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Sports >  Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks withdraw restricted free agent tender to safety Ryan Neal

March 31, 2023 Updated Fri., March 31, 2023 at 5:37 p.m.

Seattle Seahawks defensive back Ryan Neal (26) celebrates after making an interception against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas.   (Associated Press)
Seattle Seahawks defensive back Ryan Neal (26) celebrates after making an interception against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas.  (Associated Press)
Bob Condotta Seattle Times

The Seahawks have withdrawn their restricted free agent right-of-first-refusal tender to safety Ryan Neal, according to official NFL transactions listed Friday afternoon.

The tender would have meant Neal got a salary of $2.67 million for the 2023 season if he made the initial 53-man roster. Placing the tender on Neal meant Seattle had the option to match any offer Neal might have gotten on the open market but would not get any compensation if he signed elsewhere.

Instead, Neal becomes an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team.

That could include re-signing with the Seahawks but on a different deal that would mean a lesser cap hit for the 2023 season as well as maybe a bonus for Neal.

It also means that for now, Seattle has cleared $2.67 million against its current cap number.

The Seahawks needed to make some moves to free up some cap space after bringing back linebacker Bobby Wagner, who has a $5.5 million cap number for the 2023 season.

After Wagner’s number was added this week, Seattle was down to $4.1 million in overall cap space, according to, but $5.5 million in the red in “effective” cap space, which takes into account money that will be needed to sign draft picks. Seattle currently has 10, including picks five and 20 in the first round.

“We’re pretty tapped out,” general manager John Schneider said this week at the league meetings in Phoenix. “So we have to be very careful how we proceed.”

Seattle also added to its depth at safety in free agency with the signing of former Giant Julian Love to a two-year contract worth up to $12 million.

Love added to a group that already includes veterans Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, who have the two highest salary cap numbers on the team for 2023 — Adams at $18.11 million and Diggs at $18.10 million.

Adams is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in the season opener last year against Denver, and it remains unclear when he will be available.

But Schneider said at the league meetings in Phoenix this week that “we’ve gotten good reports” on Adams’ progress. Coach Pete Carroll said he was hopeful Adams could be ready for the start of training camp.

Love, who started 16 games for the Giants last season, would be the hedge if Adams is not ready for season. If he is, the Seahawks envision using three-safety sets regularly, with Adams playing a de facto weakside linebacker role. Love also has experience in that role.

“The versatility is awesome,” Schneider said of Love. “Really, really on top of his stuff.”

While the signing of Love led to some speculation about the future of Adams, given his injury and big contract, both Carroll and Schneider made clear that the two things were not related.

“The Julian thing had nothing to do with Jamal,” Schneider said. “It’s great, if Jamal can’t go right away we got a guy (who can fill in for him). Damn good player. But that wasn’t a Jamal issue.”

Neal had become one of Seattle’s more popular players since signing to the team’s practice squad in 2019 after being released by Atlanta.

Neal made the active roster for the final three games of that season, and then after again starting the 2020 season on the practice squad, he was signed to the active roster in September. He spent the rest of that season and the 2021 and 2022 years on the active roster.

Neal, 27, gradually worked his way into a regular role in three-safety packages and started nine games in 2020 and 2021 due to injuries, usually filling in for Adams. Neal started 10 games last year when Adams was again hurt.

Neal, though, battled injuries of his own in 2022, including a knee issue that caused him to miss the last three games of the regular season. He also dealt with an ankle injury that he said after the season would require a cleanup surgery.

The Seahawks have second-year player Joey Blount, who made the roster as an undrafted free agent last season, on their roster as depth at safety.

Neal had been the only one of Seattle’s four restricted free agents to get a tender. The others were receiver Penny Hart, running back Tony Jones Jr. and linebacker Tanner Muse.

Hart and Muse remain unsigned while Jones signed with the Denver Broncos.

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