Following much speculation this offseason, the Seahawks have released a long-time starter to open up much-needed salary cap space.
As originally reported by Aaron Fentress of the Athletic, Seattle has released veteran center Justin Britt, who had one year remaining on his current contract. The team has yet to announce an official move, but the 29-year old appeared to bid farewell on Instagram.
Britt's release marks the second major move along the offensive line made by the Seahawks after the draft, as guard D.J. Fluker announced earlier on Sunday that he had been released by the team.
Originally drafted in the second round out of Missouri in 2014, Britt found his way into the starting lineup at right tackle as a rookie. After transitioning to guard in his second season, he finally found a permanent home at center, emerging as the long-term replacement for Max Unger.
From 2016 to 2018, Britt started all but two of Seattle's 48 regular season games at center. He also started three playoff games during that span, becoming a key leader along the offensive line and in the locker room.
But Britt's extended run of reliability took a hit last season, as he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in October and missed the final eight regular season games. He was replaced in the lineup by Joey Hunt, who recently signed his restricted free agent tender to return for the 2020 season.
The Seahawks have remained active adding offensive linemen throughout free agency, signing B.J. Finney, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi, and Chance Warmack. The team also re-signed guard Mike Iupati and Jordan Simmons before using a third-round draft pick on LSU guard Damien Lewis.
Of those players, Finney's arrival put Britt's status in the most tenuous position. The former Kansas State standout started a handful of games at center for the Steelers last year and performed well, earning him a two-year, $8 million contract from the Seahawks.
Coming back from a severe knee injury and carrying a cap hit exceeding $11 million, it's been long rumored that Seattle would at least seek to restructure Britt's deal. The addition of Finney and re-signing of Hunt make it far more likely they will outright release him, however, creating $8.5 million in cap relief.
While sources indicated the pending decisions to cut Britt and Fluker doesn't necessarily mean a major signing is imminent, general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll haven't closed the door on bringing back Jadeveon Clowney. It's possible these moves were made to make one last run at re-signing the star defensive end.
If Clowney isn't in the cards, the extra financial flexibility could be used to target veteran edge rusher Everson Griffen, who also remains a free agent.