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Seahawks release veteran defensive end Cochran

Mike Sando Tacoma News Tribune

The letter Seattle Seahawks president Tim Ruskell sent to players in March left little room for interpretation.

Participation in the team’s off-season workout program was one of his expectations. Some players showed up. Veteran defensive end Antonio Cochran chose to stay away, and on Sunday the Seahawks released him.

Cochran’s termination after six seasons with the team stemmed from factors that went beyond workouts, of course. The 29-year-old veteran stood to earn $1.5 million this season, and the team had decided to build its defense around smaller, quicker ends.

Whatever the reasoning, Cochran apparently did not fit. He leaves the Seahawks with 15 1/2 sacks in 82 games, including 6 1/2 sacks last season.

The Seahawks appeared to lack quality depth at the position even with Cochran on the roster.

Perhaps to that end, Ruskell sent a conditional draft choice to Chicago on Sunday for defensive end Alain Kashama.

The Bears had more defensive ends than they could keep. Their general manager, Jerry Angelo, worked previously with Ruskell in Tampa Bay. He and Ruskell are close friends.

Kashama, 25, was an undrafted free agent from Michigan in 2004. He grew up in Montreal and speaks French in addition to English. With the Bears, he played in three games as a backup and spent eight weeks on the practice squad, finishing the season with one tackle. Kashama’s cousin is former Michigan and NFL running back Tim Biakabutuka.

Cochran, meanwhile, is expected to attract interest on the open market. A fourth-round draft choice from Georgia in 1999, he started seven games in each of the last two seasons.

The Seahawks signed Cochran to a four-year, $10 million contract in 2003. They reduced his 2005 base salary from $2 million to $1.5 million earlier this year, and by late last week there were six defensive ends working ahead of him in practice.

Cochran did not play during the Seahawks’ exhibition game Saturday night. His contract was scheduled to count $2.25 million against the salary cap this season; releasing Cochran reduces that figure to $750,000 this season and $750,000 in 2006.

Cochran’s release came two days before NFL teams are required to reduce their rosters to 65 players.

Receiver Jason Willis was also released Sunday.

Womack out six weeks

The Seahawks could be without starting right tackle Floyd Womack for the first four games of the regular season.

Womack suffered a triceps injury Saturday night and did not return to the Seahawks’ 23-17 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

Sean Locklear is expected to start at right tackle while Womack is unavailable.

The six-week timetable comes as a relief to the Seahawks, who initially feared that Womack might miss the season.

Locklear has played effectively when called upon during his two NFL seasons, both with Seattle.

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