RENTON — Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called it a matter of trust that three veteran players the team cut over the weekend then quickly re-signed a day or two later, moves that allowed Seattle to use their roster spots for other purposes for a little while during the critical cutdown from 90 to 53.
But for the two most notable of those three veterans — backup quarterback Geno Smith and receiver Jaron Brown — there was also a little bit of resisting temptation.
Each was back in his usual place in the team’s locker room Thursday as the Seahawks continued preparation for Sunday’s regular season opener against Cincinnati, re-signed just as the team had told them would be the case when they were released.
But for about 36 to 48 hours over the weekend, each was a free agent.
And they said that during that time, other teams began to inquire to see if they’d be interested, just in case.
“I had some teams call me, actually offering me more money,’’ said Smith, who was the starting quarterback for the Jets in 2013 and 2014 but knows he’s resigned to being a backup with the Seahawks. “But I decided to stay.’’
Smith, who had a 100.4 passer rating during the preseason while completing 18 of 34 passes for 282 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions to beat out Paxton Lynch for the backup job, was reported by Spotrac.com to have returned for the same contract he had previously, paying him the NFL veteran minimum of $805,000.
“It’s always tempting when you get offered more money, right?’’ Smith said. “But I didn’t want to move.’’
Smith also said he simply didn’t want to betray the Seahawks after he had agreed to the plan to be released for a day or so while Seattle made some other moves.
In Smith’s case, being released helped the Seahawks out of a roster logjam when they traded two players — Barkevious Mingo and Jacob Martin — for Jadeveon Clowney.
However, because the quick-moving and complicated trade couldn’t get approved in time for Saturday’s official roster cutdown from 90 to 53, Seattle had to come up with a spot for a day to keep both Mingo and Martin on the roster until it became official. When the trade went through Sunday, Smith was quickly re-signed.
Smith and Brown are both vested veterans so they did not have to go through waivers, instead becoming immediate free agents, meaning they could turn down any offer. The same situation was also faced by fullback Nick Bellore, who also re-signed.
The Seahawks tried something similar last season when they released veteran defensive tackle Tom Johnson prior to a game at Chicago, so they could get Shalom Luani on the roster to help out an injury-depleted secondary. Seattle’s only other apparent option that week, given their roster situation at the time, was to waive rookie tackle Poona Ford. But Seattle figured Ford would get claimed and asked Johnson to sit out for a week and then re-sign.
Johnson, who already was assured all of his salary by Seattle, instead signed with the Vikings, able to essentially double-dip and get paid by both teams.
“That’s the risk you take in these types of situations,’’ Smith said when told of what happened to the Seahawks a year ago with Johnson. “But I’m a man of my word. I kept my word.’’
So did Brown, even if Brown initially seemed to indicate he might be headed out of town.
Brown’s release was initially reported by the NFL Network as necessary for salary-cap reasons so the Seahawks could fit in Clowney’s $8 million cap hit for this season — Brown’s release would have saved Seattle $2.75 million against the salary cap. But what Seattle really needed was a roster spot for a day so it could keep tight end Ed Dickson on the initial 53-man roster and then put him on Injured Reserve. That means Dickson can return after eight games. Had he been placed on IR before Saturday he would be out for the season.
Shortly after the news broke of his release, Brown tweeted what sounded like goodbye, writing: “Thank you Seattle! Fell in love with this city, fans and organization! Next chapter for me’’
Brown said the team had told him it intended to re-sign him but said he sent the tweet because “you never really know with those certain situations, so you can never be too sure.’’
Like Smith, Brown said he got a few calls from other teams.
“It was kind of a quick process,’’ he said. “I had a couple of teams showing interest but ultimately it’s a lot of factors when deciding to make that decision.’’
Brown’s new contract numbers have yet to be revealed but it’s likely he’s on a similar deal to what he had before, with a base salary of $2.75 million.
Even though he said he knew what the situation was, Brown said the brief period when he was not officially part of the team was a little unsettling.
“Yeah, it’s something I never had to go through before, so it was a new experience for me just kind of processing everything,’’ said Brown.
Also sweating it out a little bit was offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who has talked enthusiastically about Brown’s value to the Seahawks all offseason.
Brown spent most of the preseason as the other starting receiver in the base offense alongside Tyler Lockett, and is the only other receiver on the roster besides Lockett who has played in the league for more than a year.
Those facts made Brown’s release a surprise when it was initially reported.
“I was nervous,” said Schottenheimer. “But I was the first one, or if not the first, the second, to hug him when he came back in the building. … In today’s day and age, (that’s) how you build a roster. And I think the way I feel about Jaron, I just trust him.’’
Trust that was ultimately repaid in full.
Roughly 50 hours after he tweeted that he was on to his next chapter, Brown on Monday afternoon tweeted again “Happy to be Home!’’