Seahawks cut dozen ahead of deadline
Seattle Times staff reporter
KIRKLAND — After yesterday, 12 were gone. By the start of today's practice, two more Seahawks will be released, and the first wave of NFL-mandated roster cuts will be complete.
Only to occur again in five days, as the Seahawks must trim their roster from what will be 70 players today to 53, plus a five-man practice squad, by Monday.
Yesterday's list of 12, which whittled the roster to 72, included three Seahawks draft picks, a fifth-year linebacker and two offseason acquisitions regarded as important roster moves when signed. The Seahawks will cut two more players by noon today, and a few remaining players will have two more days of practice and the exhibition finale Friday night in Denver to make their case.
Several recognizable names topped the list of released players on a day coach Mike Holmgren calls one of his toughest.
Second-year quarterback Jeff Kelly (7th round, 2002), defensive end John Hilliard (6th round, 2000) and wide receiver James Williams (6th round, 2000) were among the cuts. Other cuts included linebacker Tim Terry, punter Rodney Williams and tackle Michael Thompson.
"Any time you have to release someone that has been with you a year or two, you know them better and it's harder to make the cut," Holmgren said.
Holmgren added that he needed yesterday's practice to get one last look at players before deciding on the next two cuts. Wide receiver Jerheme Urban and a group of linebackers, including rookie Tracy White, got a good deal of plays during the day's only practice.
As for those players released, Holmgren, as his custom, made his decisions yesterday instead of waiting until today's noon deadline.
"I think when you know, you owe it to the players to let them know," Holmgren said. "I've never seen the point in waiting. ... I don't think that is fair for the players to do. We've always just tried to do it quickly and be done with it."
Kelly, the Seahawks' No. 3 quarterback last year, appeared in two of the team's three exhibition games and completed 4 of 5 passes. Hilliard played in 27 games during his Seahawks career and made 11 starts, eight in 2000, but was hampered by a broken hand early in this year's training camp. James Williams had been competing for the fifth wide-receiver position. In 29 career games, Williams made four starts, caught 29 passes for 410 yards, including a touchdown, and averaged 18.3 yards on kickoff returns.
Terry, an undrafted free agent who signed with Seattle in 2000, worked his way up from the practice squad and started eight games last season in place of the injured Chad Brown. He had 42 total tackles in 2002 and made his mark on special teams in 2001.
Holmgren called Terry "a wonderful guy and a class act."
"When he was here he did everything we asked him to do and more, and off the field he was one of our leaders and he was a good person," Holmgren said. "I wish him well and if he has a chance to continue playing somewhere else I hope it works out, and I'll help him out anyway that I can. I'll always do that."
Thompson is a three-year veteran picked up in a trade with Atlanta on April 10. Thompson was to be the Seahawks' insurance at left tackle in the event of a drawn-out contract dispute with Pro Bowl tackle Walter Jones, but was ineffective in training camp and never advanced beyond the third team.
The struggle with Jones continues, and the Seahawks are left with Floyd Womack as the starter at left tackle, and rookie Wayne Hunter as backup.
Rodney Williams had won a four-man tryout for a contract in March. Williams and veteran Tom Rouen were competing for the team's punting job in training camp. Williams was the only punter used in Saturday's exhibition game and was inconsistent on his two punts, and became expendable. Seattle still has Rouen and the recently acquired Mat McBriar on the roster.
The Seahawks also released rookie wide receiver Cedric Bonner, former practice-squad guard Konrad Dean, free-agent tackle Dustin Kroeker, third-year cornerback Tony Scott, former Arena League kicker Remy Hamilton and free-agent fullback Ed Stansbury.
• Hunter and rookie wide receiver Jason Willis did not attend practice yesterday. Hunter's girlfriend is expecting a child and Willis, who broke a thumb against Kansas City on Saturday, saw a hand specialist. WRs Bobby Engram and Darrell Jackson missed yesterday's practice because of soreness and probably will miss today. Safety Terreal Bierria wore a sling over his left arm after injuring the rotator cuff in his shoulder. He could be out for two weeks, Holmgren said.
Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company