Wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant will reportedly be the first Seahawks to be released in cost-saving moves. They likely won't be the last.
Releasing Zach Miller would clear up a significant amount of salary-cap space while leaving Seattle thin at tight end. (AP)
Clemons, Miller on the chopping block? Clayton expects defensive end Chris Clemons and tight end Zach Miller – if he doesn't agree to a reduced salary – to also be released, which combined with the releases of Rice and Bryant would clear around $24 million of salary-cap space in 2014. Clayton thinks Seattle could then give defensive lineman Michael Bennett, a pending unrestricted free agent, a new deal averaging $7 million or $8 million a season.
Bryant could be back. Bryant just completed the second year of a five-year, $35 million deal he signed before the 2012 season. Clayton thinks the good will Seattle engendered by giving Bryant an above-market deal could help him get over the hard feelings of being released, potentially allowing him to return on a reduced deal that pays him around $4 million per season.
Replacing Miller. No other Seahawks tight end who is under contract for next season has much – if any – starting experience, so releasing Miller would likely put Seattle in the market for a starter. One name Clayton mentioned was Jermichael Finley assuming he makes a full recovery from the season-ending neck injury he suffered in 2013. Finley, 26, has spent all six of his NFL seasons with Green Bay.
Cap increasing? Clayton said some projections have the 2014 salary cap increasing to $132 million, about $9 million more than it was in 2013. While that would give Seattle more flexibility to re-sign Bennett and wide receiver Golden Tate, might it also be a double-edged sword in that it increases the price tag free agents place on themselves knowing teams have more money to spend?