Cutting Kellen Winslow certainly didn't help Seattle in Arizona
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Russell Wilson attempted five passes in the final minute of the game, every one of them inside the Cardinals' 20.
Those five passes were aimed at a total of four different players, none of them named Kellen Winslow. He's not on the team anymore, you know. The Seahawks released him eight days before the regular season, replacing him with a younger, healthier player and saving $2 million in the process.
While it would be too simple-minded to chalk a four-point defeat up to any single player who appeared in the game - let alone one who didn't - it would be naive to assume that Winslow wouldn't have made a difference down the stretch in this game.
What if Winslow was on the field for that final series and those final plays? He is one of the best pass-catching tight ends of this generation as only Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez caught more balls the previous five seasons.
And throughout training camp, Winslow sure looked like he figured prominently into Seattle's plans when they used two tight ends. Winslow is as tough a matchup for defensive backs like Earl Thomas as he is for linebackers like K.J. Wright.
The decision to release Winslow was a combination of factors, chief among them his refusal to take a paycut from the $3.3 million he was scheduled to earn. Also, the emergence of Anthony McCoy factored into that as he led Seattle in receiving in the exhibition games, and the availability of Evan Moore, who was considered someone capable of filling that spot as the receiving tight end.
Winslow's knee was a concern, going forward, even though he practiced and played more in August than Seattle expected.
Ultimately, Seattle decided paying $3.3 million for one season of Winslow was less appealing than clearing that money, getting a younger, healthier player who might produce more for the team going forward.
Seattle got three catches from its trio of tight ends on Sunday, all by starter Zach Miller. McCoy was targeted once, and Moore -whom Seattle signed to replaced Winslow on the roster - was on the field for exactly one play.
And when 4 yards separated Seattle from a victory, it didn't have Winslow - someone who had spent the past four months learning Seattle's system - on the field.
Seattle's decision was about more than just one game, and the Seahawks' move could very well pay off in the long run. But in the final minute of a game in which Seattle was one play away from victory, it was hard to look out on the field and not think that Winslow might have been able to help.