Red Bryant and Sidney Rice were released on Friday. It was news. There was also something to be gleaned from the lack of news on two players. Chris Clemons and Zach Miller are still Seahawks. News of renegotiated contracts do not always leak out. Remember, Marcus Trufant had his deal re-done, as did John Schneider, and it was months before it became public knowledge. Here is my best guess what the non-news about Clemons and Miller means.
Players are released only when a team is certain they will not require their services in the coming year. Rice and Bryant were let go this quickly to help them find a new team. Make no mistake, though, if the Seahawks brass thought they may choose to keep one of them, even at a lower price, they would not hesitate to hold onto them and hurt their free agent chances. That is likely the situation with Clemons.
It is not clear there will be a replacement for Clemons that will both match his talent and the price the team is willing to pay for that talent. Releasing him right now would mean the team would need to either re-sign him later for a cheaper price or another veteran LEO. Seattle is likely hedging their bet. There is no way they are going to pay Clemons what his contract stipulates next season. Schneider may want to wade into free agency to get a feel for where the market will be for this position. If it is nuts, he will go hard for a restructure with Clemons. If it is soft, he could find a player he likes better than Clemons (Jared Allen?) and let Clemons walk, even if that seems unfair to rob Clemons of time in the market.
The chances of Clemons remaining with the team next year are definitely improved right now. I expected the Seahawks to let him go, test the market, and then potentially re-sign him late in free agency if both sides decided they were the best match for one another. Now, they may do the same dance, but the Seahawks do not want to completely un-tether themselves.
As for Miller, this is what I expected to this point. In fact, I expect no news at all on Miller. Few seem to agree that the team will pay him his full salary in 2014. Only time will tell. He is an incredibly valuable part of the offense, and a very rare type of player for the position, especially when it comes to the combination of pass blocking, run blocking and receiving. I don’t see why the team would risk losing him by trying to force a renegotiation when he has done everything the team has asked of him. They only need to mend the tight end position right now. Letting Miller walk would create a void that is unlikely to be filled with equal talent.
Both story lines are worth watching as we are just a week from the soft-start of free agency.