By Saturday afternoon, the Seahawks will have 53 players on their roster, and while it isn't yet entirely clear who all 53 of those players will be, head coach Pete Carroll is excited about the 2019 prospects for his team.
"We have a really good foundation," Carroll said following his team's preseason finale, a 17-15 win over the Oakland Raiders. "I think we're going to have a really good team, and I don't care about saying that. I don't think there's any question in my mind that we're going to play really good football and we're going to be hard to beat, particularly if we can continue to run the ball. We've got the right guys."
Figuring out who those guys are, however, is a process that will continue not just to Saturday's roster cuts, but through the weekend. With 31 other teams having to trim their rosters this week, Seattle's personnel department will have a close eye on the waiver wire for any potential additions. Trades are also common on cut day, with the Seahawks involved in several over the past few years.
In other words, the 53-man roster for Seattle's Week 1 game against Cincinnati is likely to include a handful of players who aren't currently on the 90-man roster heading into this weekend.
"There's a lot going on at the same time," Carroll said of the work done by the pro personnel department. "There are so many things happening. They're budgeting their time, they're budgeting their work. They're responsible for all of the names in the league right now. It doesn't just happen in the last week. It's been ongoing throughout. These guys that have been working the board as soon as we can see guys on film, way back four weeks ago. We have evaluations done before too. So now, we assess the evaluation based on what we had, and we see do they matchup? Are they better than we thought? Yeah, this guy's got what we thought he had, just unfortunately we didn't have him. There are all kinds of stuff that goes into that. It's just a rigorous, ongoing project and our guys have really done a great job. We know that we've won in this little segment here of opportunity a number of times. There have been some really good guys here that we picked up right at the end. We have to be open to that. It makes it doubly hard because we like the guys we have. That's what's happening."
Carroll and Seahawks general manager John Schneider have the final say when it comes to putting the roster together this weekend, but it's a big group effort that is a year-round process. And while not everyone the Seahawks like can fit onto the roster, there are opportunities for players who are cut to either stick around on the practice squad, find jobs with other teams, or in some cases be re-signed later in the season.
"It's a long process really," Carroll said. "It's not just the last day and all that. It's a process of gathering information and a lot of conversation, watching the film, going back at times. We go back and we look again to see some things that we needed to see, to verify stuff. There's a number of opinions that are flying, and really John and I figure it out and make the choices. We've invested so much, and these guys have invested so much and it's a challenging process because we don't want to let anybody go. We'd like our team to stay as it is, but we don't get to do that. What we do recognize though is the guys that have been with us that do have to go on cut day, they've made headway into this program. We know who they are, we know what they can do. We know where they fit and how they could help us down the road. That's as if they've kind of filled out their resume for us and shown us how they may have a future. I mean, every guy that's still here at this point could help us during the season in some fashion. They wouldn't still be here. They've done a lot of great work and they've accomplished a great deal and sometimes you just run out of numbers. You can't fit them in."
When it comes time to give the bad news to players, Carroll tries to make sure he carves out time for a conversation with every player, because while plenty of players cut this weekend will bounce back and find a spot on another team or a practice squad, this weekend represents the end of an NFL dream for others. That's something Carroll can relate to having pursued a playing career after college—a process that included an open tryout with Chuck Knox’s Los Angeles Rams—without ever landing a spot on an NFL roster.
"I like to talk to every guy," Carroll said. "I remember the last time I got cut. I remember how that went. I remember what was said, the looks, the emotion of it and all that. If it happens to be a guy's last time, I want to make it something that meant something to him, and he understands the depth of it and the care and all that even though it could be looked at as a real coldhearted moment. That's not what it is. We do the best we can."
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' final preseason game of 2019 against the Oakland Raiders at CenturyLink Field.