Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gushed about the load of talent the team has as wide receiver this year in training camp.
"It’s exciting to see all the talent we have at the receiver position," Wilson said on Monday. "And it’s been the most talented group we’ve ever had here, in terms of just overall group from left to right. It’s been exciting to see guys making plays."
That wealth of talent apparently is leading the Seahawks to consider trading one of it's most veteran members.
Kearse has produced some of the most significant catches in franchise history. Kearse caught the go-ahead touchdowns in both NFC Championship victories against San Francisco and Green Bay. He caught a touchdown in Super Bowl XLVIII, bouncing off multiple Denver defenders in the process, and his juggling catch over Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl XLIX gave Seattle a chance to win the game in the final minute.
However, he is coming off a somewhat disappointing season. Kearse caught 41 passes for 510 yards and just one touchdown last year and was frequently flagged for offensive pass interference penalties. Kearse is asked to do the dirty work of setting legal picks for other receivers at times in Seattle's offense, but he drew penalties more often last year.
Nevertheless, Kearse has gained the trust of Wilson in their five seasons together and he's had a solid preseason, catching three passes for 59 yards last week against Kansas City.
"He looked good tonight," head coach Pete Carroll said. "He did a really good job. I thought the catch over the shoulder was a great throw, but it was better how he set it up and kind of lulled the guy to sleep, and then separated to make the catch right at the last moment. A really classy catch. He’s been playing really great."
But with a receiver group that may have at least eight competent options, Kearse may be the odd man out. Once a team's attempts to trade a player go public, it can tend to be more difficult for a deal to get done as opposing teams decided to wait for the player to be cut instead. That could be the situation with Kearse when all is said and done.
Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson are locks to make the roster. Third-round pick Amara Darboh has drawn praise from Carroll throughout camp, though he's only been able to play 18 snaps in Seattle's three preseason games. Tanner McEvoy, Kasen Williams, Kenny Lawler and J.D. McKissic (now playing running back) are returning veterans with potential but limited experience in regular season or postseason games. Seventh-round pick David Moore remains in the mix as well.
All of these pieces are fighting for six, maybe seven, spots at receiver. Confidence in those pieces could be what leads Seattle to feel comfortable in moving on from Kearse, which would save them $3.6 million against the salary cap over the next two seasons via OverTheCap.com. He signed a three-year deal with Seattle
Kearse signed with Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2012. After spending time on the practice squad, Kearse was signed to the active roster and appeared in seven games as a rookie. By his third season, Kearse had become a starter for the Seahawks. He has started 51 games over five seasons for Seattle and caught 153 passes for 2,109 yards with 11 touchdowns.
Photo Credit: GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 03: Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse #15 of the Seattle Seahawks straight-arms cornerback Jerraud Powers #25 of the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Seahawks defeated the Cardinals 36-6. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)