Pete Carroll and John Schneider have made some head-scratching decisions this week.
First, Carroll made a string of admitted errors that helped his team lose at home to Atlanta on Monday. And now Schneider is backstepping on a key move he made a few weeks ago, dropping Dwight Freeney because the Seahawks decided they can no longer afford him.
Schneider chose to drop the productive 37-year-old pass rusher because the Hawks suddenly ran into a big injury storm — losing Richard Sherman and possibly Kam Chancellor for the season. Schneider could have gone to another vet, perhaps Bobby Wagner, for some cap relief. But, the Hawks had 11 defensive linemen and Dion Jordan has played well in his two games, so Schneider decided to lop one of his few luxury players.
“We had to make roster stuff happen,” Carroll said. “We had some injuries and some things that we had to deal with. It is a spot where we have some guys that have played. We are a little bit deeper there. We hated to do it, but we had to do something and that’s where it happened.”
Carroll confirmed they waived Freeney due to injuries on their roster and “cap concerns.” Freeney was counting just $442,000 against the cap, with 60 percent of that still to come, so they recouped only about $265,000.
Seattle promoted rookie wide receiver David Moore from the practice squad because another team was about to poach him. Moore will cost about $121,000 more as an active player the rest of the way.
That means the release of Freeney added about $144,000 to the $50,000 to $150,000 they already had in cap space.
Schneider could have gone to Wagner or Michael Bennett for space. But the Hawks just gave Bennett a new deal last December and probably don’t want to increase future cap hits. They could have saved about $940,000 by converting Wagner’s remaining $1.4 million salary to bonus, but they obviously didn’t want to do that either.
So, Freeney is gone, despite a productive four games in which he notched three sacks.
Schneider and cap expert Matt Thomas have to hope they don’t have to do much more juggling over the final six weeks. They already have been very busy this season, adding big salaries in Sheldon Richardson ($8.1 million) and Duane Brown ($5 million) and trying to make up for $25.5 million on IR/PUP players — led by Sherman ($13.6 million) and Cliff Avril ($5.5 million).
The Hawks replaced Sherman with Byron Maxwell, who is costing around $319,000 on a minimum salary as Miami pays the rest of his guaranteed $8.5 million salary.
Freeney was the replacement for Avril — until Jordan came back. He had a sack in his first game and four tackles (one for loss) vs. the Falcons.
Schneider and Carroll apparently thought Jordan, Marcus Smith and Branden Jackson were enough depth behind Bennett and Frank Clark — and that Freeney’s contributions weren’t worth $265,000.