Corbin Smith

Seahawks Made Right Move With Bowie

Created on Aug. 04, 2014 10:06 AM EST

It’s never easy giving up on a talented young player with upside, especially one who started eight games as a rookie and showed promise at two different positions. In the case of offensive tackle Michael Bowie, however, I understand why the Seattle Seahawks were willing to risk losing him to another team by waiving him prior to first cuts in training camp.

From an on-field stance, Seattle lost a powerful, punishing run blocker who provided stability for an offensive line ravaged by injuries last season. Bowie, who stands 6’5 and weighs in at 330 pounds, struggled at times in pass protection as a rookie, but he adapted well as a replacement for injured starter
Breno Giacomini and played quite well down the stretch for the Seahawks. His strong late-season performance pushed him into the starting lineup at guard against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round, and the coaching staff genuinely seemed ecstatic about his progress at the time.

When Giacomini left to join the
New York Jets as a free agent, Bowie was expected to take over as the full-time starter at right tackle. Seattle then invested a second round draft choice on tackle Justin Britt out of Missouri, and offensive line coach Tom Cable stated that Bowie and Britt would compete in training camp for the starting honors. While many still considered Bowie the favorite, there were signs throughout the organization that indicated the team had grown frustrated with him.

In mid-June, Cable spoke at
great length about Bowie and fellow tackle Alvin Bailey showing up to offseason workouts out of shape.

"It's something that every young linemen goes through that first year.” Cable told Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, adding, “They are used to Thanksgiving and then kind of being at the end of their college season and workings towards a bowl game and that's all they really have left. And that's when we are just kicking it into gear. And I think they really get fatigued, those big kids.”

Cable hoped that Bowie and Bailey would both get the message, and at the time of that interview, he seemed optimistic they would catch up. While Bailey arrived at training camp in optimum shape and has played at a high level so far, Bowie tweaked his shoulder during the first practice and didn’t play at all last week before the team announced he would need surgery. Could his injury have resulted from poor conditioning this offseason? We may never know if that was the case, but the team quickly got fed up with the situation.

Instead of waiting until first roster cuts to place him on injured reserve, the team opted to waive him on Saturday with hopes he would go unclaimed and revert to injured reserve. The team could have protected him by waiting a short while longer so that he could be eligible for injured reserve, but this decision speaks volumes on how the team valued him long-term at this point. If the Seahawks viewed Bowie as part of the future along the offensive line, they never would have made such a gamble on the waiver wire.

Seattle has used similar tactics before with
Anthony McCoy and Jesse Williams, who both went unclaimed through waivers last season and again last week before being placed on season-ending injured reserve. Neither of those players would have started this year, and losing either one to a different team wouldn’t have been a significant blow to the roster. There’s no way Seattle would ever risk losing a quality player who was considered a big part of future plans through waivers like this, leaving me to wonder what else happened behind the scenes with Bowie.

Once deemed a worthy long-term solution at right tackle, Bowie now finds himself facing an uncertain future as a member of the
Cleveland Browns. If he would have shown up to offseason workouts in great shape as expected, the Seahawks most likely would have given him every opportunity to win the right tackle job. While that may have still been the case prior to suffering his shoulder injury, reports implied Seattle’s coaching staff had grown sour on him due to work ethic issues. As Carroll indicated in an interview with Peter King of in March, that simply doesn’t fly with his Seahawks.

“If a guy’s not having the best offseason of his life, he’s going to get beat out, I think. That’s kind of the way we roll.”

I still believe Bowie can be a very successful player in this league and hopefully he uses this as a wake-up call once he returns to the field. As for Seattle, they will be fine without him, as recently-signed veteran
Eric Winston should be a great mentor for Britt as he adjusts to playing at the professional level. If anything else positive can be spun from this situation, it’s a simple reminder to all players on Seattle’s current roster that their jobs are always on the line. Nothing will be given and nothing will be guaranteed.
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