The inevitable release of wide receiver Sidney Rice, which ESPN Insider Adam Schefter is reporting will happen soon, is the move the Seattle Seahawks had to make to have any chance of keeping free agent receiver Golden Tate.
Rice’s release will save $7.3 million in salary-cap money for Seattle. It’s money the team will need to try to re-sign Tate, who made $880,000 in 2013 and likely will get offers in excess of $5 million per year in free agency.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Thursday that re-signing Tate was a big priority: “Golden knows where we stand, how much we love him and how much we want him on this team.”
Releasing Rice also will help the Seahawks re-sign receiver Doug Baldwin, a restricted free agent who made only $560,000 in 2013.
If Tate signs with another team, the Seahawks could use some of the money saved on Rice to try to keep defensive linemen Michael Bennett, a free agent who made $4.8 million in 2013.
Rice was due $17.5 million in base salary over the next two seasons. He missed the final eight regular-season games last season, and the playoffs, after suffering a torn ACL against St. Louis on Oct. 28.
But Rice never has been the player the Seahawks hoped he would be when they signed him to a five-year, $41 million deal in 2011. At 6-foot-4, Rice was the one big target among the Seattle receiving corps, so it’s likely the team will look for a big wide receiver early in the 2014 draft.
Rice’s upcoming release is only the first in what probably will be several difficult roster decisions by the Seahawks to add cap space. Defensive end Chris Clemons, who is scheduled to make $9.6 million in 2014, also could be a luxury the team can’t afford to keep.