Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer first reported this morning that the Seattle Seahawks will apparently release veteran OLB Anthony Simmons. Only two years ago, Simmons signed a five-year, $23.75 million contract that included a $7.5 million signing bonus. But after several injury-plagued seasons (Simmons has missed 21 games and played only 27 over the last three years), he has evidently been deemed expendable.
Drafted in 1998 out of Clemson, Simmons was expected to be a true force at the outside linebacker position, with 4.4 speed in a 6'0", 240-pound package. His best seasons with the team were in 2000 and 2001, when he racked up 147 and 121 tackles, respectively. Through the tenures of defensive coordinators Steve Sidwell and Ray Rhodes, Simmons never became the pass-rushing monster the Seahawks expected him to be.
Additionally, more than one run-in with linebackers coach John Marshall and a related one-game suspension in 2003 factor into the equation that allows the team to make this move. The choice is certainly not money-driven - the team will only save $750,000 by releasing him because of the $4.5 million acceleration of his remaining signing bonus. Simmons was set to make $3.25 million as a base salary.
The Seahawks have several options to replace Simmons - moving Chad Brown over to his spot is one. Brown, however, is a possible candidate for salary restructuring or release as well. Young linebackers Tracy White and D.D. Lewis may play their way into starting spots, and Simmons' release makes it all the more likely that the team will select an outside linebacker with the 23rd pick in the first round - Virginia OLB Darryl Blackstock's name has been linked to the Seahawks by at least one draft expert.
Picking up a 'backer in free agency is an option, but with the contracts of Ken Lucas, Chike Okeafor, Floyd Womack and others to negotiate, money will be tight when it comes to outside shopping.
Stay tuned to Seahawks.NET for further developments as they happen…