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Seahawks release former starting cornerback Cary Williams

Cary Williams was in the first year of a three-year, $18 million deal with the Seahawks. (AP)

The Seahawks have released cornerback Cary Williams, who lost his starting job two weeks ago and has been inactive for Seattle’s last two games.

The move was first reported by Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and has since been confirmed by a league source.

Williams, 30, signed a three-year, $18 million contract over the offseason as a replacement for Byron Maxwell, who left in free agency. He was benched midway through his 10th start for repeated lapses in coverage and was replaced at right cornerback by DeShawn Shead, who had previously played safety and nickelback. Williams was then inactive for the last two games in what was clearly a coach’s decision as he was not injured.

Williams’ release is not a huge surprise given the degree to which Seattle appeared to have moved on from him, though it wasn’t necessarily a move the Seahawks were expected to make before the end of the season.

For one, Williams’ first-year salary is guaranteed, so Seattle didn’t have any financial incentive to release him right now as opposed to waiting until the offseason. Also, Williams seemingly still had some value as a backup given Seattle’s other options behind Richard Sherman and Shead. Jeremy Lane and Marcus Burley have played mostly nickelback throughout their careers while rookie fifth-round pick Tye Smith has yet to play a defensive snap this season. George Farmer and Trovon Reed are the two cornerbacks on Seattle’s practice squad.