The Seahawks had a busy Tuesday, bringing in veteran Blake Bortles for a tryout to add depth at quarterback with Russell Wilson sidelined, and are expected to soon to waive former starting cornerback Tre Flowers in a move he requested.
Here’s a look at the each piece of news.
Could QB Blake Bortles add depth at QB?
According to official NFL transactions, the Seahawks had Bortles in for a workout Tuesday as they seek depth at quarterback.
Bortles, who was the third overall pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars and started for five seasons there, has since had two separate stints with the Rams when Shane Waldron — who is now Seattle’s offensive coordinator — was an assistant in LA. And that knowledge means he could get up to speed quickly on Seattle’s playbook, something needed as the team seeks some immediate depth in the wake of Russell Wilson’s finger injury, which is likely to sideline Wilson for at least the next three games.
Wilson remains on the 53-man roster for now but could be put on injured reserve this week to open up a roster spot. Going on IR, however, would mean Wilson would have to miss at least three games.
Seattle has just two healthy QBs on the roster in Geno Smith and Jake Luton. Luton remains on the practice squad and could be signed or elevated to the 53-man roster for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh. The Seahawks on Tuesday placed a practice protection on Luton, so he cannot be signed by another team to its 53-man roster. That could mean Seattle will leave Luton on the PS for now, and if it signs Bortles, it could decide later on which one to have on the active roster for Sunday’s game as Smith’s backup.
Bortles started 73 games from 2014-18 for the Jags and was the QB when Jacksonville won two playoff games in 2017 to advance to the AFC title game against New England. The Patriots rallied late to win 24-20.
Bortles was released in 2018 after the Jags went 5-11.
He has played only 11 snaps since, all in a reserve role with the Rams in 2019 when he spent the entire season on LA’s roster. He was with Denver for much of last season before being re-signed by LA in late December as depth following an injury to Jared Goff.
And his time with the Rams has him well versed in elements of Waldron’s offense, and Seattle needing immediate depth means it makes sense to turn to someone with knowledge of the playbook.
Bortles signed with Green Bay in May but was cut on July 27. He has been a free agent since.
Seattle set to cut CB Tre Flowers
The Seahawks are also expected to soon waive Flowers, a source confirmed to The Seattle Times. The news was first reported by the NFL Network.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Flowers requested to be released in the wake of losing his starting job two weeks ago.
Flowers started the first three games of the season at right cornerback but was benched following a 30-17 loss to the Vikings and has played only on special teams the last two weeks.
Flowers was a fifth-round pick of the Seahawks out of Oklahoma State and converted from safety to cornerback. He was a full-time starter on the right side in 2018 and 2019.
Flowers was in the final year of his rookie contract, which paid a nonguaranteed base salary of $2.18 million. The Seahawks will now save roughly $1.576 million against the cap with his waiving. Flowers could be claimed by another team. If not, he will become a free agent.
The pending release of Flowers leaves Seattle with four cornerbacks on its roster in starters D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones and backups Bless Austin and John Reid.
However, rookie fourth-round pick Tre Brown returned to practice last week off IR and coach Pete Carroll on Monday said he would be competing to play this week. So, Seattle could just switch out Flowers for Brown.
Flowers started 40 games in four years with the Seahawks after being taken 146th overall in the 2018 draft.
Flowers lost his starting job in 2020 after the team acquired Quinton Dunbar in a trade. But due to injuries to Dunbar, Flowers ended up starting seven games before he also was injured and Reed took over the starting role on that side opposite Shaquill Griffin.
Flowers and Reed were set to battle for the right side in camp this year. But Flowers won the job in part because Reed missed much of camp with a hip injury. The Seahawks then decided to trade Ahkello Witherspoon, who had been expected to start on the left side, to the Steelers for a fifth-round pick in 2021 and move Reed to the left side.
But after the Vikings beat Seattle 30-17 with Kirk Cousins throwing for 323 yards, a defeat that dropped Seattle’s record to 1-2, the Seahawks revamped their cornerback spot and moved Reed back to the right side and inserted Jones on the left side.
After the Vikings game, Flowers told reporters that Seattle’s defensive struggles were “a schematic thing, I feel like. I’ve got my own questions to ask.”
Now, Flowers stands as another vivid testament to how Seattle’s offseason cornerback plan has gone anything but according to plan.
Flowers was one of 10 cornerbacks Seattle had on its roster when it played its first preseason game on Aug. 14 against the Raiders. Just three now remain — Reed, Brown and Gavin Heslop, who is on the practice squad.