With signings starting to slow down I thought I’d take another look at how Seattle sits with regards to their cap position and what it really means.
As it stands, including for every single signing the team have made (as well as the recently departed Trevone Boykin, the Seahawks have a total of $9,214,517 in available space after making the following signings this off-season (not including the RFA’s and ERFA’s)–
Bradley McDougald – 2018 cap hit of $3,333,333
Barkevious Mingo – 2018 cap hit of $2,400,000
Shamar Steven – 2018 cap hit of $2,100,000
Tom Johnson – 2018 cap hit of $2,100,000
Ed Dickson – 2018 cap hit of $1,866,666
Jaron Brown – 2018 cap hit of $1,775,000
Marcus Smith II – 2018 cap hit of $1,400,000
D.J. Fluker – 2018 cap hit of $1,368,750
Mike Davis – 2018 cap hit of $1,350,000
Maurice Alexander – 2018 cap hit of $720,000
Akeem King – 2018 cap hit of $555,000
The front office have clearly been busy, it wasn’t till I wrote all those down that you realise how different the roster is going to look in 2018, I’d estimate there are 5 new starters there with valued depth behind other players. And that’s before even considering the draft.
That doesn’t sound too bad on the surface, however when you consider they have to account for the draft, it quickly disappears. Please ignore when media analysts tell you Seattle has to account $6,000,000 for the cap, though. This is absolute nonsense. Although thats the cost of the contracts, you have to allow for the players they will be replacing on the roster's salary coming off, so in reality, without doing the maths, I'd say it will be around $2,000,000, maybe $3,000,000 (closer to the bottom end of that I'd say).
They also need to add on the bottom two contracts. In the offseason the “51 rule” is in play. This means only the top 51 player contracts count towards the teams cap in the off-season, so once the regular season starts, the bottom two contracts also count, expect this to be just under $1,000,000. As do the practice squad (approximately $1,000,000).
The team also needs to hold back a couple million for mid-season signings for when the inevitable happens and players go on injured reserve. When a player goes on IR, their cap hit still counts however they don’t take up a roster spot, hence the need to hold back some money in order to sign a replacement (or bring someone up from the practice squad at a higher salary, depending on the depth).
When you add that all up, the team are left with, potentially, very little in available space. This isn’t workable (assuming they want to resign one more cornerback, Byron Maxwell for example, but more on him later). I can say with almost 100% confidence the team will make at least one more move, but what will that be?
Cliff Avril seems the obvious one, releasing him (or him choosing to retire) would free up $7,125,000 in cap space which makes things much easier to work around. An Earl trade would also free up $8,500,000 however with recent reports coming out on Wednesday that Earl is expected to remain with the team in 2018, that is looking less and less likely.
Another possibility is extending an existing player. Duane Brown seems an obvious one. They could realistically gain between $1-2M by extending him, and with both Duane’s desire to retire a Seahawk and John Schneider’s openness about extending him, this seems very possible. Although don’t expect that to happen imminently, sometime later in the summer seems the most likely. You don’t want to extend him too early then he gets himself injured in camp and done for the season, that would hurt enough as things stand, let alone adding a fresh contract to his name.
It’s entirely possible that a couple of those options happen, too. I’d say both Cliff being off the team and Brown getting extended are both highly likely (90%+), that would likely leave Seattle with between $8,000,000 and $10,000,000 going into the season. About the right amount to extend Frank Clark as it goes, but I’ll do a separate piece on that after the draft.
Whatever way you look at it, Seattle will make more roster moves, that’s a given. Seattle’s current lowest earner that counts towards the cap is Chris Carson with a cap hit of $571,285 so any other players brought in for camp will either need to be below that contract (not easy given the NFL’s policy on minimum salaries) or Seattle will need more cap space. That’s why I’m so certain that one of Earl or Avril won’t be on the roster. Things are just too tight to manoeuvre the rest of the offseason without a move.
That brings me quite well onto my next point, Byron Maxwell.
It has long been expected that Seattle and Byron would come to an agreement to have him signed in 2018 (and potentially beyond that), so why hasn’t it happened yet?
I would bet Seattle has made him a low offer, somewhere around $2,000,000 a year, when you consider his base salary with the Dolphins was $8,500,000 that is quite a drop. It’s clear the Maxwell is a system guy, he was pretty woeful with both the Eagles and the Dolphins however Seattle seems to use him correctly so get an, overall, better product on the field than other teams seem to get out of him. That’s the mean reason he’s expected to resign here, because it just ‘works’. He’s probably worth the vet minimum to other teams so, although it’s considerably lower than he’s earned over the last couple of years, Seattle may well value him at $2,000,000 and there’s not much Maxwell can do about that if no other team is offering more.
I haven’t heard about any other visits so I would hazard a guess his market is stone cold and Seattle knows that. I wouldn’t expect him to walk away from a Seattle offer regardless of how low it is when the other option is remaining an unrestricted free agent for the whole season. $2,000,000 for a seasons work is better than nothing, right?
Byron is currently in the Dominican Republic for Richard Sherman’s wedding so I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he wanted to wait till after his trip to sign the contract in the hope that another team comes forward offering more money, while it seems this hasn’t happened I’d expect him to put pen to paper shortly after he returns to the States, whenever that may be.
As always, I will keep you all posted on any developments. Go Hawks!