The big news this morning is that the Seahawks have officially released Chris Clemons. After being treated as nothing more than a situational pass rusher in his first five seasons with Washington, Oakland, and Philadelphia, Clemons earned the starting Leo DE gig in Seattle and flourished, notching at least 11 sacks in each of his first three years here. However, a knee injury late in the playoffs last year hobbled and slowed him for much of the 2013 season, limiting him to just 11 starts in 14 games and 4.5 sacks.
I think Clemons still has plenty of gas left in the tank, but with Bennett and Avril on the roster he was no longer worth a $9.67 million cap hit to the Seahawks — releasing him clears up $7.5M in cap space. I wouldn't rule out the team re-signing him to a deal more in keeping with his current value (he turns 33 this October), but for a guy who runs on pure bitterness as much as Clemons does (his fellow defensive teammates seem to love that about him) getting released may prove too much of an insult for him to overcome. Either way, it's been a lot of fun watching him and his ptich-black visor swallow up quarterbacks these past four seasons.
According to ESPN reporter Adam Caplan, Zach Miller is owed a $1M roster bonus if he is still on the team next Thursday. Whatever the Seahawks plan on doing with him — release, restructure, etc. — they'll need to make a decision soon. His future could very well be determined by how well Jermichael Finley's physical goes when he visits Seattle.
Finally, Chris Maragos just became the latest of Seattle's free agent backups to cash in after winning a Super Bowl, signing a 3 year, $4M contract with $1M guaranteed. Not bad for a career special teamer.
I'll add more updates as news trickles in.
UPDATE (12:03): According to Ian Rapaport of NFL.com, the Giants have not yet finalized their deal with O'Brien Schofield, apparently due to some concerns about his knee. If they end up backing out on the deal, the injury concern could scare off other suitors around the league and allow the Seahawks to scoop him up on a one year prove-it deal and let him battle for a backup job in training camp for the second year in a row.
UPDATE (2:15): Reports are now coming in that the 2 year, $8M deal between Schofield and the Giants is now off the table. That doesn't mean he won't still sign with them, but any renegotiated contract is going to have a lower number attached to it and will include protections for the team should whatever is wrong with his knee end up sidelining him. Bottom line, the odds of him returning to Seattle just rose from nonexistent to merely unlikely.
Also, as most of us expected Tate has signed on with another team. The Lions offered him a 5 year, $31M contract, which averages out to $6.2M per season — the Seahawks, by comparison, were only willing to go as high as $5M per season. I'd much rather he'd decided to stay in Seattle, but I can't fault the guy for cashing in when he has the chance and Detroit isn't a bad landing spot for him. Between their anemic run game and Calvin Johnson commanding double and triple teams on the other side of the field, Tate has the opportunity to amass some pretty healthy stat lines for himself.
Tate's departure makes wide receiver a key position to watch during training camp this year. Percy Harvin and Jermaine Kearse are still under contract, and Doug Baldwin will most likely be returning to the fold as well, but beyond that it's a free-for-all. Arceto Clark and Phil Bates are practice squad guys who will be returning to compete for roster spots, as will 2013 injury fill-ins Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters. Also in the mix are Chris Matthews, a 6'5" receiver who won the CFL's most outstanding rookie award playing for Winnipeg in 2012 (81 catches for 1,192 yds and 7 TDs), and Taylor Price, a former third round bust for the Patriots and bench warmer for the Jaguars who has five career receptions to show for his four seasons in the NFL (Price was just signed today — hey, teams need camp bodies too, right?).
In happier news, Tony McDaniel has re-signed with the Seahawks. The Cowboys made a push to acquire him, but he opted to stay put for a modest 2 year deal reportedly worth up to $6.3M. Glad to have you back, McDaniel.
UPDATE (6:25): Breno Giacomini has signed an undisclosed deal with the Jets. Improving the o-line is a top priority this offseason, and Giacomini was clearly not a part of those plans — as far as I can tell, Seattle made no effort whatsoever to re-sign him. Expect to see a bunch of new faces come in this offseason to compete for the open starting positions at right tackle and both guard spots. Here's hoping Schneider can improve his spotty track record when it comes to picking offensive linemen.