016 fifth-round draft pick to Kansas City for the safety's services.
"It is nice to be wanted," McCray said Monday from his new locker at Seahawks headquarters. "It could have ended up a lot worse. I know a lot of guys, a lot of my friends are without a job right now. So it could be a lot worse."
McCray, who will wear No. 33 for the Seahawks - an open number in Seattle following Sunday's trade of running back Christine Michael, was brought into the Seahawks' secondary to provide experience and depth at the safety spot. Primarily known for his play on special teams, McCray played both free and strong safety during his one year with the Chiefs (2014) and also saw time at both spots during his 2013 stay with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"First off, he's a good all-around football player," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of McCray, who's recorded 23 tackles and a pass defensed the past three seasons. "He's an excellent special teams guy, a leading special teams player on their team. A guy that can play in the hole and get up on the line of scrimmage. He's got real good skills in coverage and so we're anxious to see where we fit him in."
All-Pro Earl Thomas is set to open the season as the team's starting free safety following offseason surgery to his shoulder and Dion Bailey is listed as the team's starting strong safety with Kam Chancellor yet to report. Carroll said he has confidence in the second-year pro Bailey at the strong safety spot, but noted it was important to add a veteran player like McCray to help solidify the position group.
"We're ready to start Dion and go," said Carroll. "He's ready to play football, he had a good preseason, he's ready to go. But we wanted some depth with some experience and the other kids were going to be first-year guys and we thought we needed a little bit more depth than that with some background."
McCray found himself playing against the Seahawks just two weeks ago in the second game of the preseason. He also played against the Seahawks last year, when the Chiefs earned a 24-20 victory at Arrowhead Stadium.
"I feel like it's fun because I just was competing against these guys two weeks ago, and even last year, competing on some of the guys on special teams, defense," McCray said following his first practice at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center. "So it's fun to actually be a part of this group now and we can talk about laughing [at] what happened in the game, 'I got you, you got me,' or whatever."
McCray stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs 202 pounds, so he has the type of size the Seahawks covet in their secondary. He said he spent a few hours with Seahawks coaches yesterday trying to learn the playbook, but admitted his first day on the job in the Pacific Northwest was a little rough.
"Being out there today it was kind of fast," McCray said. "But I think that's just going to take time to get adjusted to."
And fast is exactly what McCray has seen while watching the Seattle defense play from afar the past couple of seasons.
"Physical, fast, relentless, all those attributes, just flying around," McCray said. "Watching these guys on film it was definitely impressive and I'm definitely happy to be a part of it now."
Seahawks fans might have to wait to see exactly what McCray can do on the field, though, with Carroll indicating the club will evaluate how he practices this week before determining whether or not he'll see action in the regular season opener against the Rams this Sunday in St. Louis.
"We need to see him play a little bit and see him practice to see where he fits in as far as what style he really brings to us that we can utilize right away," Carroll said. "We have some flexibility there, so we'll see how it goes. It's obviously a really important week for him."
It was Labor Day, but the Seahawks were at VMAC to begin the first regular season gameweek of the year against the St. Louis Rams.