The Seahawks on Tuesday waived safety Tedric Thompson and released tight end Ed Dickson in moves that created an extra $5.1 million in salary-cap space as Seattle navigates the home stretch of the NFL free-agency period.
The team officially announced both moves Tuesday afternoon after they had been reported by other sources earlier in the day. Both were later confirmed via official NFL transactions report and each came with the designation that they failed a physical — Thompson had shoulder surgery last year and Dickson had knee surgery.
Dickson’s release will save $3 million against the cap and Thompson $2.13 million.
The Seahawks were listed as down to $11.3 million in available cap space entering the day by OvertheCap.com. That number, though, does not include the contracts of Bruce Irvin or receiver Phillip Dorsett, who each have agreed to terms or signed in recent days.
Dorsett’s one-year contract will not significantly affect the cap as it was reported Tuesday his deal will count just $877,500 against the cap (he made $2.6 million in 2019 with the New England Patriots).
Irvin is thought to have signed a one-year deal for somewhere in the $3 million range, but details have not yet been revealed as his signing has not yet been made official.
So, the upshot of the two releases, plus what Irvin is thought to be due, is that Seattle has roughly $13 million in cap space. But $7 million of that will have to pay for the team’s seven draft picks.
Still, though each move had long been speculated as ways Seattle could create cap space, that both happened Tuesday raised the obvious question of whether another move is now imminent or whether the team was simply finally getting around to taking care of a little unfinished business (while also letting each player potentially find a new home before the NFL draft).
Specifically, could Seattle be making progress on a deal with defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, or beginning to move on to other rush ends such as Everson Griffen, who it was reported Tuesday is interested in signing with the Seahawks?
But as Tuesday afternoon progressed, there didn’t appear to be anything significant on the horizon (and one reason for the moves finally happening Tuesday and possibly not earlier in free agency is that each player needed to take physicals before they could be waived/released).
Clowney has now gone 15 days since the beginning of the free-agent negotiating period without having signed or reached an agreement with Seattle or any other team, remaining the top-ranked free agent on the market who remains unaccounted.
There is some thought that he might wait until he can travel to take physicals for other teams, something currently prohibited by the NFL due to the novel coronavirus crisis (physicals can be taken by doctors where a player currently resides).
And if Seattle thinks it has reached a stalemate with Clowney, the Seahawks could begin to consider other options, specifically Griffen, 32, a 10-year veteran of the Minnesota Vikings who had eight sacks last year, twice as many as any Seahawk.
The Seahawks have been linked with Griffen for a few weeks, ever since the Vikings told Griffen he would not be re-signed in 2020, in part because of Seattle’s obvious needs at the position and also that Griffen played at USC under Seattle coach Pete Carroll.
If needed, the Seahawks could also still make some other moves to clear out some additional cap space. Other players who could be cut include center Justin Britt ($8.5 million) while the team could also restructure some deals to create space as well (such as turning some of Russell Wilson’s $18 million salary into a bonus that would spread out the cap hit some over future years, or those of players such as Bobby Wagner or K.J. Wright).
Thompson, maybe somewhat oddly, became more vulnerable for being waived when he qualified in January for one of the league’s proven performance escalators that increased his base salary for 2020 from $735,000 to $2.13 million with a cap hit of $2.3 million for this year. But only $168,003 is in dead money, so the waiving of Thompson will save Seattle $2.13 million against the salary cap.
Dickson, meanwhile, was entering the final season of a three-year contract worth up to $10.7 million he signed with the Seahawks in 2018.
It had been reported two weeks ago the team had allowed Thompson to seek a trade. But that didn’t happen — that he was waived with a designation that he failed a physical helps explain why — and waiving him now allows Thompson to begin finding a new team.
Thompson was a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Colorado, taken 111th overall with a pick the Seahawks got when they made a trade move out of the first round (the year they ended up taking Malik McDowell at number 35 overall with their first selection).
In the wake of the departure of Earl Thomas via free agency last March, Thompson entered the 2019 season as the starter at free safety alongside Bradley McDougald.
But Thompson struggled in some early games and was placed on injured reserve in late October with a torn labrum for which he underwent season-ending surgery.
That happened right as the Seahawks traded with Detroit to acquire Quandre Diggs, who moved into the starting lineup at free safety.
Diggs and McDougald are under contract for 2020 and the Seahawks also have 2019 second-round pick Marquise Blair waiting in the wings, while Lano Hill — taken just before Thompson in the 2017 draft at number 95 overall — also remains on the roster as depth at both safety spots.
The Seahawks also last week traded for cornerback Quinton Dunbar, who is expected to compete with Tre Flowers for the starting right-cornerback spot. Flowers played safety at Oklahoma State, and the team could also now consider him as depth at safety if he were to lose out on the cornerback spot.
Ugo Amadi, a fifth-round pick a year ago, can also play both safety and cornerback.
As for Dickson, he played just 10 games over the past two seasons with Seattle while battling injuries, missing all of last year due to a knee injury that required surgery during training camp.
Seattle bolstered its tight-end crew when it signed veteran Greg Olsen in February, which seemed to make it clear the cutting of Dickson was coming soon, while also tendering restricted free agent Jacob Hollister. Will Dissly is also expected back after suffering an Achilles-tendon injury last October.
Dickson becomes an immediate free agent while Thompson is subject to waivers and can be claimed by any team over the next 24 hours. If he clears waivers, he then becomes a free agent.