It’s been almost a month since the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl, but with the start of the new league now less than two weeks away, they were forced to make some business moves on Friday that included the anticipated release of defensive lineman Red Bryant. Now that he is a street free agent, many Pittsburgh Steelers fans are wondering if the black and gold will have interest in signing him.
Bryant, who was drafted by the Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Texas A&M, was released due to his playing time not matching the salary he was earning. As a result, the five-year, $35 million contract that he signed back in March of 2012 was terminated just two years into it.
Bryant played in and started 15 regular-season games in 2013 for the Seahawks in addition to playing in all three playoff games. In total, he played 561 snaps on defense last season.
As a rotational defensive end/tackle in the Seahawks hybrid front last season, Bryant’s play against the run was extremely better than it was the season prior. As a pass rusher, he registered two quarterbacks sacks, four hits and 15 hurries in just over 200 pass rushing opportunities.
The biggest thing with Bryant as it would relate to the Steelers would be seeing where they deem him a fit. Could he kick back inside and play as a one or two-gap nose tackle, or is left defensive end his best fit. He played a lot of three and five technique last season with the Seahawks, so left defensive end in a 3-4 defense might very well be his best position. He could, however, serve as an emergency nose tackle, so that versatility would certainly be a plus.
The Steelers are very familiar with Bryant and they even brought him to Pittsburgh for a pre draft visit back in 2008. While they appeared to like him, they passed over him in the third round and he wound up being selected nine picks before they picked in the fourth.
Like any other free agent the Steelers might have interest in over the course of the next several weeks, money will be a key issue when it comes to Bryant. Being as he’s probably a player that you can’t rely on playing more than about 600 snaps, it would be hard to give him anything more than $3 million a season, in my opinion. That would be the top end of the scale and with him about to turn 30, a three-year contract would likely be the maximum you would want to give him.
A three-year, $9 million contract with $5 million guaranteed would result in Bryant’s first-year cap hit being $2.333 million. Year two of that deal, which very well could be the last, would carry a cap charge of $2.833 million. That would give Bryant $6.5 million over the first two years. Should he need to be released after two years, he would count $1.333 million in dead money. Would that be enough? It’s really hard to tell, but he would be a legitimate option if indeed Ziggy Hood is allowed to run off elsewhere.