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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

September 4, 2012 at 6:28 AM

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Is there a catch to Seahawks' release of Kellen Winslow?

Seahawks say they have plenty of versatility at tight end
By Danny O'Neil | The Seattle Times

It was only two weeks ago that I was wondering how the Seahawks were going to shoehorn all these receivers into this run-first offense.

They had Terrell Owens, who caught more than 70 passes in 2010, and Braylon Edwards who caught 50 passes for a playoff team that same season. They had Kellen Winslow who caught more than 60 passes in five of the previous six seasons. They had Zach Miller who had caught 40 or more passes in his first four NFL seasons, Sidney Rice who caught more than 80 passes in 2009 and was projected to be the No. 1 receiver if healthy, and Doug Baldwin who led Seattle with 51 receptions last year.

And now?

I wonder if there's enough offense for a rookie quarterback to improve on a team that ranked No. 28 in the NFL in yards gained last year.

It's kind of funny, actually, to think that a team could go from having too many to not enough targets with exactly two roster moves. After all, the Seahawks acquired Owens and Winslow on the premise that they were not risking much. If anything went sideways, they could always cut them. And that's just what Seattle did, and while the departure of Owens was not all that shocking considering he dropped as many passes as he caught in his two exhibition games, the release of Winslow was an out-of-the-blue shock.

At least it was for anyone who has been watching practice. He was very involved with what Seattle was doing on offense. He was the receiving specialist in Seattle's two tight-end sets, and someone who gave Seattle's defense fits in practice. He is big enough to give defensive backs problems in coverage, and too precise a receiver to be covered by a linebacker.

There was some thought he might end up leading the Seahawks in receptions in 2012, and now he's cut because Seattle felt tight end Evan Moore with 62 career receptions is an upgrade? Something about that equation will make you scratch your head until it bleeds.

Maybe Anthony McCoy has progressed enough this August that he is past that brutal case of the dropsies that plagued him his first two years in the league. Maybe Miller's production last season was an aberration and he's going to catch 60-plus passes like he did in Oakland. And maybe, just maybe, Seattle let go a potential mainstay of the passing game by releasing Winslow.

Throw in the fact that Golden Tate suffered a knee injury in the exhibition finale, and Seattle's receiving rotation is a great big uncertainty going into the season opener.

Two weeks ago, I looked at the roster and wondered how the Seahawks were going to keep everyone happy. Now, I look at it and wonder if Doug Baldwin is going to be ready to contribute after dealing with a hamstring injury in August, if Rice can hold up and whether Edwards is ready to start at split end.

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