Seahawks trade Nick Vannett to Steelers, re-sign Luke Willson

Seattle Seahawks v Carolina Panthers

RENTON -- The Seahawks were busy shuffling their roster over the last 24 hours.

The team traded fourth-year tight end Nick Vannett to the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round draft pick that had previously belonged to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Steelers received the pick in exchange for quarterback Josh Dobbs following the Week 1 injury to Nick Foles.

"Thank you Seattle!" Vannett wrote in a tweet following the trade. "You welcomed in a kid from Ohio with open arms and showed nothing but the best support from day 1. It’s been an honor to wear the blue and green the last few years. No feelings but love and gratitude for the Seahawk organization and the city of Seattle!"

Carroll said the Steelers had been pursuing Vannett for a while. Starting tight end Vance McDonald has been dealing with a sprained shoulder and reserve tight end Xavier Grimble was placed on injured reserve due to a calf injury.

"They were after it for some time and they just stayed with it. John [Schneider] finally made it happen," Carroll said.

With Vannett now out, the Seahawks elected to bring back Luke Willson, who spent five years with Seattle after being a fifth-round pick in 2013.

"Luke Willson is coming back," Carroll said. "With the change that happened, how fortunate could we be to get a guy that we love and knows our program. Just a lifeblood, energy guy in the program as well and a really good ball player. We made a switch. We got a chance to get Luke back in it. We’re fortunate there.”

Willson spent the first five seasons of his career with the Seahawks after being a fifth-round pick out of Rice in 2013. Willson appeared in 72 games for Seattle over that span with 37 starts. He caught 89 passes for 1,129 yards and 11 touchdowns during his five years in Seattle.

Willson spent last season with the Detroit Lions, catching just 13 passes for 87 yards in 14 games. He signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason before being released at the end of training camp. Willson had been on his way to the airport in San Francisco on Tuesday to head for a workout with another team when his agent called to inform him of the possibility with Seattle.

"We were boarding," Willson said. "I got the call from my agent so I walked over two terminals and flew to Seattle instead.

"It wasn’t that dramatic, I got the call and thought, ‘Ok, I’ll just head to the other terminal then.' I had another hour to spare.”

Willson had workouts with a few different teams since his release from the Raiders at the start of the month but nothing came to fruition. Now he's excited the opportunity presented itself to head back to Seattle.

"It was one of those things where I was kind of flying in and out to different places for a bit," Willson said. "It’s weird when things become a numbers game, and you don’t really know who to believe. Is it really a numbers game, or is that just what everybody says? So, it was a bit strange. Got hit with a couple of pump fakes which were a little hard to handle, but I’m here now. It kind of all really worked out and I’m pretty excited.”

The Seahawks elected to bring Willson back instead of promoting Jacob Hollister from their practice squad as Willson allows them to keep their offensive plans the same. Hollister is better suited as a receiving-first option while Willson and Vannett are more well-rounded options at the tight end spot.

"We didn’t want to skip a beat if we thought we were going to do something (with Vannett)," Carroll said. "We thought this would be a way to do that. We’re not changing anything in what we do by this move. Jacob’s got really good stuff and we like him and all that. His time is coming.”

Additionally, the team reportedly promoted safety Adrian Colbert from their practice squad, according to Joe Fann of NBC Sports Northwest.

“We’ve had our eye on him for a couple years and this was a great job by John [Schneider] and Nolan [Teasley] and the guys that kept track of him to get him in the program," Carroll said of Colbert's addition to the practice squad last week. "We really think he’s got great potential. He’s really fast, he’s really tough. He played at, finished his career at Miami, transferring in. We just picked him up a long time ago. He’s just one of those guys to me that demonstrates the kind of energy that we really like when we play. He loves to run and hit now. He’s really fast, running four-threes. He’s 211 pounds yesterday. Big kid. Strong kid. He’s kind of spirit about him, too. He kind of fired me up.”

Colbert's promotions comes as other teams were reportedly interested in adding him to their active rosters. Seattle elected to make that move first to keep Colbert in Seattle instead.

That move appears to have come at the expense of rookie wide receiver Gary Jennings, who was a fourth-round pick in this spring's NFL Draft. Jennings had been inactive for each of the team's first three regular season games and didn't appear to have a path to change that any time in the near future. Even with Jennings' release, the Seahawks are still carrying six receivers on their active roster. David Moore's return to full strength also left Jennings even further down the depth chart.

Jennings was not at practice with the team on Wednesday as they appeared to have a full roster of players otherwise. The team had two new practice squad additions taking part in practice on Wednesday, defensive end Malik Carney and cornerback Linden Stephens. Carney takes the place of defensive end Jachai Polite, who was released on Monday. Stephens would, theoretically, take the spot of Colbert following his promotion to the active roster. However, the team would not confirm anything in regards to Jennings' status as of Wednesday afternoon.

Adam Schefter of finally reported Wednesday afternoon that Jennings had officially been waived by the team, confirming the most logical outcome.

Jennings becomes was of Seattle's highest draft picks to be released during his first season with the team. Fourth-round wide receiver Chris Harper was the only pick from the first four rounds to never spend time with the team during the regular season. He was waived at the end of training camp in 2013 and not brought back to the practice squad. Tackle Terry Poole, also a fourth-round pick, was waived but spent time on the team's practice squad. Defensive end E.J. Wilson appeared in two games during his rookie season in 2010 before he was released that November.\

Injury Updates:

-- Left tackle Duane Brown did not practice on Wednesday but is expected to be OK after a biceps issue surfaced late in Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

"We’re going to rest him for a day and see how it goes," Carroll said. "He’s a little sore but it’s not serious injury at this point. It’s not the kind of damage or anything that we have to be concerned about. We just have to get him ready for the game. We’ll see how he does.”

-- Running back Rashaad Penny also did not practice after Carroll had indicated earlier in the day he would. However, practice designations usually only refer to team periods of practice so he may have participated in warmups and such before sitting out latter sessions.

-- Safety Tedric Thompson was a full participant in practice after missing the last two games with a strained hamstring.

"He’ll be a little bit limited, but we’ll just go one day at a time and see how he progresses," Carroll said.

-- Defensive end Quinton Jefferson (hip) and cornerback Neiko Thorpe (hamstring) did not practice. Defensive tackle Poona Ford (calf), cornerback Tre Flowers (ankle) and center/guard Ethan Pocic (back) were limited with injuries that were an issue last week as well. New additions to the report were a back injury for defensive end Ziggy Ansah that kept him limited and a quadriceps issue for running back Travis Homer that limited him as well.

Injury Report:

Photo Credit: CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 25: Nick Vannett #81 of the Seattle Seahawks makes a catch against the Carolina Panthers during the first half of their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 25, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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