By John Boyle
On Friday, multiple news outlets reported that the Seahawks were going to release Sidney Rice, and later that afternoon the receiver even said his goodbyes on Twitter, writing, “The number #12 will remain on the left side of my chest no matter what! Grateful for the opportunity to share so many special moments w yall.”
Two days later, Red Bryant was reportedly on his way out. Both reported moves were salary-cap saving cuts, and neither were all that surprising, yet here we are on Wednesday and at least technically speaking, both Bryant and Rice are still Seahawks. Usually when news leaks out of a player’s release, it’s only a matter of hours or perhaps a day until that news becomes official. So why, for the third straight following Bryant’s reported release, did the league’s official personnel notice contain no Seahawks moves?
This is just speculation, but it’s quite possible that the Seahawks are waiting to finalize any moves until after league and the player’s association, who are in talks this week, set the 2014 salary cap.
The NFL had a $123 million salary cap in 2013—though could spend more than that by rolling over unused cap space from the previous season—and for a while the belief was that the 2014 cap would only be slightly higher, somewhere in the $126 million range. In recent days, however, there have been reports that the 2014 cap will be higher than expected, likely more than $130 million.
If the 2014 salary cap is indeed higher than originally expected, it’s entirely possible that the Seahawks, and a lot of other teams for that matter, are waiting to see what happens in the next few days before making big decisions. If, for example, the 2014 cap is $132 million and the Seahawks were expecting it to be $126, that extra $6 million would more than cover the cap savings of releasing Bryant ($5.5 million) while still giving Seattle room to re-sign the likes of Michael Bennett and Golden Tate.
Yes, more cap space means other teams would also have more to spend on free agents like Bennett or Tate, but all things being equal, a higher cap would benefit a young, talented team like Seattle, one that is trying to retain its own players, more than most.
And none of this is to say Bryant and Rice won’t still be cut—it’s rare things get far enough in the process that one side leaks the move to the media if it isn’t inevitable—but just maybe the uncertainty about next year’s cap is the reason for the delay.