Insider trading? McKissic to Seahawks good for conspiracy theorists

It’s easy to wonder, especially at this time of year, what the Seahawks are up to after adding J.D. McKissic to their roster a few weeks ago. Did they scoop him after the Falcons waived him last month to pick the wide receiver’s brain ahead of a possible playoff rematch against Atlanta?

Has Seattle gained some sort of intel from McKissic, whom they’re paying nearly four times more than the Falcons were, that might help them scheme Atlanta ahead of Saturday’s playoff matchup in the Georgia Dome?

Dwight Freeney has seen a lot in 15 NFL seasons, but he seriously doubts the Falcons have lost any truly valuable secrets through McKissic.

“It could be small things … but we understand who they have as well,” Freeney said. “So it’s kind of like if it’s something that major, we probably have changed those types of things over time.”

The Seahawks (11-5-1) had a good handle on the Falcons early in the game Oct. 16 as they built a 17-3 halftime lead at CenturyLink Field. The second half was different. The Falcons charged to a 24-17 lead with a huge third quarter before falling 26-24.

McKissic knows things.

Undrafted last spring out of Arkansas State, where the 5-foot-10, 187-pound wide receiver caught 289 passes for 2,838 yards and 11 touchdowns, he joined the Falcons as a free agent. In breaking off a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first game of preseason, he showed promise.

Odds of him making the roster were stacked, though, by the Falcons’ offseason additions of wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Aldrick Robinson, not to mention the return of Julio Jones, Justin Hardy, Nick Williams and Eric Weems from last season.

McKissic was let go in final cuts before the regular season, on Sept. 3, and his chances of returning — at least to the 53-man roster — were further damaged when the Falcons claimed wide receiver Taylor Gabriel on Sept. 4 after Cleveland waived him.

Still, Atlanta signed McKissic to the practice squad the same day. The Falcons signed him to the active squad before the 14th game, against San Francisco.

Inactive for that one, McKissic was waived a day later, and the Falcons may have hoped to re-sign him to the practice squad. Instead, the Seahawks claimed him off waivers.

That ensured the young player a pro-rated NFL rookie-minimum salary of $450,000, or $26,470 per week as opposed to the NFL practice squad minimum of $6,900 per week.

If Falcons coach Dan Quinn is big on conspiracy, he isn’t showing it.

He doesn’t seem worried that a former player would share the habits of the Falcons’ offense, like preferred check-downs against specific defensive looks in certain down-and-distance situations.

“No. I recognize that one. And that question for years, it’s a good one to be asked … how does it change, and what can they learn and you not know?” Quinn said. “So we don’t go down that road in terms of what they’ll share or not share or use or not use.”

The Seahawks may not be able to learn much, if anything, from recently signed return man Devin Hester, whom the Falcons released before the season. He’s been nowhere near the Falcons’ high-powered offense this season as coordinator Kyle Shanahan, quarterback Matt Ryan and the gang has built habits.

McKissic has fresher knowledge, but Gabriel seemed bemused by questions of possible insider trading.

“I’m not sure, man. I’m kind of curious to see what DQ says,” the young receiver said, referring to the head coach. “That’s more of a DQ answer.”

McKissic has been useful to the Seahawks, who list him as a running back (he’s wearing No. 30).

He was inactive for his first game and made his NFL debut in the regular-season finale, picking up up a 2-yard carry and two receptions for 16 yards. He added a 2-yard carry in Seattle’s playoff win over Detroit.

Freeney doesn’t expect McKissic to tilt Saturday’s game in any meaningful way.

“There might be some things (he) could tell you that can’t be changed, but that’s probably stuff you see on film every day,” Freeney said. “It’s not going to be like, ‘Oh my God; that’s what they do?’ You see evidence of that in 16 regular-season games.”