Red Bryant Latest Seahawk Cap Casualty
Coming off the franchise's first ever Super Bowl victory, the Seattle Seahawks will have to move forward defending the title without two veteran players, as the team officially announced that WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant have been released.
With lucrative contract extensions coming for star players Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, the Seahawks have a multitude of tough decisions to make this offseason, and there could be more players joining Rice and Bryant on the free agent market as cap casualties in the coming days. Seattle has expressed interest in bringing back receiver Golden Tate and DE Michael Bennett through free agency, but both players will be seeking lofty salary increases and will certainly have interest from other teams. As a result, management will have to decide which players are expendable in an effort to create enough cap room to afford retaining Tate and/or Bennett.
Rice and Bryant quickly became the first two victims to receive their walking papers, and the moves do not come as a surprise. Both players have been rumored as potential cuts ever since Seattle's season culminated with bringing the Lombardi Trophy to the Pacific Northwest, and large contracts made the decisions pretty easy for GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. In the end, Seattle will save over $12 million against the salary cap with both contracts coming off the books.
Rice came to the Seahawks in 2011 as a free agent and received a five-year, $41 million contract to become Seattle's primary receiver. Injuries and inconsistent production limited him throughout his tenure with the team, as he missed 16-of-48 games during his three-year stint in Seattle while only catching 97 passes during that time. He tore his ACL against the St. Louis Rams in late October this past season and spent the remainder of the year on injured reserve, leaving little doubt about his future with the team. With Percy Harvin's cap number escalating above $13 million and the team trying to negotiate a deal for Tate to return, the Seahawks had no reason to keep the overpaid veteran.
As for Bryant, his loss will be tougher to swallow, especially if Seattle can't find a way to bring back free agent Tony McDaniel. Bryant has been a stout run defender and a locker room leader since coming to the Seahawks in 2008, but he didn't see near as much playing time late in the season thanks to the emergence of Cliff Avril and Bennett. With a $3 million roster bonus due in March, Seattle decided that the soon-to-be 30-year-old Bryant was expendable and may look to replace him in the draft in May.
With free agency quickly approaching, the Seahawks may not be finished releasing players. TE Zach Miller and DE Chris Clemons could be next in line to go, though Bryant's departure makes it less likely Clemons will be let go. If Seattle feels the need to create more cap space right now, Miller could be the odd man out thanks to his large contract and meager production. For now, everyone else would appear to be safe, but the Schneider-Carroll regime has been known for making bold moves. It'll be intriguing to see what decisions management makes as it attempts to keep this young team together for the long haul.