The Seattle Seahawks released center Justin Britt to save cap space, adding another talented player to the remaining free agent pool
The NFL’s compensatory pick formula may be one of the most complicated systems in sports. Two parts, however, are very simple: The compensatory pick formula does not apply to players that are cut, and there is a deadline to sign players for the formula to go into effect. In 2020, the deadline was Monday, April 27th at four P.M. eastern time. For former Seattle Seahawks center Justin Britt, both of those conditions are true.
Britt was cut by Seattle following the 2020 NFL draft. Starting for many years in Seattle, Britt would be an immediate upgrade for possibly half of the league. While the Seahawks are cap strapped, cutting Britt made little to no sense.
For a very long time in the NFL, interior pass rush was undervalued. Teams were spending big money on offensive tackles and edge rushers, essentially ignoring the interior. In the modern NFL, teams understand that a lot of damage can be done with a strong interior pass rush. Players like Aaron Donald began to wreck games and sign big contracts. Many quarterbacks have made it known that interior pressure bothers them more than edge pressure. Conversely, with interior pass rush becoming more valuable, so did interior pass protection.
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Smart front offices, such as the Indianapolis Colts and general manager Chris Ballard, have figured this out. In 2018, the Colts drafted Quenton Nelson, a guard, in the top ten of the draft. Earlier this off-season, Indianapolis traded a first round pick for DeForest Buckner. The Colts then extended Buckner on a monster four year, $84 Million contract. The former San Francisco 49er is a force in the middle who makes plays against the run and the pass.
With all this being said, players like Justin Britt are a rarity. Starting centers are just not available this late in the off-season. For example, the New York Jets tried to find a starting center before the season started, and had to call Ryan Kalil to come out of retirement.