Fresh off a Super Bowl victory, the Seattle Seahawks are now tasked with repeating. If the Seahawks are going to pull that off, they may have to do so without Red Bryant. The defensive end has been a mainstay on the Seattle defensive line, but the Seahawks will reportedly release the 29-year-old for salary cap purposes.
Bryant, a cog against the run, was set to count for $8.5 million against the 2014 salary cap. If Seattle does indeed release him as Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reported, it would save $5.5 million in cap space. Bryant, along with wide receiver Sidney Rice, has long been mentioned as a potential salary cap casualty. It's been reported the Seahawks will release both, although neither move has been made official.
Replacing Bryant poses an interesting challenge. A college defensive tackle, Bryant moved to defensive end in Pete Carroll's defensive scheme and thrived as a run-stopper in the base five-technique role. He played 46 percent of the snaps for Seattle last season.
The report indicated Seattle might try to use the free space to re-sign pending free agent Michael Bennett. Bennett often subbed in for Bryant on passing downs, making a significant impact last season. While Bennett is an excellent player, he isn't the run defender that Bryant is. Assuming Bryant is indeed released and doesn't return to Seattle on a lesser deal, the Seahawks will have to find a way to fill that void.
Danny Kelly of Field Gulls examined some potential replacements for Bryant, including a pair of young defensive linemen currently on the roster:
Assuming we've seen the last of Red in a Seahawk uniform, the Hawks do have some options at their disposal. Greg Scruggs was reportedly up to about 295 prior to tearing his ACL last summer and his length (6'3, 35" arms) and athleticism on the edge would be an interesting dynamic to test. On the other side of the coin, Jesse Williams' knee is apparently healed and he'll likely challenge for a spot on the DL rotation. Williams played 5-technique in Alabama's three-man front his junior year before moving to nose tackle his senior year, and some had said that he was better as an edge setter and disrupter against tackles than he was as a run-plugger against guard-center. Williams too has some interesting attributes in terms of athleticism and strength, so he's an option.
Kelly also mentioned the possibility of Bennett re-signing and playing more snaps, and even sliding Tony McDaniel over to the five-technique if he re-signs. It should be another very interesting offseason for the defending champs.
According to a report from Tim Graham of The Buffalo News, there is a growing disconnect between Bills general manger Doug Whaley, head coach Doug Marrone and the "old guard" in Buffalo's front office. Whaley and Marrone would reportedly like to make some changes, but have received resistance from veteran members of the front office. Brian Galliford of Buffalo Rumblings examined the situation:
The reports don't make clear exactly what changes are believed necessary by Whaley and Marrone. Those details are less important than the idea that they don't believe they have every tool they need to pull off one of the hardest jobs in pro football: turning around one of the league's worst franchises of the past two decades. Ultimately, that's a goal of the leaks to Graham - to posture Whaley and Marrone as the clean-up crew, fighting the good fight in trying to return the franchise to its winning ways - but it doesn't change the fact that the only man with the power to give them those tools is Brandon.
The combine has been full of a flurry of rumors surrounding Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers. The Cleveland Browns almost traded for him, he and general manager Trent Baalke aren't on speaking terms, he wanted to work with Mike Lombardi in Cleveland, etc. Matt Verderame gathered up all of the rumors and organized it into a timeline, even diving back into some rumors from Harbaugh's days at Stanford. Here is a sampling:
Saturday, 11:20 p.m.: Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle caught up with Harbaugh in Indianapolis and got the following quote from the 49ers leader:
"The report? Reee-diculous. Reee-diculous. No. Ridiculous."
"That was one of the issues," Jones said. "It was unfair to Bill, but it was the offense that we'd had since we got there and it was very difficult. That's why we had such a hard time articulating it early. That's why we made some of the switches we made during the middle of the season. All of it was just manifested by the fact that it was just very difficult for Jason to get out of that role."