Fresh off their 43-8 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seattle Seahawks made two roster moves that will free up some serious cap space, releasing defensive lineman Red Bryant and receiver Sidney Rice. The team announced the releases in a Friday afternoon statement.
"We want to thank both Red and Sidney for their effort, commitment and contribution to the Seattle Seahawks over the last few years," general manager John Schneider said. "These are extremely tough decisions, but we wanted to give them a head start on free agency. We wish them well in the future."
Bryant's was the more surprising release, though it had been rumored for some time. He was going to present an $8.5 million cap hit in 2014 with his $4.5 million in base salary, $1 million on prorated bonus and $3 million roster bonus he would have received were he on the roster at the start of the league year in March. Bryant signed a five-year, $35 million contract extension in 2012. Selected in the fourth round of the 2008 draft by former general manager Tim Ruskell, Bryant was a part-time player at best until new head coach Pete Carroll came aboard in 2010, and then-line coach and current defensive coordinator Dan Quinn suggested moving Bryant from defensive tackle to run-stopping defensive end. Which was an interesting switch for a guy standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 330 pounds at his very lightest, but it worked. From 2010 through '13, he started 54 games at end and became a key cog in the league's best defense.
But Bryant's role had diminished recently -- he played 724 snaps in 2011, 734 snaps in '12 and 561 snaps in '13. And though he had been a force against the run early in his time as an end, that dissipated to a degree as seasons went on and conditioning became a bit of an issue. Bryant was talking with the Patriots before he signed his new contract, and he could be an appealing situational player for any hybrid defensive front.
Rice was released with a "failed physical" designation, which seems appropriate given his injury-rich history with the team. The former Minnesota Vikings receiver was signed to a five-year, $41 million deal in June 2011, and the hope was that he would become the team's primary receiving threat. But Rice missed 17 possible regular-season starts in three years with a variety of injuries, and was lost for the 2013 season with a knee injury in October. Rice, for his part, had a $9.7 million cap hit on the books for 2014 -- $8.5 million in base salary and $1.2 million in prorated bonus. Seattle could free up further cap space by releasing defensive end Chris Clemons ($9,666,668 cap hit in 2014) and tight end Zach Miller ($7 million cap hit). The two moves made Friday free up $12.8 million for 2014.