Seahawks WR Keenan Reynolds Aiming for Breakthrough in 2019

After spending last season on Seattle’s practice squad, can the ex-Heisman finalist make a push for a final roster spot?

Anticipating the departure of franchise icon Doug Baldwin, the Seahawks took proactive measures by investing three selections on receivers during the 2019 NFL Draft, including second-round sensation D.K. Metcalf.

While Seattle has high hopes for the trio of rookies, however, coach Pete Carroll’s signature “always compete” mantra still applies. Making the team isn’t guaranteed, regardless of draft status, and several returning veterans may have something to say about who makes the final 53-man roster in September.

Among those who shined during the Seahawks offseason program, fourth-year receiver Keenan Reynolds turned heads this spring, positioning himself to make a legitimate run at a roster spot when the team reports for training camp next month.

When asked about his revamped receiving corps during this week’s mandatory minicamp, quarterback Russell Wilson was quick to point out Reynolds as one of the standouts, telling reporters he’s done “a tremendous job.”

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer offered a similar assessment during OTAs, saying, “There’s been a lot of guys in that [receiving] room who’ve stepped up. Keenan Reynolds is having a great camp.”

Reynolds, who starred at quarterback for Navy and emerged as a Heisman finalist in 2015, spent the vast majority of last season on Seattle’s practice squad. But after failing to see any game action during his first two years in the league while spending time on Baltimore and Washington’s practice squads, multiple injuries to Baldwin opened the door for brief promotions to the active roster, as he suited up twice in 2018.

Unsure of Doug Baldwin's status heading into the 2018 season, receiver Keenan Reynolds received extensive snaps working out of the slot in training camp and the preseason last August, which should bolster his chances of making the team this year.

Though he didn’t record any statistics, simply being active on game day was a breakthrough of sorts for the 24-year old Reynolds. With Baldwin out of the picture, this upcoming season may be his best chance yet to end his stay in practice squad purgatory and capture a permanent role on Seattle’s roster.

Remaining one of Seattle’s biggest question marks with training camp looming, the team must figure out who will replace Baldwin working from the slot. Star receiver Tyler Lockett expects to see extended work there, but Schottenheimer plans to continue moving him all over the formation to take advantage of his ability as a vertical threat on the outside.

Adding versatility to the group, third-year receiver David Moore as well as rookies Gary Jennings and John Ursua have also been taking reps out of the slot over the past month. But aside from Lockett, Reynolds may actually be the next-best option to take over Baldwin’s role, at least in the short term.

Signed to a one-year deal in May 2018, the quick 5-foot-10, 191-pound Reynolds received a large share of the snaps out of the slot during training camp and the preseason with Baldwin sidelined by a sore knee. He appeared in all four of Seattle’s exhibition games, catching four passes for 35 yards while also returning a couple of kicks on special teams.

Coming off a strong showing in camp with Baldwin’s status up in the air going into the regular season, there was plenty of chatter about Reynolds filling in for him until he returned. But once it became clear Baldwin would be ready to return for the opener, Seattle chose not to retain him and he found himself on yet another practice squad.

Now that Baldwin has hung up his cleats, that extra experience gained last year coupled with his special teams capabilities could go a long ways towards helping Reynolds survive roster cuts in a crowded receivers room and secure a spot with the Seahawks this time around.