The Seattle Seahawks' season is not over. It may not end for several more weeks - more specifically, just under a month with a win in New York, hopefully - but if you know me, you know I'm always thinking long-term. We know the front office thinks this way as well, so with the marriage of Pete Carroll's Win Forever and John Schneider's Forever Young in mind, I've put together a little reference for the 2014 Seahawks' roster and salary cap. This will be three parts.
Before rushing into the main course - the juicy decisions of what players to keep, what players to cut, and what players to acquire in 2014 - I think it is important to first set the table from a salary cap perspective.
$128M TO WORK WITH
The NFL has released details regarding the 2014 League-wide cap, which is reportedly $126.3M. Seattle has a small rollover it can use from 2013. With this in mind, until further notice, I am estimating $128M as the Seahawks' cap figure when projecting the 2014 Seahawks roster.
Before getting into the 25 offensive players and 25 defensive players, we have to delve into important areas that I used to overlook in cap analysis. Every million dollars counts for Seattle like never before, with a young roster teeming with players deserving to be well compensated.
From Overthecap.com, Seattle has seven players on Injured Reserve, totaling $12,197,678 in cap space. Most of that is Sidney Rice at $9.7M in cap, with the other players more cost-affordable types like Anthony McCoy, Chandler Fenner, Jeron Johnson, Jesse Williams, Kenneth Boatright, and Spencer Ware.
Jesse Williams, Boatright, Fenner all are paid about 70% of what their normal salary would be if they had made the 53 man roster healthy. Young players get a reduced "split" when they head to IR. Anthony McCoy was paid his entire base salary of $630k and his cap hit of $656,214 reflected it - perhaps because he has been in the league since 2010. Jeron Johnson and Spencer Ware, who hit IR after starting the season on the 53-man roster, were paid closer to their full base salary (seems like Ware also had some sort of split, but he did play some games on the 53-man roster).
In reality, Seattle was not going to replace its top-paid player with another $9.7M dollar player, they replaced Sidney Rice with someone like Ricardo Lockette. Rice was already in the equation for anyone doing cap analysis, so the only additional cap hit would be to his replacement. Ricardo Lockette had a $480k base salary, when pro-rated for a partial season his hit became $254k.
Seattle also carried Korey Toomer on NFI (Non Football Injury) at $102,000, Tharold Simon on PUP at $346,607 and Greg Scruggs on PUP at $325,377.
When you add it all together and take out Rice, you have an IR/PUP/NFI estimate for 2014 of around $3.5M. Think of it as about 10 players hitting your cap at $350k each (below the league minimum because many of these are "redshirting" rookies getting a reduced split off their base salary). We don't know which players will be hurt in 2014, but it's pretty safe to assume that 10 players will hit IR/PUP or NFI in 2014.
DEAD MONEY ALREADY TAKEN
The best part of this article is when I suggest players that Seattle should cut as cap casualties. Since these cuts have yet to happen, I will first address cuts that have already taken place in the past. Seattle has $894,849 in dead money in 2014 from players it cut in the second half of 2013 (NFL allows you to split the dead money between two years in these late season cuts).
The three biggest chunks where Chris Harper, Jaye Howard and John Moffitt. Other names include names like John Lotulelei and Winston Guy, Ty Powell etc...
For the sake if simplicity, let's estimate this Dead Money Already Taken category at $1M.
Bob Condotta wrote a cool article on the Seahawks Practice Squad this week; Guys like Jermaine Kearse began on the practice squad, and it is something Pete and John take seriously. Guys like DeShawn Shead were paid at an elevated rate - but the normal player gets $6,000 per week on practice squad. Simple math (8 players x 17 weeks x $6,000) = $816,000 for practice squad.
Again, for simplicity, let's call the Practice Squad Estimate for 2014 at $1M.
Steven Hauschka is playing this year at a cap hit (vet min benefit) of $620k. He is getting $780k, but the NFL lets you do that because it allows role players to stay in the NFL when competing with cheaper, younger players in this flat cap era. The Seahawks are paying Tony McDaniel $890k in cash but he only counts $605k against the 2013 cap.
I don't know if the Seahawks will keep Hauschka, because I don't see them paying him $2.35M in cap (even though he probably is worth it) like the 49ers did in 2013 to Phil Dawson. Maybe they would pay him $1.25M? Jon Ryan is set to make $1.4M in cap in 2014 and Clint Gresham $887,500.
I am using a $3.5M estimate for specialists in 2014 - not knowing who the Kicker will be.
When you factor in Dead Money Already Taken ($1M), IR/PUP ($3.5M), Practice Squad ($1M), Specialists ($3.5M) and $1M for what is probably wise to call "cushion," you need to reduce your $128M salary cap down $10M to $118M.
Seattle basically has about $118M to spend on its Offense and Defense.
This front office typically keeps 25 players on Offense and 25 players on Defense. Some readers may wonder how I get to this, but my hope is, after reading the next segments of this analysis, that it will be reasonable that they split in 2014 will be about $65M on Offense and $53M on Defense. I could also see perhaps $64M/$54M split as well.
So, now, and during the offseason, as a Seahawks fan, if you want to speculate how to build the team in the Draft and Free Agency, I suggest using a $118M figure for the offense and defense - with a $65M/$53M split as a "starting point" before letting your mind wander into various scenarios.
We'll talk about the 2014 Offense next...