The Seattle Seahawks will release cornerback DeShawn Shead on Monday to give him a chance to hit free agency after his contract tolled for the 2018 season, according to his agent Cameron Foster.
Foster told 950 KJR at the University of Washington's Pro Day workouts on Saturday that the Seahawks have interest in re-signing Shead but are giving him the chance to test free agency. A team source confirmed the plan to terminate Shead's contract.
The move gives Shead a fair chance at free agency now that he's fully recovered from a torn ACL sustained in the 2016 postseason. Shead has experienced a run of bad luck from a contract perspective. He has spent six seasons in the NFL and has not yet been able to hit free agency with a chance to test his true market value.
The Seahawks, Shead and Foster all expected that he would be an unrestricted free agent when his contract expired next week. Instead, the NFL informed them that Shead's contract would toll and he would remain tethered to the team. The Seahawks are allowing him to hit the market as they all anticipated would be the case in the first place.
Foster said that Shead already has a visit scheduled with the Detroit Lions on Wednesday.
After spending much of his first two seasons on the practice squad, Shead appeared in the final five games of the 2012 season on the roster. However, six games is needed to accrue a season toward free agency. That single game kept Shead as a restricted free agent after the 2016 season. Shead then sustained a torn ACL in a playoff loss to Atlanta in January 2017, which killed any potential market he would have as a free agent. The Seahawks declined to offer him a restricted free agent tender but re-signed him to a one-year deal last March.
Shead began the season on the physically unable to perform list as he continued to rehabilitate his knee injury throughout the season. He appeared in two games at the end of the year but his contract tolled as he still wasn't healthy by the end of Week 6. The clause of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that applies to Shead's contract is stated below.
"Any player placed on a Physically Unable to Perform list (“PUP”) will be paid his full Paragraph 5 Salary while on such list. His contract will not be tolled for the period he is on PUP, except in the last year of his contract, when the player’s contract will be tolled if he is still physically unable to perform his football services as of the sixth regular season game."
The tolling of his contract means he would have played the 2018 season at the same contract amount he earned with the team in 2017.
Shead started 15 games for Seattle in 2016 at right cornerback. He replaced Cary Williams as the starter late in the 2015 season and kept the job the next year before being injured in the playoffs. Shead had 81 tackles with an interception, forced fumble and 14 passes defended in his lone season as a full-time starter.
Shead was limited to special teams duty in his two games with Seattle at the end of 2017 after returning from his knee injury.
With the release of Richard Sherman on Friday, the potential to keep Shead as an experienced veteran and potential starter would certainly be appealing for the Seahawks. Additionally, Shead has the versatility to play safety as well, which could be beneficial with Kam Chancellor's career being in doubt due to a neck injury.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 07: Defensive back DeShawn Shead #35 of the Seattle Seahawks breaks up a pass intended for Wide receiver Anquan Boldin #80 of the Detroit Lions in the NFC Wild Card game at CenturyLink Field on January 7, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)