The Seahawks' preseason ended Thursday night with a 31-21 victory over the Oakland Raiders, and while players get a little break before returning to practice Monday, this is one of the busiest and most difficult weekends of the year for general manager John Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll and the rest of the front office.
By Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, NFL teams have to trim their roster from 75 players down to 53. For the Seahawks and every other NFL team, that means making some tough decisions about their own players while also keeping an eye on what's happening around the rest of the league.
"These guys will be coming through our offices, we have 23 guys we have to make decisions on these next two days and it's never easy," Schneider said Thursday on the Seahawks pregame radio show. "(Packers general manager) Ted Thompson in Green Bay, he would literally get a cold or the flu that weekend. It hit me yesterday pretty hard."
The decisions are tough in part because it's never fun telling a player he is no longer on the team, but also because the Seahawks roster is just really deep this year. All eight receivers look like they could contribute this year both on offense and special teams, yet there's likely only room for six; the defensive line is very deep, but again not everyone can stick around; the two undrafted rookie running backs have both looked good; and there is a lot of young talent in the secondary that's hard to sort out.
"There's some good football players on this team that we might not be able to keep," Carroll said. "I think it's been a tremendously competitive camp and offseason for us, and guys have showed well in a lot of areas, and this is the kind of depth and competition we're trying to create throughout the depth chart, it makes everybody better."
And at this time of year, it's not just about evaluating the 75 players on the current roster. The Seahawks scouting department is watching other teams, trying to guess who might get cut, who might be available in trade, then comparing those players against Seattle's.
"There's about five, six guys we're concentrating on tonight and comparing those guys to other players who are out there who we're talking to other teams about," Schneider said before the game. "… It's a long weekend for us. We've tried mapping this out, and our guys, (co-directors of player personnel) Trent Kirchner, Scott Fitterer, (director of pro personnel) Dan Morgan, we try to map it out, who's on the bubble and who's not, and try to study those players… There's so many guys getting let go this weekend."
The decisions that will be made over the next two days aren't fun or easy, but they will be important to the future of the team.
"It's a tough time, because there's so much scouting and preparation that goes into acquiring these guys, then all of a sudden it comes down to one last weekend here," Schneider said. "You've got to make sound decisions and do what's best for the organization first and foremost."