The Seattle Seahawks had already released receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant in cap-cutting moves to prepare for the 2014 free agency wave and re-signed defensive lineman Michael Bennett with some of that money. And now, in a fairly predictable move, general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll have released defensive end Chris Clemons, according to Albert Breer of NFL Network.
The move comes after a 2013 season in which Clemons was relegated to a situational role and his impact on the defense diminished due to age (32) and various injuries. He had at least 11 sacks in every season for Seattle from 2010 through 2012 and was one of the Carroll/Schneider regime's smartest early pickups -- they traded a fourth-round pick and end Darryl Tapp to the Philadelphia Eagles for his services. But Clemons played in just 14 games last year, starting 11, and racked up just 4.5 quarterback takedowns. He suffered a torn ACL in the 2012 playoffs and was never quite the same.
Seattle signed Clemons to a new contract in 2012, and the financial repercussions were severe for 2014 -- his release frees up over $7 million in cap space for a Seahawks team looking to make more moves to fortify its already formidable defensive line, and he would have counted for $9.667 million on the 2014 cap had Seattle kept him.
So, with Clemons out of the picture, the Seahawks have cast a wide net and arranged talks with two other high-profile veterans -- former Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and ex-Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. Both are free agents, and Allen is set to talk to the Bears as well. Hatcher will speak with several teams. Both Allen and Hatcher are on the wrong side of 30, but each player still has quite a bit left in the tank. Allen registered 11.5 sacks, 18 quarterback hits and 34 quarterback hurries for Minnesota last season, while Hatcher continued his consistently underrated ability to get pressure through inside gaps with 11 sacks, seven hits and 33 hurries.