While trimming down to their initial 53-man roster last Saturday, the Seahawks made a number of surprising moves jettisoning veterans such as safety DeShawn Shead and cornerback Jamar Taylor.
Seattle may not have made a more shocking decision than releasing Jaron Brown, who had a sensational offseason and had been projected to be the team’s No. 2 receiver behind Tyler Lockett. With three rookie receivers on the roster, he was expected to play an expanded role in the aerial attack and bring much-needed experience to the position.
In what turned out to be little more than a procedural move, the Seahawks let Brown go with the intention of quickly re-bringing him back once they placed tight end Ed Dickson on injured reserve and finalized a trade with the Texans for Jadeveon Clowney. Those two moves would create two additional roster spots.
But as long as Brown remained unsigned, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer admitted that he felt a bit uneasy while awaiting confirmation on his return to Seattle.
“In today’s day and age, how you build rosters and I think the way I feel about Jaron I just trust him. I think he’s a really good player, I have a great relationship with him.” Schottenheimer said. “I was nervous, but then I was the first one I think, if not the first or second to hug him when he came back in the building. He’s going to have a great year.”
Signed as a free agent before the 2018 season, Brown caught only 14 passes in his first season as a Seahawk. But he made the most of his limited opportunities, quickly emerging as a red zone threat with five touchdown receptions.
And as Schottenheimer and coach Pete Carroll have noted on numerous occasions, Brown is a reliable blocker in the run game and contribute on special teams, making him a well-rounded player whose importance don’t always show up in the box score.
“Again, just everything he does for us is unquestionable.” Schottenheimer said. “You can’t always show up in the stat column, but there’s things he does for us that we, as a staff, and other players notice.”
Now that Doug Baldwin has unofficially retired, the previously underutilized Brown should be in line for a significant uptick in targets from quarterback Russell Wilson, especially in Seattle’s season opener against Cincinnati.
The Seahawks will be without David Moore, who is recovering from a broken humerus bone, and second-round selection DK Metcalf may be on a pitch count after missing the final three preseason games following knee surgery. In addition, fellow rookies John Ursua and Gary Jennings will be making their NFL regular season debuts.
As the youngsters adjust to playing at the next level and work through growing pains, Seattle will rely on Brown’s experience, reliability, and chemistry with Wilson to help keep the passing game humming during the early stages of the season.
Relieved the trustworthy veteran wasn’t scooped up by another team, look for Schottenheimer to dial up a few pass plays early on Sunday aiming to get the ball into Brown’s hands against a Bengals squad that ranked dead-last in pass defense in 2018.