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2024 training camp preview: 5 veteran Seahawks on the roster bubble

Several recent Seahawks draft picks could see themselves on the outside looking in come August.

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San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images

It’s July, which means it’s training camp month for the Seattle Seahawks and the rest of the NFL. There will be competitive position battles, undrafted free agent standouts, stock risers, stock fallers, and some tough decisions to make once preseason concludes in late August.

As part of our preview of the first training camp and preseason of the Mike Macdonald, we’re going to look at five Seahawks veterans who are “on the bubble” in terms of roster spot security. I consider a veteran Seahawks player someone who has been with the team for at least two seasons.

Dee Eskridge - Wide Receiver

It’s a bit of a surprise he even made it to a fourth season. Between his injuries, wildly ineffective play, and suspension for domestic violence last season, the Seahawks would’ve been well justified in letting the 2021 second-round pick go elsewhere.

There is zero precedent for a breakout season for an early-round receiver who’s amassed only 17 career receptions in 24 games played. One of his career highlights is the kick return against the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night, which I suppose is enough to see if he can factor on special teams with the new kickoff rules.

DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are well ahead of him on the depth chart, and Jake Bobo has already exceeded Eskridge’s entire offensive output in just one season. Laviska Shenault Jr could conceivably be described as a second-round bust, yet he’s also produced much more on offense than Eskridge. Dareke Young has an opportunity to showcase something after an injury-laden second season, and he’s already provided value as a special teams gunner.

Eskridge’s restructured contract means Seattle would be on the hook for over $400,000 in dead money due to the prorated signing bonus, otherwise he’s on a low-value contract that makes this year his absolute last chance.

Stone Forsythe - Offensive Line

The series of injuries at tackle led to Forsythe seeing the most action of his Seahawks career. Eight starts and 501 offensive snaps more than tripled his previous regular season experience, and the results were mixed. If you value PFF grades, Forsythe was a positive run blocker but a bad pass blocker who allowed five sacks. Other than a handful snaps as a rookie, he’s consistently graded poorly against the pass.

In Forsythe’s defense, he was tasked with a lot of right tackle duties in addition to being a backup left tackle. There was a reason why the Seahawks grabbed Jason Peters out of retirement and had to pull the plug on extended playing time for Jake Curhan.

The unraveling of the offensive line last season and the struggles of Forsythe, Curhan, etc. seemingly prompted the Seahawks to bring back George Fant. He can play left and right tackle just like Forsythe, but he’s more accomplished. Seattle also drafted Sautoa Laumea and Michael Jerrell, both of whom could end up being guards but otherwise are options at right tackle in case something happens to Abe Lucas.

Forsythe has arguably been about as advertised for a Day 3 pick, but that also means the Seahawks shouldn’t stay attached to him if they believe there are better depth options on the roster.

Darrell Taylor - Outside linebacker

Taylor is a case study in the value of raw sack totals compared to per-snap effectiveness. If you looked at Taylor’s sacks, he has 21.5 over three seasons, which puts him in the top-35 among all defensive players during that time frame. The other side of Taylor is he’s offered close to nothing as a run defender and was briefly benched in 2022 for a waiver wire pickup because of his struggles setting the edge.

When Taylor isn’t getting sacks he isn’t pressuring the quarterback at a high rate. His pass-rush win rate (based on PFF’s metric) is one of the worst in the NFL and has been in the bottom-quartile in each of the past two seasons. He’s a feast or famine player with way too much famine happening and none of the supplementary benefits against the run.

Dre’Mont Jones moving to edge rusher and Nelson Ceaser getting picked up as a UDFA make Taylor a likely cut candidate if he doesn’t show improvement. Purely for salary cap purposes, moving on from him saves the Seahawks over $3 million, so time is ticking for the 2020 second-rounder.

Jon Rhattigan - Inside linebacker

This is dicey because inside linebacker is a position of minimal depth for Seattle, and Rhattigan at least has been around the team. With that said, Rhattigan also didn’t make the active roster last season and was signed via the practice squad in late September. Yes, Rhattigan has been a special teams regular, but he’s also played 19 regular season snaps in three years, all of which came after the Seahawks were either comfortably ahead or well behind.

Tyrel Dodson and Jerome Baker project as the starting linebackers, with rookie Tyrice Knight waiting in the wings. Patrick O’Connell was a bright spot last preseason and has worked with Rhattigan during minicamp while Dodson and Baker have been out. Wyoming’s Easton Gibbs is a notable UDFA who could make a push for a roster spot in camp.

There’s never really been much to indicate Rhattigan can go from never playing meaningful snaps to being a major contributor on defense. Special teams and the lack of off-ball linebacker depth are really the primary things keeping Rhattigan afloat on the roster, and I’m not sure that’s a lock to continue.

Artie Burns - Cornerback

That Burns is even on the bubble might be kind to him. The Seahawks drafted Auburn corners Nehemiah Pritchett and D.J. James, with James eyed by the coaching staff to work on the inside. Burns didn’t really pan out with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an outside corner but revitalized his career (to an extent) by being a capable nickel option on other teams.

Between his experience as an outside and slot corner plus his heavy usage on special teams, Burns played a significant role on last season’s team and was once again re-signed this offseason. However, unlike some of the others on this list, Burns’ future is less about sub-standard performance and more about a 29-year-old losing out to younger players in a position of strength and high potential.

I suppose Mike Jackson Sr. could also be on this list given he already lost his starting job to Tre Brown last year, but I believe there’s a stronger chance that Burns is gone than Jackson.