The Seahawks have officially announced the release of WR Sidney Rice and DE Red Bryant.
Rice caught 15 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns in 8 games in 2013 before tearing his ACL. It will be interesting to see if Rice gets much interest on the free agent market. I think it's probably most likely a team may offer him a one-year 'prove it' type of deal that mitigates the obvious injury risk that comes along with Rice's knee and history. If the market is cold for the veteran, it's possible that Seattle re-signs him to a short term deal that keeps him with the team and hedges their roster for free agency and the Draft (meaning, they don't HAVE to go out and draft a big receiver).
That said, Seattle already signed a 'hedge' player at Rice's position -- inking CFL standout and former Kentucky Wildcat Chris Matthews to a futures deal. He's not necessarily Rice's replacement, but it give the club some options if the draft board or free agency doesn't fall their way.
As for Bryant, the locker room leader's role had lessened this year in Seattle's heavy defensive line rotation and move to more three-man fronts, and his cap hit of $8.5M in 2014 was going to be pretty steep (Seahawks will save $5.5M against the cap, factoring in Red's dead money).
Bryant played on 46% of Seattle's defensive snaps this past year, and while he saw action on 51% of snaps versus the power-run heavy Niners in the NFC Championship Game, he only played 18 snaps in the Super Bowl while the Hawks faced the pass-heavy Broncos. Red will now likely test the free agency waters before agreeing to any reduced deal with Seattle, assuming the team approaches him with anything like that. It's already been reported that Kansas City has interest in Red, and the Patriots made a run at him two years ago when he was a free agent.
Assuming we've seen the last of Red in a Seahawk uniform, the Hawks do have some options at their disposal. Greg Scruggs is now up to 311 pounds and his length (6'3, 35.5" arms) and athleticism on the edge would be an interesting dynamic to test. On the other side of the coin, Jesse Williams' knee is apparently healed, per Pete Carroll, and he'll likely challenge for a spot on the DL rotation. Williams played 5-technique in Alabama's three-man front his junior year before moving to nose tackle his senior year, and some had said that he was better as an edge setter and disrupter against tackles than he was as a run-plugger against guard-center. Williams too has some interesting attributes in terms of athleticism and strength, so he's an option.
A third option could be for the Seahawks to re-sign veteran DT Tony McDaniel to a modest deal (assuming he doesn't get tons of interest on the FA market considering his age), and kick him out to the edge in Red's role. McDaniel played both at the nose and at defensive end as part of a rotation in Miami's defense prior to signing with Seattle this past year, and his specialty is disrupting at the point of attack and driving the offensive line back or anchoring against double teams. McDaniel also has Red's supreme length on the edge at 6'7, 310 pounds, so it's an interesting option that would cost the club significantly less.
Finally, Seattle could obviously look to free agency or the draft to fill Red's run stopping base five-technique role. They could also use Michael Bennett as a defensive end on base downs. While Red's been key to Seattle's run defense over the past few years, it's worth keeping in mind that most 4-3 defenses operate with a 285-odd pound defensive end on the strong side.
Regardless, while these moves were necessary for the long-term health of the cap, they're obviously pretty disappointing from a fan perspective. Both Rice and Bryant played a role in Seattle's run to the Super Bowl this year and over the past few years, and both are veteran leaders in the locker room.