Danielle Hunter could be in play for Seattle
The Seahawks have suggested in the media that they intend to add to their pass rush, perhaps in a more aggressive way than they have over the last few years.
One player not currently available, who could be, is Minnesota’s Danielle Hunter.
Per the terms of his contract, Hunter is due an $18m roster bonus on March 20th.
With the Vikings currently $20m over the cap, they need to make a significant saving somewhere.
Hunter’s cap hit in 2022 is an enormous $26.1m. It’s highly unlikely they will commit to paying him the bonus or retaining the cap hit. Cutting him over the next month is plausible because they would save $14.6m.
Either way, something’s definitely going to happen. A cut, a trade, a restructure or an extension.
He could be appealing to Seattle. He’s 28 this year, so not too old. He had a PFF grade of 80.8 in 2021 and had six sacks in seven games.
The problem is, those seven games are the only times he’s featured in the last two years. Durability is a concern — especially if you end up needing to pay him a fortune.
He is a name to monitor, though. Reports in Minnesota have suggested a cap-lowering extension is an option and Ed Donatell has already talked up Hunter’s fit in his defensive scheme.
They need to save money somehow, though. Hunter might be a cap casualty and a potential target for Seattle.
Other potential cap casualties or trade targets
A year ago Seattle traded for Gabe Jackson to avoid him being cut and entering the open market. This year, there are some potential options again.
The Bills are currently $9m over the cap. They can save $7.5m by cutting center Mitch Morse, or $8.5m by trading him. He’s approaching 30 — not too old — but only had a 63.4 PFF grade in 2021. Even so, he’s the kind of experienced center Seattle has been missing since Max Unger.
His base salary is just $6.9m so it would be a cost effective trade for Seattle. You could even sign him to an extension (he has one year left on his deal) to lower that cap hit further.
Eddie Goldman has familiarity with Sean Desai in Chicago. Once a highly rated defensive tackle, his form has dipped significantly. In 2021 he received a horrendous 39.8 PFF grade. Is it the beginning of the end or just a blip? Desai will know.
Goldman has only just turned 28. His trade value will be paltry but his base salaries of $8.8m and $8.3m for the next two years are tolerable if you still believe he’s capable of his best form.
The Packers would clearly like to keep Za’Darius Smith but they’re $42m over the cap and scrambling around to manipulate contracts for Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones to have any shot of retaining Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams.
Smith has a $27m cap hit and would save $15m if he’s cut or dealt. With only one-year left on his contract, he could also be extended.
His base salary is just $14.5m so a trade wouldn’t be costly. It’d be a one-year rental. He missed most of last season through injury but remains productive and he’s not too old at 29.
Frank Clark seems like an inevitable cut for the Chiefs. They have just $8m to play with and now have to contend with the increasing cost of Patrick Mahomes over the coming years.
Clark’s cap hit of $26m is unsustainable and cutting him saves $13.4m. He’s practically un-tradable due to his base salary rates of $19m and $20m for the next two seasons. Nobody is going to commit to that.
His PFF grade was just 54.3 in 2021 and he’s approaching 29-years-old. If he is cut — the Seahawks could do a lot worse than bring him back to Seattle, given he’s unlikely to break the bank.
Richard Sherman, NFL insider
According to Sherman on his podcast, he expects Stephon Gilmore to sign with the Seahawks or 49ers in free agency. I’m not sure if this was a sourced report or an opinion but it’s interesting.
He turns 32 in September so he’s not a long-term fix. However, after being dealt to Carolina, he still earned a PFF grade of 77.1.
In his best season (2019) he was hailed for the way he played in man coverage — something Clint Hurtt has already talked about playing more of this season.
Whether it’s to replace D.J. Reed or slot in across from him — Gilmore would be an ideal fit. It’s also possible, given his age, he might be available at a reasonable cost for a year or two.
If the Seahawks are serious about being aggressive — adding a top pass rusher and Gilmore at cornerback would be a real statement.
Time to s**t or get off the pot with Russell Wilson
The last few days have been interesting.
As we approach the combine, it feels like things are starting to ramp up. Aaron Rodgers’ decision is forthcoming. That is the first domino to fall of the NFL off-season.
What happens after that is highly unpredictable. With so many teams primed to try and mimic the Rams by acquiring a veteran quarterback — and with a bad QB draft class — this could be quite a dramatic couple of weeks.
However, the situation with Russell Wilson is positively tame at the moment.
Think back a year ago. Brandon Marshall was talking about Wilson being done in Seattle. Colin Cowherd was voicing similar things. There was the Adam Schefter tweet about the four trade destinations. The story was alive and dominating the news cycle.
It’s a huge contrast to this year.
Cowherd predicted this week Wilson will play for Seattle in 2021. Ian Rapoport told Pat McAfee today the straight forward message that without a replacement, he can’t see Seattle trading him.
Let’s go back to Cowherd. If he’s predicting Wilson stays — you can pretty much take that to the bank. He’s clearly connected to the Wilson camp. If that’s what he’s hearing, that’s what is happening in all honesty.
I suspect it’s what we’ve been saying for weeks. Carroll is 70, he’s under pressure to win now due to his age and job security after last season. There’s no obvious replacement out there. If left up to John Schneider, he might embrace a rebuild. That clearly isn’t Carroll’s mindset.
Whether the Seahawks should be letting a 70-year-old dictate their long-term vision is a question worth asking. Yet ultimately, it appears that’s the case.
Thus — there’s no point Wilson kicking up a fuss. He’ll simply make a lot of negative headlines, spoil his reputation in Seattle and for what? To return in training camp with his tail between his legs?
A lot of people take comfort in Wilson’s couched language in interviews which are a mix of ‘hoping’ to be in Seattle, expressing some interest in staying but also keeping his options open. The truth is if he was 100% bought-in and happy he’d say he is definitely staying and that’s that. He has a no-trade clause. He dictates whether he stays or goes. There’s no ‘hope’ needed.
It seems obvious to me Wilson is open to a change of scenery. You’d have to be naive to think otherwise after the last 12 months.
But if he can’t make it happen without forcing the hand of the Seahawks and making an aggressive trade request — then he has no choice but to stay.
Wilson is very image conscious. I get the sense if he leaves, he wants it to be a Matt Stafford-style departure where everyone parts as friends and Seattle continues to root from him from afar. Those situations are incredibly rare.
I’ll maintain that the only thing that I think changes this situation now is a bad free agency for Seattle. If they swing and miss in the first week of the market opening, he might decide it’s time to act. Public opinion could be sympathetic to Wilson if the Seahawks fudge this. He won’t want to waste another season.
And frankly — if they miss out on top pass rushers, suddenly a deal that presents (for example) a ton of picks and Chase Young might seem more attractive.
So basically — have a positive free agency. That’s the key. We should all hope Seattle is active for once. The consequences could be severe if not.
I’ll finish with this though. A year ago I said the Seahawks should trade him or extend him. One way or another, this drama could hang over the franchise like a dark cloud.
They tried to brush it off, embarrassingly, as a ‘media creation’ and simply insulted everyone’s intelligence. The situation has lingered and it isn’t healthy. It could easily impact Seattle’s pulling power in free agency if the situation isn’t properly resolved.
The one way to do that is to sign Wilson to a new deal in the next two weeks. That ends this, once and for all. It can also give you a chance to lower his cap hit this year and create extra money to stack the roster.
Putting your fingers in your ears and blaming the media isn’t the answer.
Trade him or extend him.
Commit to each other and make it happen. Or part ways.
From the quarterback — either be prepared to negotiate and commit, or just get on with it and request the trade.
Resolve the saga, once and for all.
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