RENTON -- The Seahawks promoted wide receiver David Moore from their practice squad after releasing defensive end Dwight Freeney on Wednesday.
Why did they release Freeney after recording three sacks in four games? We'll attempt to give some of the variables at play and why the decision was made. It wasn't any single reason why the Seahawks elected to release Freeney but a culmination of several factors.
Here are four reasons why the Seahawks elected to release Freeney on Tuesday.
1. Injuries have created depth concerns elsewhere on the roster.
It's likely the Seahawks will be without cornerback Shaquill Griffin (concussion), running back Mike Davis (groin) and right guard Oday Aboushi (dislocated shoulder) this week due to injuries sustained on Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
The injury to Griffin is the most pressing and could result in the Seahawks needing to call up a cornerback from the practice squad late in the week for depth reasons. With Griffin and Richard Sherman out, it leaves Seattle with Jeremy Lane, Byron Maxwell, Justin Coleman and Neiko Thorpe as the only four cornerbacks on the active roster.
"We had to make roster stuff happen," head coach Pete Carroll said. "We had some injuries and some things we had to deal with. It is a spot where we have some guys that have played that spot. We're a little bit deeper there. We hated to it but we had to do something and that's what happened.
So why wasn't a cornerback brought up instead of a wide receiver?
2. They were going to lose David Moore.
Moore, a seventh-round pick by Seattle in May, has been on the team's practice squad throughout the entirety of the regular season. Opposing teams can sign players off other teams' practice squads and that's exactly what was happening with Moore.
"He's done a great job. He's a very versatile athlete," Carroll said of Moore. "Much like we saw the ability that Mike Davis had to come off the practice squad and help us, hopefully we can find a way to do that with David and we want to keep him on our team."
Instead of losing a rookie receiver with a possible long-term future with the team, they elected to move on from the veteran defensive end that was brought in to solve a short-term problem.
Seattle could bring up Trovon Reed or Mike Tyson from the practice squad at the end of the week to address any depth concerns at cornerback if they feel it's necessary.
3. Financial implications.
The reality of the trade to acquire Duane Brown from the Houston Texans - and the return of Jeremy Lane to the roster after a failed physical - is that the Seahawks are very tight against the salary cap.
According to NFLPA records, the Seahawks had just $189,034 in cap space, which is the least of any team in the league.
Freeney was set to make $352,941 in base salary the rest of the year. Moore's salary will cost Seattle $164,118 the rest of the year. If Kam Chancellor is placed on injured reserve, the Seahawks will add another player - and another contract - to the roster for the final weeks of the season. The release of Freeney could free up the money they need to get through the remainder of the season while remaining under the salary cap.
"We just had to do something and this is where it came to," Carroll said. "There are cap concerns and all kinds of issues that we're dealing with right now."
With Lane's failed physical and return to the Seahawks, it caused the team to have far less buffer space against the cap than they had anticipated. It's just the reality of the way that deal played out.
4. Freeney's production had slipped the last two weeks despite limited role.
After recording three sacks in his first two games with the Seahawks, Freeney didn't have much impact during their last two games against Arizona and Atlanta.
Freeney played 41 snaps against the Cardinals with just one quarterback hit recorded and 17 snaps against the Falcons without recording a single statistic.
The Seahawks were carrying 11 defensive linemen at the time of Freeney's release, which is more that Seattle typically carries. Marcus Smith is back from a concussion that kept him out against Arizona. Dion Jordan has given the Seahawks more than could have expected in his two games after coming off the non-football injury list as well.
With Michael Bennett, Frank Clark, Smith, Jordan and Branden Jackson available at defensive end as well, the team still has plenty of depth at end. Freeney had a limited role. He wasn't used on special teams. He was a pass rush specialist. With the injuries elsewhere, Seattle's roster was stressed and keeping a player with such a narrow expertise became difficult.
Freeney is one of the best pass rushers in league history. He's a great personality in the locker room that was instantly accepted by the rest of the team due to his impeccable credentials. If any of the above reasons didn't exist, he could very easily still be on the roster right now.
"We weighed everything. There is no question that you miss stuff because he is such a tremendous guy," Carroll said.
But Griffin is hurt, Chancellor may be headed to injured reserve, the team was going to lose Moore to an opponent and the financial side of it played a factor as well. It's an even changing puzzle of variables that the Seahawks have to manage and in this instance, Freeney drew the short straw.
Freeney was claimed off waivers on Wednesday by the Detroit Lions and head coach Jim Caldwell, who Freeney played for with the Indianapolis Colts.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Defensive end Dwight Freeney #93 of the Seattle Seahawks looks to block running back Lamar Miller #26 of the Houston Texans during the first half of the game at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)