It had been reported that both Rice and Bryant were set to be released in the last week, but the Seahawks didn't officially make the moves until Friday.
"We want to thank both Red and Sidney for their effort, commitment and contribution to the Seattle Seahawks over the last few years," general manager John Schneider said in a statement. "These are extremely tough decisions, but we wanted to give them a head start on free agency. We wish them well in the future."
The moves were needed to free up money for next season. The release of Bryant ($5.5 million) and Rice ($7.3 million) saved Seattle $12.8 million in cap space for next season. With the Seahawks looking to re-sign DE Michael Bennett and WR Golden Tate, and looking to sign S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman to contract extensions this offseason, Seattle had to find funds to utilize somewhere.
The league set the salary cap for next season at $133 million per team. Seattle also was able to rollover approximately $2.8 million in leftover space from last season giving them a team salary cap of close to $136 million.
With the moves made Friday, Seattle should have close to $18 million in cap space for next season. The team could still likely release more veterans such as DE Chris Clemons or TE Zach Miller to free up more space in the coming weeks.