The Super Bowl champion Seahawks Friday released wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant, the club’s first salary-cap casualties. Their imminent departures were reported last week as the club freed up $12.8 million under the NFL’s cap, which has been reported to be set at $133 million for 2014, an increase of nearly $10 million over 2013.
The Seahawks have 16 free agents, include DE Michael Bennett and WR Golden Tate, both unrestricted.
The Seahawks save $7.3 million by releasing Rice, 28, and $5.5 million by cutting Bryant, 30 in April. Bryant would have received $3 million if he were on the roster by March 14. The moves also help clear space for the team’s free-agent class of 2015, which includes QB Russell Wilson, S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman.
Rice was due to earn $17.5 million over the next two seasons and Bryant $17.5 million over the next three. Only three Seahawks remain from the time prior to the arrival in January 2010 of coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider — C Max Unger, DL Brandon Mebane and P Jon Ryan.
The free agent period begins March 8. March 11 is the first day signings can be completed.
“We want to thank both Red and Sidney for their effort, commitment and contribution to the Seattle Seahawks over the last few years,” Schneider said in a club statement. “These are extremely tough decisions, but we wanted to give them a head start on free agency. We wish them well in the future.”
Selected by Seattle in the fourth round (121st overall) of the 2008 draft as a defensive tackle, Seattle moved Bryant to end in 2010. He has since started 54 games. Bryant played about half the snaps, mostly in likely rushing downs, making his large salary harder to justify.
Bryant played in 64 games overall with 55 starts, recording 121 tackles (78 solo), 3.5 sacks, two interceptions, one touchdown, seven passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. Over the past three seasons, he started 47 games, missing one due to injury. He also played in five postseason games with six tackles.
Signed by Seattle as an unrestricted free agent from Minnesota on July 29, 2011, Rice played in 33 games with 31 starts for the Seahawks with 97 receptions for 1,463 yards and 12 touchdowns over three seasons.
His 2011 season was cut short by a concussion, and he missed the final five games of the season. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2012 and led the team in receptions (50), yards (748) and tied Golden Tate in touchdowns (7), one shy of his career-high set in 2009.
Last season, Rice had 15 catches for 231 yards and three touchdowns before tearing his ACL at St. Louis Oct. 28 that required surgery.
Drafted by the Vikings in the second round (44th overall) in 2007, Rice had 81 games with 57 starts, posted 243 receptions for 3,592 yards and 30 touchdowns. He has also played in five postseason games with three starts, posting 17 catches for 298 yards and four touchdowns.