The floodgates are open.
By spending over $15m on two players — Gerald Everett and Gabe Jackson — the Seahawks used any remaining cap space.
Combined with Poona Ford’s extension and the addition of Ahkello Witherspoon, they’re now in the red. They’ll need to create cap space.
So why stop there?
Neither the Everett or Jackson move was calculated, value shopping in the market. These were two aggressive additions.
$6m on a tight end with a stat-line of 417 yards and one touchdown in 2019 — playing in the offense you want to lend from going forward — is a big investment.
Using one of only four remaining draft picks on an ageing guard with a contract worth $9.35m is no small thing either.
In isolation it’s easy to pick holes. Everett’s lack of production and Jackson’s age and declining performance (63.7 PFF grade in 2020 — the 40th best guard in the league) are at least worthy of consideration and discussion.
But if they are part of a more aggressive free agency approach this off-season, then it’s harder to criticise a team shooting its shot.
It basically comes down to this. If these two moves are Seattle’s only real powerplay in the veteran market — we’ll compare the $15m investment to other signings made by other teams.
It’ll be no different than looking at the +$10m spent on Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister a year ago, or the +$9m they spent on Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi and B.J. Finney, when Jack Conklin was available for $8m in year one of a multi-season contract.
Yet if the Seahawks just want to go for it — at least then you can’t accuse them of not giving themselves a chance.
That was part of the issue last year. They had so much cap space and sat idly by while the top players left the board. We could all see they hadn’t come close to fixing the pass rush or setting themselves up for the draft.
By the time training camp arrived they still hadn’t addressed key needs — leading to the overly-expensive Jamal Adams trade and starting the season with one of the worst defensive units in the NFL.
It can be different this year. They’re already over the cap, so why stop there?
It is perfectly plausible to create cap space without screwing yourself down the line. If there’s a trade that enables you to recoup draft stock and gain salary relief, do it.
And then get stuck into the remaining options on the market.
This is the time period in 2011 and 2013 when the Seahawks went to work — landing the likes of Zach Miller, Sidney Rice, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril.
This team has been desperate for impact signings like that for a long time, with the draft providing minimal results over the last few years.
Kenny Golladay appears destined to join either the Giants or the Browns. Yet Will Fuller, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Sammy Watkins are still available.
Wouldn’t it be something to see one of those three admirably filling the WR3 position in Seattle, creating a dynamic receiving trio Russell Wilson couldn’t help but admire?
In the case of Fuller and Smith-Schuster, you could even structure a smaller year-one cap hit. Or lean on Wilson to convince them to sign a prove-it deal. Come and play with one of the best in the game.
If you’re going to be so aggressive to make the Adams trade last August, why not consider something like this for your offense?
D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Fuller or Smith-Schuster and Gerald Everett would be a potent attack. The rest of the NFC would be put on notice.
Then go and land a running back with the potential to lead your ground game. Seal the deal with Leonard Fournette and bank on him finding inspiration to turn all of his LSU promise into a proper pro-career. You pulled it off with Marshawn Lynch, can lightning strike twice?
Pair him with Mike Davis and have a proper one-two punch in 2021.
Then, perhaps most importantly, go and sort out your pass rush once and for all. Bring Carlos Dunlap home and pair him with another option. If it’s Benson Mayowa, so be it. It’s at least worth considering a Jadeveon Clowney return or the addition of Ryan Kerrigan or Kerry Hyder.
Why not make the pass rush rich in depth and a strength of the team?
Let’s keep this going. Can you bring Richard Sherman home, making cornerback a strength too? And after all this — why wouldn’t K.J. Wright fancy another run back as you create an exciting roster.
How realistic is it? Well here’s the thing. We’ve just seen the LA Rams pay Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. They gave Jared Goff a huge contract, then paid him to go away. Ditto Todd Gurley. They paid their top two receivers and tight end. They then acquired Matthew Stafford’s contract.
They put themselves in cap hell — and still found a way to retain Leonard Floyd on a huge deal. How did they do it? By structuring his contract to only pay him $5.5m this year and backload the contract.
It’s not just the Rams. The Chiefs are paying Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones. They still splashed out for Joe Thuney and were in the hunt for Trent Williams.
In 2013 nobody thought it was possible to add Bennett and Avril after trading for (and paying) Percy Harvin. They pulled it off.
With minimal cap picks the Seahawks only really have free agency to put themselves in a far better position to compete in 2021. They have $58m of flexible non-guaranteed salary on the roster.
It’s time to be bold, creative and aggressive.
It’s time to load up the roster and become a contender.
That way — the $15m splurge yesterday looks less like an act of mild desperation and more like one small piece of a puzzle to get back to the top.
You can now support Seahawks Draft Blog via Patreon by clicking the tab below.