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Seahawks release Chris Clemons, save $7.5 million

By Brady Henderson

The Seahawks have released defensive end Chris Clemons, which saves the team $7.5 million in salary-cap space in 2014 and potentially opens the door for another move.

Super Bowl Football
Chris Clemons’ release was predictable given the defensive end’s salary and age and the interest Seattle has shown in other pass rushers during the start of free agency. (AP)

The timing of the release – which was confirmed by the team Wednesday afternoon – is significant. It comes two days after Seattle re-signed fellow defensive lineman Michael Bennett to a four-year, $28.5 million contract and a day after the team was linked to a pair of free-agent pass rushers, Jared Allen and Jason Hatcher.

Clemons’ release comes as no surprise in that regard. He’s 32 years old, entering the final year of his contract and coming off a season in which his production decreased. After posting 33.5 sacks from 2010-2012, Clemons had 4.5 in 2013 and missed the first two games as he was being eased back into action following offseason reconstructive knee surgery.

But while it was a down season for Clemons – and understandably so given his recovery from surgery – he ended it with a bang by recording a sack, a pass defensed and two forced fumbles in Seattle’s Super Bowl victory over Denver.

His contract included a $7.5 million base salary in 2014 and roughly $2.167 million remaining from his signing bonus. By releasing Clemons, Seattle saves the money he would have been owed in salary, while the remaining signing-bonus proration still counts against the team’s salary cap.

According to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, Clemons is close to a deal with the Jaguars, who are coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

As Clemons’ career with the Seahawks comes to an end, it’s worth reflecting on the shrewdness of his acquisition.

Undrafted in 2003, he had 20 sacks and three career starts when Seattle acquired him in a trade with Philadelphia in 2010, general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll seeing him as an ideal fit for the weakside defensive end spot known as the Leo in Seattle’s defense. They sent defensive end Darryl Tapp to the Eagles in exchange for a fourth-round pick and Clemons, who went on to post 38 sacks in his four seasons with Seattle.

It was one of the first moves Seattle made by Schneider and Carroll, and four years later it still stands as one of the best.