The Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is known for being one of the most optimistic coaches in the NFL, so when he announced that Jaxon Smith-Njigba would only be out three to four weeks after undergoing surgery for a broken bone in his wrist, there was still worry he’d start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport delivered a major update on the Seahawks 2023 first-round pick on Monday, August 28.
Rapoport posted, “Smith-Njigba, who recently underwent surgery to repair a small broken bone in his wrist, is expected to begin the season on the active roster, source said. No word yet on his availability for W1, but avoiding IR/designated to return is a sign he’ll play soon.”
While it seems highly unlikely Smith-Njigba will suit up when the Seahawks host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, September 10, by avoiding the PUP list, it means Seattle expects him to return within the next four weeks, ahead of their bye in Week 5.
This is excellent news considering that Smith-Njigba, who signed a four-year, $14.4 million rookie contract with the Seahawks after becoming their No. 20 overall pick this year, has done nothing but live up to the hype as an elite first-rounder throughout training camp.
Smith-Njiga is projected to start alongside Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, forming one of the scariest wide receiver trios in the NFL. Once the 21-year-old is ready to go, quarterback Geno Smith and the Seahawks offense will get a major boost.
Pete Carroll Said Jaxon Smith-Njigba Is Mentally ‘Ready’ to Return
Following the Seahawks’ final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Carroll revealed Smith-Njigba was already back in Seattle. The rookie injured his wrist after making a 48-yard catch and getting tackled at the one-yard line during the Seahawks preseason win over the Dallas Cowboys on August 19. The Ohio State alum traveled to Philadelphia to see a specialist before getting surgery on August 22.
“He came back to the building and he was playing with the football,” Carroll said during the post-game press conference on Saturday, August 26.
“He was ready. He was talking like he is OK. His attitude is great. They might say it is going to be 10 days or something. He wants to get going and get running and all of that so we will see how that works out. He is the kind of kid that we will have to hold back more than anything. I was really pleased about it.”
Carroll previously told reporters on August 24 that the surgery was successful. “I haven’t heard any word since the surgery, other than what they initially said, that everything went great,” Carroll said. “They showed us the pictures and all that kinda stuff. So, we saw that and it’s an elaborate surgery for such a small crack in the area, but it’s gonna be so safe. So we’re really pleased with it. So is he.”
How Many Wide Receivers Will Make the 53-Man Roster?
Smith-Njigba has cemented his role on the active roster, along with veterans Metcalf and Lockett. Easop Winston Jr. should be a lock at WR4, but with Dee Eskridge out for six weeks (suspension) and Dareke Young still dealing with a hip/groin injury, Jake Bobo, the former undrafted rookie out of UCLA, has a solid chance to make the team.
SI’s Corbin K. Smith projects Cody Thompson, Cade Johnson, Matt Landers, and Tyjon Lindsey hitting the practice squad while Young goes to IR. Young “will need a procedure to repair a lingering hip injury, creating major questions at the position beyond the dynamic duo out of the gate,” Smith wrote.
However, The Athletic’s Mike Dugar predicts the Seahawks will have seven receivers on the active roster, with both Young and Thompson making the active roster.
Final cuts are due by 4:00 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, August 29.