Seattle rescinded the franchise tag applied to linebacker Leroy Hill back in February, removing $8.3 million from the Seahawks' books and making Hill an unrestricted free agent.
RENTON — Almost as soon as the Seahawks added linebacker Aaron Curry with the No. 4 overall pick, they subtracted linebacker Leroy Hill from their salary cap.
Seattle rescinded the franchise tag applied to Hill back in February, removing $8.3 million from the Seahawks’ books and making Hill an unrestricted free agent.
So the Seahawks concluded the NFL’s two-day draft Sunday with seven new players on the roster and one big question: Will the linebacking trio of Hill, Curry and Lofa Tatupu get broken up before it plays a game together?
“We wouldn’t have done it if we didn’t say that we can handle losing Leroy,” president Tim Ruskell said. “We don’t want to, they don’t want to, and we think we can get a deal done.”
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Ruskell said he planned to negotiate with Hill’s agent, Todd France, on Sunday night and again this morning. France did not return a phone message, but told The Associated Press that discussions were ongoing. Attempts to reach Hill were unsuccessful.
Seattle placed the franchise tag on Hill in February after the two sides could not reach a long-term deal. The franchise tag required a one-year tender that would pay Hill $8.3 million. Hill could have signed the tender and been guaranteed that salary for the 2010 season.
He did not sign the tender and was not under contract, which meant he was not subject to fines if he skipped mandatory minicamps or held out of training camp. Hill did not attend the voluntary minicamp the Seahawks held at the beginning of April.
“The tag was put on originally to try and get a long-term deal done, and that didn’t happen,” Ruskell said. “We got to the point where Leroy wasn’t showing up for offseason camps.”
Ruskell said in February when the Seahawks placed the franchise tag on Hill the two sides were not necessarily close to a contract. The addition of Curry changed the situation. While Curry figures to play on the strong side and Hill on the weakside, the addition of Curry made Seattle comfortable with taking the chance Hill would leave as a free agent if the franchise tag was rescinded.
“Obviously, it would not have happened had we not taken Curry,” Ruskell said.
The Seahawks removed the tag on Hill on Saturday after making the selection, immediately freeing up $8.3 million that can be used to address other positions.
“It gives us some more flexibility in terms of some other people that might be out there,” Ruskell said.
The Seahawks have already hosted cornerback Ken Lucas, who was originally drafted by the Seahawks but played the past four seasons with Carolina. Lucas was released by Carolina this offseason. Another possibility if Hill leaves in free agency would be the addition of former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks.
Coach Jim Mora said linebackers coach Zerick Rollins and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley both spoke to Hill. Mora talked to him Sunday.
“He’s very motivated to be a Seattle Seahawk,” Mora said. “He told me this morning this is where he wanted to finish his career. I think he was a little shook up, and maybe disappointed, but in terms of being upset or mad, no.
“At least that’s not the feeling I got in talking to Leroy.”
Mora said the two spoke about the possibility Hill would be signed to a contract and ready for the minicamp that begins Friday.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org