By Brady Henderson
Michael Robinson has been an adept lead blocker, a special teams captain and a vocal presence for the Seahawks, but his future in Seattle became less certain when the team drafted an alternative in Spencer Ware.
That was among the subjects discussed when Mike Sando of ESPN.com and Eric Williams of The News Tribune joined "Brock and Danny" on Monday to wrap up the Seahawks' rookie minicamp.
Robinson has done it all as Seattle's Swiss Army Knife since the team signed him at the end of the 2010 training camp. But he's 30 years old, has a salary that is scheduled to count $2.5 million against the 2013 cap and plays a position that requires him to run headlong into opposing linebackers, naturally raising questions about longevity.
NFL teams are constantly looking for younger and cheaper alternatives, and that's what Ware represents. As a sixth-round pick, Ware's salary is slotted at roughly $400,000 for his rookie season, significantly less than Robinson's. He was primarily a halfback at LSU, but the Seahawks' plan is to convert him to fullback and occasionally take advantage of his ability to carry the ball.
Coach Pete Carroll conceded that it will be tough to keep two fullbacks on the roster, especially if Ware doesn't demonstrate an ability to play special teams.
|Height/Weight:||5-10, 229 lbs.|
|Drafted:||Round 6, 194 overall|
|Notable:||Played OF on LSU's baseball team for part of the 2011 season.|
O'Neil noted that Seattle has an open role in the backfield after releasing Leon Washington, who saw some time as the third-down back last season. While Christine Michael showed good hands during Seattle's rookie minicamp, Carroll has said the second-round pick needs to improve his pass-blocking, an deficiency that could preclude him from a third-down role. That would leave Ware and Robert Turbin as the most viable options.
The Seahawks are also experimenting with defensive ends Bruce Irvin and Cliff Avril at outside linebacker, and Sando wondered whether the flexibility in their front seven would allow them to keep one fewer player at either of those positions. That would create an extra roster spot, potentially allowing Seattle to keep two fullbacks who have different body types and perhaps could be used in different ways.
If not, it would create a difficult decision assuming Ware shows he's worth keeping around.
"Would you be willing as a coaching staff to move on from a guy who really is important to the team?" Sando said of Robinson. "I think he's a good player and a good leader, has a good rapport with (Marshawn) Lynch. It's just a really interesting pick that way. I'm not sure if he's (Ware) exclusive to Robinson, but it kind of feels like he is."
Williams doesn't disagree with that either-or premise, but he doesn't see Robinson being the odd-man-out.
"What he does with his ability to read the opening of the holes as a fullback, his ability to play special teams and his ability as one of the vocal leaders on this team, I don't think that can really be replaced by a sixth-round draft pick who hasn't played fullback since his freshman year," Williams said." So I think we really have to kind of pump our brakes on Spencer Ware being able to replace Michael Robinson at this point."