Pete Carroll's comments Wednesday helped further explain why the Seahawks waived veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney on Tuesday.
Now former Seahawks defensive end Dwight Freeney weighed in via Twitter Wednesday afternoon about having been waived by Seattle the day before and subsequently claimed by Detroit.
“Completely confused to be in this situation but excited for the future,’’ Freeney tweeted.
He may not be alone.
There was a lot of excitement among Seahawks fans when Freeney signed with Seattle on Oct. 24 as part of the team’s attempt to replace the injured Cliff Avril.
Freeney, regarded by many as a sure Hall of Famer someday with 125.5 career sacks, got off to a nice start with the Seahawks with three sacks in his first two games, which seemed to validate that Seattle had gotten something of a steal by being the team that was able to sign Freeney, and added to the surprise Tuesday when he was waived.
So why did the Seahawks waive Freeney on Tuesday, a roster spot that on Wednesday the team filled with rookie receiver David Moore, who was promoted off the practice squad?
Here are five reasons why the team made the move it did.
1. Seattle had a logjam on the defensive line
The Seahawks had 11 defensive linemen on their roster for the Atlanta game — Seattle had just eight when the season began and has often gone with nine or 10.
Having 11 meant that one or two DLs were likely to be inactive each gameday — three were against Atlanta, two of whom were healthy (Garrison Smith, Quinton Jefferson) along with the injured Jarran Reed.
If Seattle was going to make a move to open up a roster spot, defensive line made sense, as coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday.
“We have some injuries and other stuff we have to deal with and this is a spot where we have some guys that can play that spot,’’ Carroll said. “We are a little deeper there.’’
2. Waiving Freeney saves a little bit of money against the salary cap
As a veteran with more than 10 years of experience Freeney had to be given a salary of at least $1 million, which is what he had with the Seahawks. But since he was not on the roster when the season began his contract was not guaranteed, meaning he was truly just being paid game-to-game, essentially $58,823 per game.
Of the players Seattle could have realistically gotten rid of on the defensive line, Freeney was making the most.
Carroll made specific mention of the finances involved saying “there was cap concerns’’ that played into the decision with Freeney.
Moore will make $122,400 for the rest of the season.
According to Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com, the move saves Seattle $217,059 against this year’s salary cap (though he says Seattle could also get credit for Freeney’s $48,000 in per-game bonuses in 2018 if it wants).
Regardless of the actual number — any estimation will have it being roughly $200,000 or so — the savings might seem small.
But Seattle is listed as having just $189,034 in available cap space entering Wednesday, the least of any team in the NFL, so every little bit helps adds some flexibility for the rest of the season.
Freeney signed before Seattle traded Duane Brown, a deal that initially included cornerback Jeremy Lane so it’s hard to say how much the fact that Lane and his $4 million base salary returned to the Seahawks impacted anything. But certainly that made Seattle tighter against the cap than it thought it would be for 24 hours or so.
3. He’s 37 years old and that might have begun to show the last two weeks
While Freeney had three sacks in the first two games he hadn’t done much the last two weeks.
He played 41 snaps against Arizona and 17 against Atlanta and was credited with just one quarterback hit in those plays, that coming against the Cardinals.
Carroll made mention of the team’s lack of a pass rush following the Atlanta game saying “we weren’t able to get to the quarterback like we thought we would.”
4. Dion Jordan emerged
When the Seahawks signed Freeney, they didn’t really know for sure what they had yet in Dion Jordan, who had been on the Non-Football Injury list until being activated on Nov. 8.
But in two games since then Jordan has proved to the team that he can be a legitimate contributor. In 52 snaps Jordan has five tackles, one sack and three quarterback hits in the last two games.
As noted above, Freeney played just 17 snaps against Atlanta after playing 18, 25 and 41 in his first three and the emergence of Jordan was going to continue to eat into Freeney’s snaps a bit.
5. The team needed to open up a roster spot for Moore
That Seattle added a receiver might also have caught some off guard since that hasn’t seemed a particular area of need of late, and there don’t appear to be any new injuries among the five players who have been on the roster at that position all season.
But Carroll confirmed Wednesday that the Seahawks were likely to lose Moore to the 53-man roster of another team if they had not promoted him to their own 53-man roster this week, meaning Seattle had to get rid of someone to make room.
Asked if there was concern that the Seahawks were going to lose Moore Carroll said simply “yes.’’
Moore, a seventh-round pick last April out of East Central (Oklahoma), has been on Seattle’s practice squad all season.
Players can be signed off a practice squad to another team’s 53-man roster at any time. Players don’t have to accept those offers as teams often pay them at rates equal to what they would get on the active roster as an inducement to stay. One player among several Seattle has done this with in the past is DeShawn Shead.
But Moore wanted to play and was going to take the offer (it hasn’t been confirmed which team wanted Moore). The Seahawks like Moore’s long-term future and wanted to keep him so they basically had no choice but to put him on the 53.
“We want to keep him on our team,’’ Carroll said.
Obviously, there are other ways Seattle could have opened a roster spot than waiving Freeney, and if he goes on to make an impact with Detroit it’ll be a highly-scrutinized decision.
But on Wednesday, Carroll seemed to indicate the team felt it was a gamble worth taking.
“We hated to do it, but we had to do something and that’s what happened,’’ Carroll said. “He’s such a tremendous guy, but we had to something and this is what it came to.’’