|Seahawks cut Alexander in favor of Jones, Duckett|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 22 April 2008 23:32|
The Seahawks capped their promise to overhaul their running game by granting Alexander his unconditional release Tuesday, hours after doctors cleared his surgically repaired left wrist for spring minicamps.
Alexander, 30, completed just two of the eight years in a $62 million deal he signed in March 2006 - two seasons of injuries, ineffectiveness and incessant boos.
``This is one of the toughest decisions I'll ever have to make and be a part of while with an organization. At the same time, you have to make these tough decisions,'' Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said.
The move was not unexpected yet was still a thudding end to Alexander's pinnacle-to-pits demise. It came just over two years after Seattle gave Alexander the big contract in the wake of him becoming the franchise's only league MVP, setting an NFL record with 28 touchdowns and leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl in 2006.
``We wanted to change the dynamic of the running game, top to bottom,'' Ruskell said. ``And this is another step in that direction.''
Seattle begins anew with 26-year-old running back Julius Jones, signed to a four-year deal last month after Marion Barber took his lead job in Dallas. That deal came a week after the Seahawks signed fellow free-agent T.J. Duckett, a 27-year-old who is more of a bruising runner than the shifty Jones. Duckett signed for five years.
It was after those two additions six weeks ago that the Seahawks told Alexander, who was to earn $4,475,000 this season, that his release may come soon.
``While it really isn't a surprise, this news marks a major transition in my life,'' Alexander said. ``I started my NFL career in Seattle and hoped I could remain with the team through the rest of my days as a player. That said, things change.''
Seattle also hired a new offensive line coach, Mike Solari, and signed a new starting left guard, Mike Wahle from Carolina, since declaring that a reconstruction of what was one of the league's least effective running games last season was the top offseason priority.
The Seahawks averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season, tied for the sixth-lowest mark in the league. Alexander set career lows as a starter with 716 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Seattle won its fourth consecutive NFC West title in spite of Alexander, not because of him.
And Seattle may not be done changing its backfield. Ruskell has said he may draft another running back.
``It shows you how ever-changing it is, how tough this game is, and you can't play forever,'' Ruskell said of cutting Alexander.
The three-time Pro Bowl runner said he is not retiring.
``I will be playing for another NFL team this fall, and doing everything I can to contribute,'' Alexander said. ``I am healthy, energized and looking forward to beginning the next chapter of my NFL career,'' he said.
``My family will remain in the Seattle area, and when my days in the NFL do eventually come to an end, I plan to retire here. ... Thank you, Seattle.''
Ruskell said no teams called seeking a trade for Alexander, Seattle's 19th overall draft choice in 2000. Yet he and Alexander believe another team will sign him soon.
``We wanted to give him the best chance before the draft that if someone wanted to make a decision on Shaun Alexander, they can now, because it gets a little harder after the draft. A lot of running backs get taken,'' Ruskell said.
But it's unlikely any team - already deeply absorbed in finalizing draft plans - would rush into an agreement in the days before the draft with a fading 30-year-old runner coming off two major injuries in two unproductive seasons.
``I look forward to hopefully returning to Qwest Field one day to play against the Seahawks,'' Alexander said, while thanking Seattle's fans, the same fans who booed him for most of last season and cheered when he was replaced during games.
Alexander's fade came from a broken foot, broken wrist, sprained knee and remodeled offensive line over the past two seasons. The cutback lanes he used to create began closing on him faster. His trademark hesitation, which used to deftly set up blocks, suddenly just invited emboldened defenders to swarm him in place - and his home fans to boo him.
Ruskell said the Seahawks haven't decided whether to make Alexander a June 1 cut, which could save them money against this season's salary cap, or have all $6.9 million of his prorated signing bonus count this year by dating the transaction before June 1. Ruskell said Seattle is in good enough of a position under the cap to make the move in either manner.