Shaun Alexander, who led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005, was released today by the team.

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KIRKLAND — Running back Shaun Alexander has been released by the Seahawks, the team announced this afternoon.

Alexander came to Seattle as a first-round pick in 2000 and in eight seasons became Seattle’s leading rusher. He signed a $63 million contract with the team in 2006 after being named the NFL’s most valuable player for the 2005 season. It was an eight-year contract, but Alexander was released after the first two years of the contract.

“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ll ever have to make and be part of with an organization,” Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said. “By the same token, you have to be able to make these tough decisions and we wanted to change the dynamic of the running game, top to bottom.”

The Seahawks did that with the additions of free agents Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett and offensive-line coach Mike Solari.

Alexander, 30, said in a statement he would play for another NFL team next season.

“I am healthy, energized and looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my NFL career,” Alexander said.

Alexander underwent a physical examination this week. He was recovering from offseason surgery to repair a crack in his wrist. He has been cleared to resume playing football.

Alexander said he had hoped to finish his career with the Seahawks. “I started my NFL career in Seattle and hoped I could remain with the team through the rest of my days as a player. That said, things change,” Alexander said.

Alexander, the only Seahawk to win a league MVP award, went on to thank the Seahawks, coach Mike Holmgren and the team’s fans in his statement.

The team had told Alexander at the end of last season it would possibly look at running backs in the free-agent market. Once the Seahawks signed Duckett and Jones in free agency, many expected Alexander would be released.

Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, both league highs, in 2005. Alexander led the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-10.

His production has dropped the past two seasons, as he has battled injuries. In 2006, he was limited to 10 games, and finished with 896 yards, an average of 3.6 yards per carry and seven rushing touchdowns. Last year, the numbers were similar — 13 games, 716 rushing yards, 3.5 average, four touchdowns.

In eight NFL seasons, all with the Seahawks, Alexander has rushed for 9,429 yards, which ranks 25th all-time. He has 100 rushing touchdowns (seventh-best all-time) and another 12 TDs receiving. His total of 112 touchdowns is 14th best in NFL history.

Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or