As originally reported by Jason La Canfora and now confirmed by the team, the Seahawks have released former first-round draft pick Kentwan Balmer. Balmer was selected 29th overall by the 49ers as a DT out of North Carolina but was moved to DE in their 3-4 defense. He never really caught on in San Francisco, starting zero games and sitting out a lot of 2009 on the IR. He the abruptly went AWOL from 49ers camp at the beginning of last season and was traded to the Seahawks shortly thereafter for a sixth round pick.
The Seahawks evidently believed they could light a fire under his ass but it never really panned out (Balmer had connections with former 49ers GM and now Seahawks Senior Personnel Executive Scot McCloughan). He did start 11 games in 2010 and collected 43 tackles due to the injuries to Brandon Mebane, Red Bryant, and Colin Cole, but he wasn't effective shedding blocks or stopping the run, and didn't really fit at DE or on the inside going forward for the Seahawks. The loss of the sixth round pick is not a big deal in the larger scheme of things though it does sting a bit right now. Generally I like the approach of taking relatively low-cost chances on first-round flameouts and hoping they can get it together, but chalk this one up to the L column.
Obviously, the interior defensive line, specifically the undertackle 3-tech spot, becomes a major concern area with Balmer's release (not that it wasn't a major concern area before). Right now the Seahawks have DT/DE Alan Branch, mostly untested at the 3-tech spot, as their starter. Past him, Pep Levingston, Jay Alford, Teryl White, and David Howard are likely backups. If you've never heard of most of these players, you're normal.
What the Seahawks do now for that position is up in the air but I have the feeling they aren't satisfied with their personnel at the moment. I expect a trade, or more likely a FA pickup after 53-man roster cuts, will attempt to fill out the depth there but in any case, it's a little frightening. Without being too much of a Debbie Downer, things could get messy on the D-Line this season while the Seahawks continue their rebuild.
To fill the now vacant roster spot, the Seahawks re-signed a personal favorite of mine, RB Vai Taua. Hopefully he'll get 20 carries for 150 yards on Saturday. (More likely, he'll get 3 or 4 carries for 4 yards). In all honesty though, I'm glad the Hawks brought Taua back, lets see if he can stick a little longer this time around.