Tim Ruskell overpaid to sign Deon Grant. I think he knew it too. Ruskell signed Grant to a six-year, $30 million contract because the Seahawks were in the thick of contention. Grant was a good safety, but his value to Seattle was in the player he replaced, Michael Boulware, and his marginal value to a contender. Football emphasizes the weakest link more than baseball, and so replacement value is presumably greater. A lineup of eight Albert Pujols and one Willie Bloomquist would be historically good, whereas an offensive line made up Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Kevin Mawae, Larry Allen and Stephon Heyer would still allow quite a few sacks. Grant did not have to be a very good safety to greatly improve the Seahawks secondary.
The same year Grant signed, prorated bonuses extended from a five- to a six-year limit. Seattle has paid $5.75 million of Grant's $11.5 million signing bonus. So by cutting Grant, they accelerate that remaining cap hit, but avoid Grant averaging $5.65 million against the cap in 2010-2012.
Deon turned 31 on Sunday. I think it's bad business cutting someone so close to their birthday, but so it goes. His contract in isolation was not onerous, but Grant did cost a lot for a safety. Seattle should be in good cap shape. The Seahawks are no longer spending towards Matt Hasselbeck's prorated bonus, and whatever his decision, should be freed from Jones' contract through retirement or release. That does not mean they should not hope to further improve their situation, but I do not think cutting Grant was a form of salary purge.
Instead, it mostly reflects the team's evaluation of Deon Grant the player, his future, and the talent that can replace him. Grant played strong safety, and strong safety is the weaker class among the safeties. It is possible that Seattle moves Jordan Babineaux to strong safety to accommodate a talent like Eric Berry or Taylor Mays, because it is not like Babs is entrenched at the position. The team has flexibility. Seattle is not locked into adding a strong or free safety.
Seattle is now a starter short. Grant was a good player with flaws. He was undependable in man cover and a weakness in the box, and the Seahawks, and Pete Carroll's Trojans, love to play the safety up. Seattle has a young defense, and adding a cornerstone talent at safety that can grow and lead the Seahawks is exciting. Personally, I hope Grant can land somewhere that better takes advantage of his skills. He seemed most at home working in a deep zone, and maybe can land somewhere that runs a base cover 2. The upshot is that Seattle, drafting at six and 14, seemingly desperate to add a quarterback through an avenue other than the early part of the draft, enters the Eric Berry, but also Taylor Mays sweepstakes. That is sure to thrill and terrify.