As things stand the Seahawks have an estimated $18.75m in available cap space. A portion of that will be taken up by the unsigned draft picks and money saved for a practise squad and injured reserve. There’s still room, however, to do some business.
Furthermore, they’re currently projected to have the most available 2020 cap space in the NFL. That’s despite paying Russell Wilson his mega-deal. The +$70m they have for next year will reduce when they eventually get a deal done with Bobby Wagner and potentially Jarran Reed. They also have the room to tie down Germain Ifedi, George Fant, Ziggy Ansah and anyone else they might want to keep depending on 2019 performance.
This massive amount of cap space has come at a cost of course — the loss of Frank Clark and Doug Baldwin. Yet the Seahawks are in an enviable position with so much available spending money and 10 draft picks slated for 2020 (including five in the first two days).
So what’s next?
They don’t need to roll money into 2020 because they have more than enough already as things stand. They might as well keep building their 2019 roster.
So far they’ve added Ansah, Jamar Taylor and Al Woods in the third wave of free agency. Who else might they consider?
There are mixed reports on Ansah’s likely availability. Ian Rapoport says he should be fine for the start of the regular season. Adam Schefter suggested he could miss time. The Seahawks were in a unique position with their cap and a fierce need for a dynamic EDGE. They could afford to take a chance on Ansah’s health in a way others couldn’t. That’s why the deal got done. Securing themselves against Ansah being unavailable, however, seems like a smart move.
There are still pass rushers available on the market including Nick Perry and Shane Ray. Both players met with the Seahawks and it’s fair to wonder if either will get a shot on a modest contract to come in on a one-year prove-it deal. Even if Ansah is healthy for most of 2019 — the Seahawks have been at their best with a strong rotation on the D-line. Adding at least one more veteran to the competition seems viable.
Some have wondered whether the Seahawks would make a big trade for Gerald McCoy. I think it’s unlikely. His current contract means you’d be taking on cap hits of $13m in 2019 then $12.5m and $12.9m the following two years. Although you could cut him at any time, that’s a significant salary unless you get him for a cheap trade.
Tampa Bay currently has $182,036 in available cap space — the lowest amount in the league. At the moment they can’t pay their rookie class and save money for injured reserve and a practise squad. They have to make a move and parting with McCoy is inevitable given there’s no dead money tied to his contract.
The Bucs are in an unfortunate position though. They’ve just lost Jason Pierre-Paul potentially for the season. That’s likely leading to a delay in proceedings. Parting with McCoy is a formality though because the only other player on the roster they can make a significant saving on is Lavonte David ($9.75m salary, no dead money). Creating $13m in cap space frees up the potential to sign a Shane Ray or Nick Perry to cover the loss of JPP.
If/when McCoy is cut, Seattle could show some interest. Although you have to wonder if adding a 31-year-old defensive tackle who so far has earned $148,545,286 in his career fits the current blueprint.
McCoy plays to his own tune. He famously arrived at training camp wearing a kimono when the Bucs took part in ‘Hard Knocks’.
That doesn’t mean he necessarily wouldn’t fit in Seattle. The Seahawks have gone to great lengths though to start building through the draft — adding younger, hungry players who are buying into a competitive culture. It’s debatable whether McCoy would fit into that.
He is still producing though. His production on the stat sheet has been consistent for years. Here are his sack and TFL numbers:
2012: 5 – 9
2013: 9.5 – 15
2014: 8.5 – 13
2015: 8.5 – 8
2016: 7 – 5
2017: 6 – 13
2018: 6 – 6
If you could get that kind of production, it’d be a major positive. The Seahawks would have to be prepared to make him a focal point though. I’m not sure McCoy would want to be a rotational defensive tackle and if he becomes a free agent, you’re not going to get him on the cheap anyway. Having signed Al Woods and with Poona Ford showing well as a rookie — are you going to sideline both to feature McCoy and Reed as a starting duo? Maybe — but it seems more likely at this stage they have their defensive tackle rotation set on the roster with a sufficient number of inside/out compliments.
Any further additions could be mere competition — such as Corey Liuget on a basic deal trying to earn a job. We’ll see what happens if McCoy becomes available.
Another suggested trade target is tight end Kyle Rudolph. The Vikings are in a similar position to the Buccs. They have $871,856 available in cap space (second lowest in the league) and need to make a saving. Moving Rudolph saves them $7.6m so a trade or simply cutting him is inevitable.
They’re also stuck in the same bind. Every team in the league knows they need to save money. So every team will lowball them in trade talks or simply wait them out. Rudolph will be cut if a trade isn’t forthcoming and teams probably believe they can then re-sign him for cheaper than the $7.5m he’s due in 2019.
Rudolph is a talented player capable of making key plays in the passing game. I haven’t studied his blocking enough to comment but you don’t often have an eight-year career at tight end in the NFL if you can’t block (with some, ahem, notable exceptions).
Rudolph might be a player of interest. He might be someone they look at if he becomes a free agent. They’re unlikely to spend a pick to acquire him though given it’d be a one-year rental and they’d be forced to commit $7.5m to him in 2019. If they can negotiate a cheaper contract without surrendering a 2020 pick — it becomes more viable.
Whatever they decide to do it certainly feels like the Seahawks aren’t done. They have the money and the motivation to keep improving. Even with the loss of Baldwin and Clark — this feels like a team trending upwards. Any additions will have to fit into the new mentality and refreshed culture. Yet they have the freedom to make more moves. Working out what they’ll actually do, however, is the hard part.
I think a bold, high-profile trade is unlikely. Yet this team is shaping into contention mode in the NFC West and if there’s a player out there that can further tip the balance in their favour — why would you rule anything out? They have the picks and the available money to be pro-active.
What seems more likely, however, is the continued collection of cheaper veterans on prove-it deals — filling out the middle-class and improving the competition on the roster.
I intend to do a Google Hangout Q&A this week plus we’ll finish up the thoughts on the draft class.
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