Seahawks release returner Leon Washington

Mar 12, 2013, 10:21 PM | Updated: 11:21 pm

By Brady Henderson

RENTON – The smile disappeared from John Schneider’s face as the subject went from Percy Harvin to one of the players he’s replacing.

“We have a very special place in our hearts for him,” the Seahawks’ general manager said of kick returner and fan favorite Leon Washington, who was released by the team Tuesday after three seasons in Seattle.

fd1585cd-cccb-4adf-a7ba-5ebc055a3470
“He did a phenomenal job here, fans love him, he’s such a pro,” Seahawks general manager John Schneider said of kick returner Leon Washington, who was released by the team Tuesday. (AP)

Shortly after news broke Monday that the Seahawks were set to acquire the versatile Harvin, CBSSports.com reported that they had been gauging the trade market for Washington. When nothing materialized, the Seahawks gave him his walking papers and some highly complimentary remarks.

“He did a phenomenal job here, fans love him, he’s such a pro,” Schneider said. “He really handled himself with extreme class with Pete [Carroll] and I when we talked to him, and understood what we were doing.”

Washington, 30, was coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he averaged a career-high 29 yards per kickoff return. He was due to make $1.5 million in base salary and another $1 million in a roster bonus, money the Seahawks apparently didn’t want to pay after signing Harvin to a deal reportedly worth $67 million over six years.

Carroll said Harvin will return kickoffs for the Seahawks, though it wasn’t clear whether or not that will be on a full-time basis.

Washington, meanwhile, will be looking for a new team.

“Seattle It’s Been Awesome A Ride, Got Nothing Bad 2 Say About The Gr8 NW #12thMan StandUp!!! Like always… #LetsGetIt,” Washington tweeted.

If anyone knows how quickly fortunes can change in the NFL, it’s Washington.

He was a Pro Bowl and All-Pro returner with the Jets in 2008 and the following year sustained a gruesome leg injury that threatened to end his career. A draft-day trade in 2010 sent Washington to the Seahawks, and in his first season in Seattle he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns – including two during a memorable win over San Diego at CenturyLink Field.

That comeback season endeared Washington to Seahawks fans and earned him a four-year contract extension.

Washington tied the NFL record for most career kickoffs returned for touchdowns during a November loss to Miami. And in another reminder of how cruel the NFL can be, even another Pro Bowl season wasn’t enough for Washington to keep his job.

“We’ll miss him,” Schneider said. “But he understands what we’re doing.”

Brady Henderson

Rees Odhiambo, a 2016 third-round pick, will compete with Matt Tobin to start at left tackle. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Tom Cable: Rees Odhiambo, Matt Tobin are Seahawks’ preferred LT options

Tom Cable brought a bit of clarity to the Seahawks' plans at left tackle in the wake of George Fant's season-ending knee injury, saying Tuesday that Rees Odhiambo and newcomer Matt Tobin are the top two options.
5 years ago
Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks injury updates: George Fant set for surgery, K.J. Wright returns

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday that left tackle George Fant is expected to be back by next season from the knee injury that will sideline him in 2017.
5 years ago
Matt Tobin, 27, started 21 games over seasons with the Eagles. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks acquire OL Matt Tobin in trade with Eagles

The Seahawks have acquired offensive tackle Matt Tobin in a trade with the Eagles, making another move to shore up their offensive line after losing left tackle George Fant for the season.
5 years ago
Luke Joeckel played left tackle for his first three NFL seasons. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Luke Joeckel? Rees Odhiambo? A look at the Seahawks’ LT options with George Fant out for the season

The Seahawks need a new plan at left tackle with George Fant out for the season. Moving Luke Joeckel there is one option, writes Brady Henderson.
5 years ago
Michael Bennett on Justin Britt standing by his side during the national anthem Friday night: “I ...
Brady Henderson

Justin Britt stands by Michael Bennett during national anthem: ‘A very emotional moment’

Seahawks center Justin Britt showed his support for teammate Michael Bennett Friday night, standing by him as Bennett remained seated during the national anthem.
5 years ago
Left tackle George Fant suffered an injury in the first half of Friday's preseason game. (AP)...
Brady Henderson

Seahawks’ George Fant needs ACL surgery, likely out for season

The Seahawks' offensive line was dealt a massive blow with left tackle George Fant suffering a knee injury Friday night that will likely keep him out all season.
5 years ago
Seahawks release returner Leon Washington