Two anticipated moves became official Friday, with the Seahawks releasing defensive end Red Bryant and wide receiver Sidney Rice.
Both moves, which were made to free up salary-cap space, were expected — Rice’s impending release was reported a week ago and Bryant’s was reported Sunday — but still represent significant departures for the Super Bowl champions.
Bryant has been a starting defensive end since moving to that position from defensive tackle in 2010 at the suggestion of head coach Pete Carroll and then-defensive line coach Dan Quinn. At his new position, Bryant blossomed into a key component in Seattle’s run defense and also became a team leader, being voted the defense’s captain for the 2013 season.
Rice became Seattle’s first big-money free agent signing under Carroll and general manager John Schneider, agreeing to a five-year deal in July of 2011. Injuries cut short his 2011 season, but he returned to lead the Seahawks in receiving while playing all 16 games in 2012. This past season, he played in just eight games before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
“We want to thank both Red and Sidney for their effort, commitment and contribution to the Seattle Seahawks over the last few years,” Schneider said in a press release. “These are extremely tough decisions, but we wanted to give them a head start on free agency. We wish them well in the future.”
By releasing Rice and Bryant, the Seahawks free up $12.8 million in cap space for 2014. Theoretically either could re-sign with Seattle if there isn’t a big market for them in free agency, but they would have to be willing to take a pretty significant pay cut to do so. There has been speculation that the Seahawks could make more cost-cutting moves, perhaps releasing defensive end Chris Clemons and/or tight end Zach Miller if they aren’t willing to restructure their contracts, but with the NFL setting the 2014 salary cap at $133 million Friday, $10 million more than the 2013 cap and significantly higher than earlier projections for 2014, the Seahawks may now have the flexibility to re-sign free agents such as defensive lineman Michael Bennett and wide receiver Golden Tate without making more cuts.
Rice took to Twitter to say his goodbyes, writing: “The amount of love I have for the #12thman and the @Seahawks organization! Thanks for a wonderful experience! #superbowlchampions #workethic #values #class”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.