Defensive end Red Bryant, one of the Seahawks’ longest-tenured players and a leader of the league’s best defense will be released, according to a Fox Sports report.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) February 24, 2014
The money-saving move would free up salary cap space the Seahawks would need to help keep free agents like defensive end Michael Bennett and receiver Golden Tate, and to also extend contracts of players like safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman.
Bryant, 29, was one of only four remaining players from the pre-Pete Carroll/John Schneider era on the Super Bowl champion team, along with defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, center Max Unger and punter John Ryan. Bryant was a little-used defensive tackle when Carroll took over in 2010, but Carroll and Dan Quinn, then the team’s defensive line coach and current defensive coordinator, suggested a move to end, and Bryant thrived there as a run-stuffing specialist. Bryant said that when the move to end was first proposed, he thought he was on his way to being release, but later he credited it with saving his career.
Prior to the 2012 season, Bryant signed a five-year extension worth $35 million, including $14.5 million in guaranteed money. He was due $7.5 million this year, $3 million of which was in the form of a roster bonus that would have kicked in next month, meaning if the Seahawks were going to release Bryant, they wouldn’t want to wait to do so. Releasing Bryant would free up $5.5 million in cap space.
While Bryant was a starter in Seattle’s base defense, he played fewer snaps this year as the Seahawks rotated linemen frequently, particularly against pass-heavy offenses. In the Super Bowl, Bryant played just 26 percent of the snaps as the Seahawks spent much of the game in their nickel defense.
While neither move is official yet, Bryant is reportedly the second cap casualty of the offseason for Seattle, which will also release receiver Sidney Rice (the team has not confirmed the move, but Rice said his goodbyes on Twitter Friday).