By John Boyle Herald Writer
RENTON — Leon Washington is one of the NFL’s most dynamic kick returners. So too, however, is the Seahawks’ newest addition Percy Harvin, who was acquired in a trade that became official Tuesday.
So despite Washington’s production in his three seasons with Seattle, the Pro Bowl returner was deemed expendable by the Seahawks, who released him Tuesday.
“Our first draft here we traded for Leon, we have a very special place in our hearts for him,” said Seahawks general manager John Schneider. “The hardest part of the business is calling somebody and telling him that we’re going to go in a different direction. He did a phenomenal job here. The fans love him. He’s such a pro. He really handled himself with extreme class with Pete (head coach Pete Carroll) and I when we talked with him and understood what we were doing. Leon, the first thing you would say about him is that he’s a pro. We’ll miss him, but he understands what we’re doing.”
There was some question as to whether the Seahawks would let Harvin return kicks and subject him to the injury risk that comes with it seeing as they signed him to a lucrative contract, but Carroll said Harvin will be used as a returner in addition to his role on offense.
Washington came to Seattle after suffering a career-threatening leg injury in 2009 while playing for the New York Jets, but he showed in 2010 he was still one of the game’s best returners, scoring three touchdowns on kick returns, including two in a win over San Diego. Washington averaged 29 yards per return last season and was named to his second Pro Bowl. His kick return touchdown last season was the eight of his career, matching Josh Cribbs’ NFL record.
Yet for all Washington did in the return game, his role in the offense decreased significantly last year with the addition of running back Robert Turbin. And with Washington set to count $2.87 million towards the cap this year, and Harvin now on the team, the Seahawks decided they no longer needed Washington.
Washington indicated via Twitter that he held no ill will towards the Seahawks, writing, “Seattle It’s Been Awesome A Ride, Got Nothing Bad 2 Say About The Gr8 NW #12thMan StandUp!!! Like always… #LetsGetIt”