It was a bad week for veteran tight ends who imagined that they were pretty secure in their positions. On Tuesday, the Washington Redskins released Chris Cooley, who had been with them since he was selected in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft. And on Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks released Kellen Winslow in a move that surprised a lot of people. Seattle traded a conditional late-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in May for the services of the nine-year veteran when Winslow and new Bucs head coach Greg Schiano didn't see eye-to-eye.
The Seahawks signed former Cleveland Browns tight end Evan Moore to fill the roster spot opened by Winslow's exit.
One reason for Winslow's departure was money -- he was due $13.3 million over the remaining three years of his contract, and it's believed that a refusal to take a pay cut in Seattle led to his release. Winslow, who played 16 games in each of three seasons for the Bucs despite several knee injuries, had to be limited in practice and caught just three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.
That doesn't tell the whole story, however, because Winslow was frequently set as a potentially dynamic target for rookie quarterback Russell Wilson in practice. Set off the line while fellow tight end Zach Miller was often tasked to block alongside the tackle, Winslow looked to be a good fit in Seattle's offense, which used at least two tight ends 37 percent of the time, per Football Outsiders. That figure ranked 12th in the league.
"He's totally a part of that," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said in early August of Winslow's fit in Seattle's offense. "He has an extraordinary catching range. Kellen is doing a great job for us going with us right now. He's affected the way we think about the throwing game, and he's affected the quarterbacks too because you can feel when he's on the field. If you throw it near him he's going to catch it. That's that factor I'm talking about, it can happen with wide receivers. That's why I was so excited about Kellen coming in. That catching range, that expertise that some rare guys have, you want it when you can get it. I just want a little bit more."
Miller is scheduled to make $6 million this season and has three years left on a five-year, $34 million contract he signed in August of 2011. The Seahawks have also liked what they've seen from Anthony McCoy, who played for Carroll at USC and was selected by Seattle in the sixth round in 2010.
Selected in the first round of the 2004 draft by the Cleveland Browns, Winslow totaled 218 catches for 2,377 yards and 12 touchdowns in three seasons for the Buccaneers.
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