The Seattle Seahawks have withdrawn the restricted free agent tender on safety Ryan Neal.
The unexpected move makes Neal an unrestricted free agent and clears $2.627 million in much-needed salary cap space for Seattle.
The Seahawks assigned Neal the low RFA tender earlier this month, which meant a one-year offer for $2.627 million and secured their right to match any offer sheet that he might sign with another team. But their depth chart and salary cap picture have since changed.
The Seahawks signed former New York Giants starter Julian Love to a two-year, $12 million deal, bolstering their safety depth behind Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs with a player they didn't expect to be available at that price.
The Love signing was one example of how Seattle has been more aggressive in free agency this year than normal. The team's other significant moves include a three-year, $51.53 million splurge on defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones and, most recently, a reunion with linebacker Bobby Wagner on a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
General manager John Schneider has said they want to continue adding to their defensive line, but the money they've spent has left them tight against the salary cap.
Neal, 27, has been an unsung hero for the Seahawks in each of the past three seasons and was one of their defensive MVPs last year while again filling in for an injured Adams. Neal had career highs with 66 tackles, four tackles for loss and eight passes defensed. He also had an interception, a sack and a forced fumble in 14 games, missing three because of a knee injury.
Neal entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Illinois in 2018. He's also spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.