The Seahawks today made official long-anticipated, and already well-reported, moves to release receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant.
Rice was due to make $17.5 million over the next two years, and a salary cap hit of $9.7 million for the 2014 season (with 2.4 million in dead money, meaning an additional cap savings with this move of $7.3 million. Bryant was due to make $17.5 million over the next three years and has a cap hit of $8.5 million for 2014 ($3 million in dead money, saving the team $5.5 million). He was also due a $3 million bonus if he was on the roster as of March 14, all part of a five-year deal he signed prior to the 2012 season that would have been worth a total of $35.1 million ($14.9 million was guaranteed).
Each of the moves is being made to clear up cap space to allow the team to re-sign free agents such as Michael Bennett and Golden Tate, and pursue others. The two moves combined will clear up about $13 million in cap space for the 2014 season, when the salary cap could be around $133 million total. The moves will also help clear up cap space in the 2015 season when the team will have to extend quarterback Russell Wilson (with extensions for safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman also likely to come by then).
The releases of Rice and Bryant — a defensive team captain the last two years — are the first two significant moves made by the Seahawks as they begin re-tooling the roster to defend the Super Bowl title they won earlier this month, beating the Denver Broncos 43-8.
The release of Bryant also means just three players now remain who were with the team prior to coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider taking over in 2010 — the others are defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, center Max Unger and punter Jon Ryan.
UPDATE — The NFL’s official listing of Rice’s release includes the designation that he “failed physical.” Rice suffered an ACL injury on Oct. 28 at St. Louis and it was unclear when he would be ready to return to the field.
Here is the team’s official press released on the two moves in which it says it is announcing the moves now to give each a head start in finding new homes when the free agency period begins March 11: