On Friday, the Seahawks made the move that had been rumored for several days when they released linebacker Anthony Simmons. The team also released safety Damien Robinson.
Simmons’ release, first reported by Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Wednesday, came for several reasons. Injuries (he had played in only six games in 2004 and had missed chunks of the last three seasons), several reported personal conflicts with coaches, and the $500,000 roster bonus he was due on Monday all played a part in the final outcome. Simmons was also due a $3.25 million base salary in 2005. The Seahawks don’t stand to save much with his cut due to the $4.5 million acceleration of his remaining signing bonus. Only two years ago, Simmons signed a five-year, $23.75 million contract that included a $7.5 million signing bonus.
Robinson, a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer and New York Jet, signed as a free agent with Seattle before the 2003 season. He played in 15 games in 2003, starting four. Robinson then missed the entire 2004 season with a shoulder injury. He was to make $800,000 next season and was also due a roster bonus of $200,000.
Before the Simmons and Robinson cuts, the Seahawks had approximately $6 million in cap room with which to acquire free agents – they now stand at around $7.5 million, with more moves undoubtedly to come.
Friday also saw Tim Ruskell’s first radio interview as the Seahawks’ Team President/GM. Ruskell spoke with KJR’s Mitch Levy on a number of subjects, including Simmons’ release. While he “would not go into personality issues”, Ruskell said that the move was best for all involved after conferring with Seattle’s coaches and personnel people. No trade involving Simmons was in the works
- On the outside perception of the mess that former Team President Bob Whitsitt left behind (a full third of the team stood as unsigned free agents after the 2004 season). Ruskell said that the situation looked “hard to deal with” until the signing of QB Matt Hasselbeck and LT Walter Jones to long-term contracts, as well as the franchise designation of RB Shaun Alexander. Ruskell pointed to those moves as keys in allowing the team to move forward. Returning consultant Mike Reinfeldt was the pointman in all three player deals, all of which occurred before Ruskell’s hire.
- On replacing Simmons in a linebacker corps weakened by injuries and ineffectiveness, Ruskell pointed to both free agency and the draft when asked how the situation will be addressed. He said that LB Chad Brown “will be a Seahawk” in 2005 (most likely involving a restructuring of Brown’s current contract), and that the team will speak to more than one free agent linebacker very soon. Jeremiah Trotter was scheduled to visit Seattle next week, but Trotter inked a new deal with the Philadelphia Eagles instead. Baltimore inside linebacker Edgerton Hartwell has already spoken to the team and will probably visit soon.
- There has been dialogue with Shaun Alexander’s agent regarding a possible deal, but no definitive action on Seattle ’s franchised running back.
- Regarding CB Ken Lucas’ defection to the Carolina Panthers, Ruskell said that the Seahawks were contacted by Lucas’ agent with an offer to match the Panthers’ 6-year, $36 million contract. The Seahawks declined. Ruskell said that the market for cornerbacks went beyond their ability to retain Lucas, based on the team’s ratings. The Seahawks are reportedly speaking to Miami about a trade involving cornerback Patrick Surtain, who would replace Lucas in the defensive backfield. Miami apparently asked for a second-round draft pick in return.
- Regarding his overall defensive philosophy – Ruskell was Tampa Bay’s Director of College Scouting from 1992 until 2001 and was responsible for drafting many of the players that made up their dominant defense – Ruskell said that be believes in building a defense “from the front backwards”. This would be a reversal of strategy for the Seahawks, but a necessary one. One factor Lucas mentioned after signing with the Panthers was their stellar front seven and how much easier his own job would be in a complete defense.
SIGHTLINES AND AUDIBLES: Despite rampant speculation that QB Trent Dilfer will be traded to the Cleveland Browns for a draft pick, no official announcement has been made at this time.
- After concluding his visit in Denver, DE Chike Okeafor is scheduled to meet with the Arizona Cardinals. TE Itula Mili and MLB Orlando Huff also recently spent time in Arizona talking to the team.
- Restricted free agent DT Rocky Bernard has the interest of the Houston Texans (who he has met with) and the New York Jets. The Seahawks tendered Bernard for 2005, so they would have the right to match any offer, or receive compensation in the form of a draft pick if Bernard were to go elsewhere.
Stay tuned to Seahawks.NET for more free agency news as it develops…