Seattle, Hand unable to compromise on contract

Updated: March 26, 2004, 5:19 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The Seattle Seahawks cut veteran defensive tackle Norman Hand on Friday, after the two sides were unable to resolve contractual differences, ESPN.com has learned.

Hand and the Seahawks had discussed the possibility of Hand's reducing his 2004 base salary, scheduled at $3 million, but the player balked at the cut suggested by Seahawks executives.

Hand was entering the final season of the two-year deal that he had renegotiated last spring after Seattle acquired him in a trade with New Orleans during the second day of the NFL draft.

Seattle will recoup $3 million on its 2004 salary cap.

Hand, 31, is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he appeared in just six games and started five. But his release puts him into an unrestricted free agent market that lacks defensive tackles in general and, more specifically, proven run-stuffers of his ilk.

At this point in free agency, with the pool severely diluted but teams still seeking interior defensive linemen before the draft, Hand figures to generate interest. In fact, teams had already been inquiring about his potential availability, and those clubs probably will move pretty quickly to make official contact with him.

The former University of Mississippi standout is still a strong presence in the middle of the line and the defensive tackle position is traditionally a difficult one to fill.

In nine NFL seasons, Hand has 285 tackles, 21 sacks, two interceptions, two fumbles forced and one recovery. He has started in 77 of 104 appearances and, until being limited to just six games in 2003, had averaged 14.1 starts in a five-year span.

Hand began his career in Miami in 1995 and played two seasons with the Dolphins before being claimed on waivers by San Diego in 1997. He moved to New Orleans in 2000.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.