This is a guest article by Curtis Allen…
With the draft behind us it’s a good time to talk about where the Seahawks’ cap situation stands. They made the majority of their most impactful roster moves already and the picture of what this roster will look like in 2023 is quickly coming into focus.
OTC has the Seahawks with only $4.6 million of cap room before they sign their draft picks and they’ll be $4.33 million over the cap after they sign them all. They currently don’t have enough room to sign their draft class, let alone make any further moves.
For what it is worth, at the very end of the Seahawks’ press conference on day three of the draft, John Schneider was asked if the team will have to make moves or tweak some contracts to fit the draft class in. He responded, “No. We’re OK right now.”
Very interesting. The official NFLPA cap report has the Seahawks with only $5.5 million of cap room currently so OTC is not wildly misreporting their cap number. They clearly do need to make room to pay their rookies.
Schneider’s answer may have been a dodge on his part – a waiving off the question to not tip their hand to what they have in store.
At this point it might be most logical to forget his comment and just say they need the full $4.33 million to sign their draft class.
They will also need to free up an additional $6 million or so to pay their practice squad. All in we are looking at $10.33 million of room they need to create to keep their heads above water.
Let’s call it $11 million.
Looking at the calendar, time-wise they will likely need to free up the $4.33m by mid-July or so (last year, Charles Cross signed his contract in early June and they completed their draft class contracts in late July).
The practice squad cap room does not need to be created until early September.
They still have time to make moves but the clock is ticking. The next few weeks could be very intriguing. What they decide to do will also give us clues about the direction this team is heading.
Where The Cap Space Will Come From
There is over $30 million of cap space between these players the team can work with. It is not a question of space so much as priorities.
To frame the discussion a bit, the age-old cap conundrum is at play here.
Would the Seahawks prefer to maximize their potential competitiveness in 2023? Or focus more on 2024?
Here are some examples of what an extreme approach to answering those questions would look like:
— If the Seahawks want to go all in on 2023, they could simply convert salary to bonus for Tyler Lockett and Quandre Diggs. That would create $11.85 million of cap space and keep the current roster intact. However, Diggs’ 2024 cap number would increase to $21.26m with a $10.26m dead cap and $11m cap gained if cut. Lockett’s 2024 and 2025 numbers increase from $23.95m to $26.79m each year to pay for his restructuring.
— A 2024-centric approach would be to Post-June 1st cut Jamal Adams and trade Noah Fant for 2024 draft stock. That opens $15.29m of room for this year, $9.39m of room in 2024 on Adams and gives the team more options and flexibility in the draft. However, that subtracts two potentially important pieces from the 2023 squad and they would probably want to use some of that cap space gained to bring in lesser options at their positions for depth.
— A neutral approach would be to extend both Fant and Nwosu and push the maximum cap available into the future. They keep their 2023 roster intact; in 2024 the team can move on from Will Dissly to afford Fant and Nwosu could be extended for two years not unlike the contract they signed him to last year, with a lighter cap in 2024 and a ballooned cap in 2025.
What Will the Seahawks Do?
History would indicate that the Seahawks will find a compromise between the two approaches. Their ‘win forever’ thinking often leads them to straddle that line between being competitive in the current year and building for the future.
The cleanest option would be to first make a decision on Noah Fant. There would be benefits to both 2023 and 2024 if they either trade or extend him and either option would clear enough to pay the rookie class and buy them a couple months to pursue the most advantageous opportunities to gain room.
Nwosu could be a tough needle to thread. It’s possible he has no interest in negotiating an extension. Or he will want a very healthy raise to buy him out of 2024 free agency. An excellent 2022, a high 2023 cap hit and 2024 free agency make for some strong negotiating leverage in his favor.
I do think they will want to at least see if he is willing to have the conversation and get a feel for the parameters of an extension.
Lockett and Diggs – I think they will keep those potential restructures in their back pocket. If they deal with Fant sooner rather than later, that will buy them some time to talk to Nwosu to see where he is. They can then plan accordingly. It could also be potentially very useful to have some cap room at the ready if they are having a fantastic 2023 and that one-more-piece player becomes available at the trade deadline or in street free agency.
If it comes down to picking one or the other to restructure, Lockett is the easy choice. He has two years remaining on his contract so you can water the cap hit down. He also has been incredibly durable and his skillset has translated extremely well as he has aged.
Jamal Adams. All the signals the team have been sending out indicate he is coming back for 2023 and that they still consider him a vital cog in the defense. It certainly could be smoke – a way to encourage him in his rehab and to be able to apply a salve of positivity if they do decide to approach him about renegotiating his contract to a lower cap number.
Trying to convince Adams to take a reduced contract will be like a game of poker. If they want to get some cap relief, they need to sit at the bargaining table with the mindset of being ready to cut Adams loose if he says he is not willing to be flexible on his contract.
Do the Seahawks honestly have a taste for eating $24 million in dead cap and walking away from a player they clearly have considered a linchpin of their defense? Despite his injury record and what a lot of fans think of him? Very hard to say.
I have long argued that they should make a move on Adams, promoting an aggressive strategy that opens up that $8.44 million of cap space, whether through renegotiation first or a release as a last resort.
It is possible the Seahawks view keeping Adams as the aggressive strategy. That he could in fact be that one-more-piece player they ‘acquire’ by activating him off Injured Reserve with the goal of adding electricity to the defense.
Whatever you think of Adams, I think we can all agree that renegotiating his salary down followed by him being put in a position to maximize his talents and then doing so (while avoiding further injury) would be an optimal scenario.
Unfortunately, the odds of having that materialize as a reality are not extremely high.