Ifedi was a first-round pick in 2016 — taken with the 31st and final pick in the round that year (after New England forfeited its selection as a penalty for Deflategate) — and the Seahawks could have exercised an option for the 2020 season for Ifedi, paying him $10.3 million.
Players had to be informed in writing by Friday.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the team no longer considers Ifedi as a part of its future. The Seahawks could still offer an extension to Ifedi at any time.
But it does mean that, for now, the Seahawks appear to be taking a wait-and-see mode with Ifedi, who has started 44 of a possible 48 regular-season games since being drafted out of Texas A&M.
The fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only and would not have become guaranteed until the first day of the league year in 2020.
Ifedi is due to make $1.577 million in 2019 in what will be the final season of his rookie contract.
The fifth-year option on first-round picks originated as part of the league’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in 2011 and is generally regarded as a team-friendly device, allowing clubs control over first-round picks for an additional season.
But the Seahawks have yet to use it, in part because it has had so few first-round picks.
The Seahawks also declined the option on 2011 first-rounder James Carpenter and 2012 first-rounder Bruce Irvin and did not have first-round picks in 2013, 2014 or 2015.
Carpenter and Irvin played out their rookie deals and signed as free agents elsewhere — Carpenter with the Jets and Irvin with the Raiders.
There had been some thought the Seahawks might pick up Ifedi’s option because he has been a regular starter and right tackle is a difficult position to find stability.
The Seahawks don’t have anyone on the roster who has started at that position regularly in the NFL and didn’t take any tackles in the 2019 draft. The Seahawks do have some young players who could step in there, notably George Fant — whom the team tendered as a restricted free agent this year — and Jamarco Jones, a fifth-round pick in 2018 out of Ohio State who was backing up Ifedi before suffering a season-ending ankle injury in the preseason. Jones replaced Ifedi for a few series with the first team in a couple of training-camp practices.
The Seahawks list Elijah Nkansah as a tackle and have been said to be impressed with his quick assimilation of the playbook. He stepped in to play one snap at right tackle when Ifedi and Fant were injured against Kansas City.
Fant started and played right tackle in a 38-31 win over the Chiefs that Ifedi missed with a groin injury and also played right tackle in the season finale against Arizona when Ifedi returned to play right guard in place of the injured D.J. Fluker.
The Seahawks may be waiting and seeing how the personnel on their line works out this year and if Fant or Jones becomes a possibility to step in at that spot before making a decision on Ifedi. They also might prefer to try to sign Ifedi to a deal that would mean a smaller cap hit than $10.3 million in 2020, which would be the fourth highest of players who are expected to still be with the team.
The price the team would have had to pay Ifedi was an average of the 3-25 highest-paid players at his position.
Ifedi has started at right tackle the last two seasons (other than one game at right guard last year because of injury) after playing right guard as a rookie in 2016.
According to NFL.com, the options of 17 players were exercised.