Seahawks Cut $27 Million Starter in First Major Move of Free Agency: Report

Pete Carroll John Schneider

Getty Seahawks general manager John Schneider (left) and head coach Pete Carroll appear to have won the Russell Wilson trade.

The Seattle Seahawks are releasing starting defensive tackle Shelby Harris as free agency begins, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The move comes just days after also releasing starting guard Gabe Jackson as the team failed to find a trade partner for Harris.

“The Seahawks plan to release DL Shelby Harris, source says,” Garafolo tweeted on March 13, 2023. “Seattle has explored possible trades but hasn’t found a taker yet for the nine-year veteran who played well last season. Harris, who was part of the Russell Wilson deal, was set to make $9 million this upcoming season.”

Harris was a key piece in the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade last offseason, and there is a chance Noah Fant will be the lone veteran remaining from the deal on the Seahawks roster when next season kicks off. Drew Lock is a free agent, and Seattle is expected to have competition to re-sign the quarterback. Harris was slated to make $9 million in 2023 in the final season of a three-year, $27 million contract.

Shelby Harris Dropped Hint That His Release May Be Coming

According to Spotrac, Seattle heads into free agency with $30 million of available cap space. Harris was one of the Seahawks most consistent defensive linemen last season but the unit underwhelmed throughout 2022.

Seattle is expected to make a major overhaul on defense this offseason given the team’s available cap space combined with four draft picks in the first two rounds. Harris appeared to foreshadow being a potential cap casualty with a cryptic March 10 Instagram post.

“From 7th round pick 235 to going into 10 years in the league no matter where I’m at I’ll always be good #blessed #93,” Harris said days before his official release.

The Seahawks Are in Talks With Bobby Wagner About a Return to Seattle

The Seahawks have options if they want to pursue potential reunions with former players as Bobby Wagner, Shaquill Griffin and Frank Clark are all free agents after being released. Seahawks general manager John Schneider confirmed that the team has already been in contact with Wagner about a return to Seattle.

“We have been able to (talk to Wagner) now, so (head coach Pete Carroll) and I were able to talk to him the other day, and we had a great, awesome, frank conversation, so he knows where we are, and we know where he’s at,” Schneider explained during his weekly Seattle Sports show on March 9. “We have so much respect for him personally and professionally, so we were able to talk through some things and yeah, we know where it’s going.”

Seattle was able to structure Geno Smith’s new three-year contract in a way that allows the franchise to maximize cap space this offseason. Smith is slated to have just a $10.1 million cap hit in 2023, per Spotrac.

“When you guys get your chance and you really dig in, you’ll see that it is leaning that way (incentives),” Carroll said during a March 7 interview with Seattle Sports’ “Brock and Salk.” “We’re counting on him coming through and doing the things that he was able to do last year. And if he does that, he’s gonna get rewarded.

“We know that if he’s able to come back and do that, he’s gonna have a great season and we’re gonna be in great shape and we’re gonna have a real chance to be at our best. So it is heavily structured that way. And I know that he’s gambling a little bit (on himself).”