Seahawks release Chris Clemons

Posted Mar 12, 2014

Chris Clemons, who led the Seahawks in sacks in his first three seasons with the team, was released Wednesday as the club continued to clear space under its salary cap.

Chris Clemons was a bridge player for the Seahawks.

Not the card game, but the type of relentless pass rusher that helped the Seahawks’ defense morph from the 24th-ranked unit in the NFL in 2009, when it produced only 28 sacks; to the No. 1-ranked unit in 2013, when the Seahawks had 44 sacks. Clemons was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles in March 2010, just weeks after Pete Carroll was hired to be the Seahawks’ coach and John Schneider was brought in to be the general manager.

All Clemons did in his first three seasons was produce 33.5 sacks – 11 of the Seahawks’ 37 in 2010; 11 of their 33 in 2011; and 11.5 of their 36 in 2012.

But the team’s continuing pursuit of pass rushers has made Clemons expendable, as the Seahawks released him Wednesday – on the second day of the NFL free-agency period. The club was able to clear salary-cap space by releasing Clemons, who signed a three-year contact in 2012.

Clemons’ 2012 season ended when he tore a knee ligament in the wild-card playoff victory over the Washington Redskins – the Seahawks’ first road win in the postseason since 1983. The recovery from that injury forced Clemons to miss the first two games of the 2013 season, when his sack total dipped to 4.5 and others picked up the slack – most noticeably Michael Bennett (8.5) and Cliff Avril (eight), who were signed in free agency last year.

PHOTO GALLERY: Best of Chris Clemons

The Seahawks have now parted ways in the past two weeks with the starting ends from a defense that led the NFL in average points, yards and passing yards allowed during the 2013 season, as Red Bryant was released Feb. 28 and signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars over the weekend.

Avril can step in at the Leo end spot he shared with Clemons last season and the options to replace Bryant at the five-technique spot include Bennett, who was re-signed Monday after playing on a one-year contract last season; Jesse Williams, a fifth-round draft choice last year who spent his rookie season on injured reserve; and Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round draft choice in 2012 who also spent last season on IR.