SEATTLE – Seattle released defensive tackle Craig Terrill on Tuesday, a move that can’t be considered a shock the way the Seahawks have pink-slipped veterans the past four days.
The surprise is who will replace him because it’s someone Seattle is actually familiar with.
Jordan Babineaux will be re-signed by the team to a one-year contract after releasing him on Monday from a contract that would have paid him more than $2 million in 2010. The salary he signed for was not disclosed.
This move was a matter of logistics. On Monday, Seattle had 10 defensive linemen on the roster including Terrill, but only one player who had ever played safety in a regular-season NFL game: Lawyer Milloy. Starter Earl Thomas and backup Kam Chancellor are both rookies.
Babineaux started for Seattle last season, and will now be a backup to both Milloy and Thomas.
Terrill, 30, was a popular veteran in his seventh season with the Seahawks. He was an important voice in Seattle’s locker room, and it remains possible he could re-sign with Seattle after the regular-season opener. As a vested veteran, Terrill’s one-year salary of $1.15 million would have been guaranteed had he been on the roster for the first week.
The move continues a trend of Seattle pruning the veterans from its roster. Terrill’s release leaves Seattle with just 10 players older than 30 entering this season.
The Seahawks have no long-term investments in their older players, marking a change of course under new general manager John Schneider. With Tim Ruskell as president, Seattle invested in older players.
Defensive end Patrick Kerney was signed to a six-year, $39.5 million contract in 2007 when he was 30 and coming off a season-ending injury to his pectoral muscle. He retired halfway through that deal.
Wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh was 31 when he signed with the Seahawks last year, and the new coaching staff and front office opted to cut him even though it will end up paying Houshmandzadeh more than $6 million this season.
Seattle still has veterans. Kicker Olindo Mare is 36, Milloy is the starting strong safety at age 36 and the Seahawks signed 32-year-old defensive end Raheem Brock on Monday.
The difference is those players are on year-to-year deals rather than long-term investments.
Seattle begins its regular season Sunday against San Francisco, and the question now is whether adding seven players to the team within two weeks of the regular-season opener makes the team better now.
“I think we’re a more talented football team, absolutely,” Schneider said. “We’re bigger, we’re faster.”