Offseason Notes - Earl Thomas, Chris Carson, D.J. Fluker etc
With free agency hitting the later phases and news of deals starting to slow down I thought I’d do an article about general topics before the draft becomes the focal point in the coming weeks.
D.J. Fluker Contract
The first thing I’d like to take a look at is the D.J. Fluker contract. This one really surprised me. Myself and many others were fully expecting something around the $3M, maybe even $4M range and would have been perfectly happy with that given the likelihood he will be a starter at RG. When I read the news that the deal is actually for an $800,000 base and a $300,000 signing bonus I was amazed. The total 2018 cap hit comes in at $1,368,750. This is due to him also having up to $400,000 in per game roster bonuses and as he was injured for a large portion of last year, the NFL classes a lot of that as ‘Not Likely to be Earned’ therefore doesn’t count against the cap for 2018. Although if he plays in more games in 2018 than he did in 2017, the difference would be taken off the cap in 2019, no big deal.
John seems to have changed his philosophy somewhat when it comes to free agency, they’ve been pretty shrewd with their available spends and, on the surface, seem to have spent it very wisely. Adding a legitimate starter on the offensive line for less than $1.5M? How many NFL teams have starters on their offensive line that aren’t on rookie contracts playing for that sort of cash? Very few.
I suspect Fluker really wanted to stay with Solari (and Solari really wanted him) which is telling on both parts.
The certainty (or uncertainty) of Chris Carson
I personally don’t buy into the Chris Carson hype and here’s why –
He never showed anything in college, hence his draft position in the 7th round. In the 4 games that he played in for the Seahawks last season, he totally 208 yards and a 4.2 yard average over those 4 which is fine. But is it RB1 numbers? I don’t think so at all. His best game on an ‘average yards per carry’ basis was week 1 against the Packers where he averaged 6.5 yards but only had 6 carries. He was coming in with fresh legs and didn’t prove any sustained workload.
The one game where he did sustain a good workload as well as producing decent yards is week 2 vs the 49ers where he carried the ball 20 times for 93 yards (4.7 average). If he could keep that up, I’d totally buy in. But were talking about 1 game (against a team that finished 22nd in run defense). That isn’t selling it to me at all.
I’m not saying Chris Carson isn’t going to amount to anything for Seattle, he very possibly could. But when looking at actual evidence, I struggle to be ‘all in’ on him. Remember when Thomas Rawls looked fantastic in his rookie year? Now look where he is. Currently on the street still searching for a team. He will very likely remain unsigned until June where he wouldn’t count towards another teams comp pick formulas.
Updated look at the salary cap
With all the comings and goings it can be tricky to keep a grip of where Seattle stands with the cap. I have them, at present, with $12,392,851 in available space not including the Mike Davis, Marcus Smith or Shamar Steven contract. With those 3 on board, and accounting for the players at the bottom of the roster no longer counting towards the cap (top 51 count in the off season), I’d expect them to have a little over $11,000,000 in real money.
But of course, that doesn’t account for their draft picks or keeping any money back for in-season signings. The team doesn’t need to make a decision on Cliff Avril in the immediate future, but when they do the cap will go up by $7,125,000 providing he is cut or retires, so they’re actually looking pretty healthy on the cap front and will certainly have the means to sign players that don’t make cut down day in late August/Early September.
We haven’t really had any major developments on this front, Earl did put a statement out saying he wants to stay in Seattle but that could be more damage control than anything else. He also said at the weekend that he will be ‘rich and happy’ wherever he plays, so the two kind of conflict a little bit.
Ultimately I still believe Earl will be moved before the draft but will Seattle get a first round pick for him? My bet is no. I think they would ultimately settle on a 2nd plus either a 3rd or 4th (even in 2019). The team clearly has no interest in signing him to a third contract so the deal effectively has to account for the loss in 2018 plus the loss of the potential comp pick if he signed elsewhere in 2019. It’s worth noting that a lot of big names are due to hit free agency in 2019 so Earl would most likely be a 4th round comp pick as opposed to a third, too. Plus, Seattle has a whole ton of cap space In 2019 so could very likely be more active than usual next year, potentially deleting any comp pick for Earl. Not an ideal situation at all.
With anyone whose anyone in Orlando for the NFL Owners Meeting this week, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear him be moved towards the end of the week but I’ve been saying that every week for the past month now and nothing has materialized so who knows!
Salary cap split
You may or may not have read an article I did back in Early March about how I believe Seattle will split the salary cap far more evenly in 2018 than they did last year. In case you missed it, you can read it here.
Well, splitting the cap evenly between the offense and the defense is exactly what they have done (takes a bow).
At present, Seattle is spending the following –
Offense - $73,500,339
Defense - $75,339,854
They seem to have shifted from the heavy spending on the defense and made it more even across the board. When it’s all said and done and the 53 man roster is set I’d still expect the defense to be slightly higher, but only by a couple of million which is nothing compared to the huge difference between the two units there was in 2017.