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Seahawks Part Ways With Chris Clemons

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The Seattle Seahawks released popular defensive end Chris Clemons today, ending his four year tenure with the team. He recorded 38 sacks in his four seasons in Seattle and played a key role in helping the team win Super Bowl XLVIII in February. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
The Seattle Seahawks released popular defensive end Chris Clemons today, ending his four year tenure with the team. He recorded 38 sacks in his four seasons in Seattle and played a key role in helping the team win Super Bowl XLVIII in February. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

In a much-anticipated move, the Seattle Seahawks have released veteran DE Chris Clemons. The transaction was initially reported by Albert Breer of NFL Network, and the 32-year-old Clemons will now join a crowded free agent market for aging defensive linemen.

Many speculated that Clemons would be the next man to be let go if the Seahawks had to create more cap space. With the team showing significant interest in free agents Jason Hatcher, Jared Allen and Jermichael Finley, as well as trying to retain receiver Golden Tate, this move had to be made in an effort to create payroll flexibility. Seattle will save $7.5 million with Clemons now off of the books, and should be able to divert money elsewhere.

A long-time fan favorite in Seattle, Clemons racked up 33.5 sacks during his first three seasons with the Seahawks, but he suffered a torn ACL in the Divisional Round against the Washington Redskins in January 2013. He came back after missing only two regular season games this past season, but never regained his pre-injury form, finishing with only 4.5 sacks in 14 games. Strong play in the playoffs showed that he can still get the job done, but his large cap number and age made him expendable.

With his production taking a major dip and the team handing out a lucrative contract to fellow DE Michael Bennett, the Seahawks had no choice but to release the popular player. Clemons should have no issue finding a new team, and Gus Bradley's Jacksonville Jaguars seem like a prime destination for him to continue his career. Former Seahawk Red Bryant already signed with the Jaguars, and free agent corner Walter Thurmond is visiting with the team today. Bradley served as Seattle's defensive coordinator prior to taking the Jaguars coaching position last year, and he runs the same defensive schemes, making Jacksonville an ideal landing spot for Clemons.

As for Seattle, Hatcher and Finley were both expected for visits today, while Allen has been linked to the Seahawks by various media outlets. Hatcher had a career-high 11.5 sacks for the Dallas Cowboys last year, and provides the type of versatility that Pete Carroll loves to have along the defensive line, making him a solid replacement candidate for Clemons. Allen has had a storied career that should lead to Hall-of-Fame consideration when he hangs up his cleats, and would be a great addition both on the field and in the locker room. Finley will have to show he has recovered fully from neck fusion surgery after a scary season-ending injury with the Green Bay Packers last season. If he's recovered and ready to play football again, he could be an interesting player to bring on board with a one-year, incentive-based contract.