The Seattle Seahawks have released cornerback Cary Williams, who started the first 10 games of the season before being benched against the 49ers and inactive the last two weeks.

Share story

The Seattle Seahawks have released veteran cornerback Cary Williams, the team announced Monday afternoon.

Williams, signed to a three-year, $18 million deal in the off-season that included $7 million guaranteed, has been a healthy inactive the last two weeks after having started the first 10 games of the season.

Williams was benched in the third quarter of the win against the 49ers on Nov. 22 and has not played since, inactive for games against the Steelers and Vikings with DeShawn Shead taking over the starting role, instead.

Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard said last Thursday that Williams remained “battling” for playing time.

“He’s battling right now,” Richard said. “He’s battling right now. He’s still a part of our group, and everybody’s always battling. There’s nothing guaranteed for anyone. We all understand that. He’s battling right now to essentially seize his spot back. He’s come back out here with a great attitude, locked back in, focused back in so everybody’s competing.”

Seattle signed Williams in March, wanting a veteran to help replace the departed Byron Maxwell. Williams had been released by the Eagles, who then signed Maxwell, with the two teams in some ways essentially trading cornerbacks.

Williams started the first 10 games and earned praise for his play in some games, with coaches a few weeks ago saying he had worked hard to master the team’s kick-step coverage technique, something he had not used in his previous stops — Williams started every game in 2011-12 for the Ravens and 2013-14 for the Eagles.

But Williams was benched late in the third quarter against the 49ers and replaced by Shead after blowing a coverage that led to a 36-yard gain for tight end Vance McDonald. Asked last Monday about Williams’ role on the team now, coach Pete Carroll said only that “right now he’s trying to fight for playing time, trying to get back in. Shead did a good job and we feel pretty good about DeShawn coming back again this week.”

Pro Football Focus last week had Williams rated 96th among 114 NFL cornerbacks this season.

One reason Williams was not active when not starting is that he does not play prominently on special teams.

The Seahawks also now have added depth at cornerback with Jeremy Lane healthy again and having played the last two weeks.

Still, while it seemed obvious Williams would not be back in 2016 it’s a little of a surprise that the move is made today since the Seahawks will not receive any immediate financial benefit since his salary of $3.5 million for this season is guaranteed.

However, the Seahawks will save almost $4 million against the salary cap in 2016 by releasing the 30-year-old Williams. However, Williams has dead money values of $2.3 million in 2016 and$1.16 million in 2017, according to OvertheCap.com.

After being benched, Williams said he was not hurt and said he would work to get back in the lineup.

“It wasn’t necessarily with the technique this week,’’ Williams said. “It was just more of a mental thing than anything. Maybe I was thinking about things too hard or maybe I was looking into it a little bit different or maybe my eyes weren’t necessarily in the right place. I don’t know why. I felt like I prepared pretty well for it, but for some reason I didn’t go out there and play my best ball today.”

And his time in Seattle is now done.