RENTON (AP) — The Seattle Seahawks entered preparations for their regular season opener looking to fill a sudden void at tight end.
The surprising release of Kellen Winslow on Saturday leaves Seattle adapting to the loss of a proven pass catching option at a position where they struggled to find production a season ago. Seahawks tight ends combined to catch just 44 passes in 2011. Winslow had caught at least 66 in five of his last six seasons.
The Seahawks acquired Winslow in a trade with Tampa Bay in May, and he appeared set to become a big contributor. Seattle had used Winslow all over the field throughout training camp, lining him up anywhere from an inline position to split out wide.
“I think we still have that capability to be able to do that,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “You can really put any of those guys out there — obviously some would be better than others — but really all of our guys know those positions.”
Winslow had a base salary of $3.3 million for the 2012 season, which would have been fully guaranteed if he was on the opening day roster. The financial commitment may have been a determining factor in letting Winslow go.
In Winslow’s place, Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy and newly signed Evan Moore will have to fill the void. Moore signed with the Seahawks on Sunday after being released Friday by Cleveland.
Miller was signed to a lucrative five-year, $34 million deal last year. He was limited to just 25 catches in 2011, frequently serving as an extra blocker for a patchwork offensive line.
More will be asked from the group as the Seahawks look to take another step and challenge for a division title.
“We’re going to move forward. We’ve got a good tight end crew and I’m excited about this season,” Miller said.
Moore, a former college receiver at Stanford, caught 34 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns last year for the Browns. He will likely be asked to fill the pass catching hole left by Winslow’s departure.
“I did a lot of that in Cleveland,” Moore said. “If that’s a role I can fill here, I’d be happy to do that if that’s part of the deal.”
Notes: The team rounded out their practice squad with the additions of WR Jermaine Kearse and OL/DT Edawn Coughman and the release of TE Sean McGrath. … WR Golden Tate (knee) did not practice Monday after being tackled awkwardly in the team’s final preseason last Thursday. … G James Carpenter practiced for the first time since being activated from the physically unable to perform list Friday. He suffered an ACL injury during a practice last November.