Seahawks Suddenly Cutting QB Sparks Concern Over Depth

Holton Ahlers

Getty Former Seahawks quarterback Holton Ahlers at Lumen Field on August 10, 2023.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback Holton Ahlers was not expected to make the 53-man roster, as Drew Lock is the clear backup for starter Geno Smith, but he appeared to be a lock as the team’s QB3, and was re-signed to the practice squad on Wednesday, August 30.

Therefore, it was a major surprise when the Seahawks again cut Ahlers on Thursday, August 31. Seattle released guard Greg Eiland and Ahlers in order to bring back linebacker Jon Rhattigan, and sign former Cincinnati Bengals guard Ben Brown and former Los Angeles Rams cornerback Robert Rochell.

While Seahawks fans were excited to have Rhattigan return, they were not happy to see Ahlers go. The former undrafted free agent out of Eastern Carolina shined during the preseason. He ranked as the No. 8 best overall rookie quarterback throughout three exhibition games, per SB Nation, completing 16-of-27 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Ahlers earned overall 72.9 QB rating.

There’s also immediate concern since the team no longer has a third-string quarterback. The Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, “Releasing Ahlers is obviously interesting as that leaves Seattle with just two QBs on its entire roster. Almost every team has a 3rd QB at least on the PS. Maybe Seattle has someone in mind….,” while a fan commented, “I don’t understand releasing Ahlers… they need a practice squad QB, what’s their thinking on this?”

However, The Athletic’s Mike Dugar suggested they may not add a third quarterback. He posted, “They’ll probably end up carrying one, but could also have drew run scout team. Geno used to.”

Ahlers, 23, finished his five-year career at ECU as the school’s all-time leader with 13,927 passing yards, 97 passing touchdowns (97), and total touchdowns (122), and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll was excited to snag him.

“He seems really confident in himself and he’s got some transitions to make because our style is different than what they played,” Carroll said of Ahlers in May, per AtoZ Sports. “They were coming up with plays off the sidelines all the time. No huddle and all that. But he’ll be fine with it. He’s making transitions… But he’s exciting because it’s kind of like the intangibles that you know are there because you’ve been successful for a long time at the position.”

Holton Ahlers Was ‘Remarkable’ Throughout the Preseason

Based on his preseason performance, Ahlers shouldn’t remain a free agent too long. SI’s Jacob Hare wrote, “Ahlers showcased a remarkable first impression last week during the Seahawks’ 24-13 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

“In that game, he exhibited his talents by rushing for 26 yards, completing all four pass attempts for 43 yards, and tossing a 30-yard touchdown to receiver Matt Landers that secured the win. Building upon his impressive performance from last week, Ahlers continued to deliver with another strong showing against the Cowboys. He threw for 61 yards and again displayed his mobility, rushing for 42 yards.”

“His performances in his first two NFL games have indicated his potential to successfully fulfill the role of a capable backup.”

Before the 6-foot-3, 227-pound quarterback was cut a second time, FieldGulls’ Diane Taylor was thrilled to see Ahlers return to the practice squad. Taylor wrote, “From what I saw, he played with confidence and enthusiasm, and he seems to possess the physical tools required to be a dynamic player. He will help run the scout team, and thanks to the new ‘third QB rule,’ he may be a gameday call-up in the event that the team needs to utilize an emergency passer.

“This is not a scenario anybody wants to see, but at least Ahlers looks like he would provide some excitement and keep defenses honest if called upon.”

The 16-Player Seahawks Practice Squad

With just nine days to go before the Seahawks’ season opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, September 10, Seattle’s practice squad consists of the following players:

Rhattigan, Brown, Easop Winston Jr, Levi Bell, Patrick O’Connell, Ty Okada, Matthew Gotel, Tyler Mabry, Matt Landers, Lance Boykin, Artie Burns, SaRodorick Thompson, Bryant Koback, Joey Hunt, and Cade Johnson.

If the Seahawks move to sign another quarterback, they will need to cut one of the aforementioned players.

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