Seahawks salary cap: Offense takes shape following primary free agency

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The Seahawks have made a series of decisions in the past week that allow us to project the offensive side of the ball with a fair amount of certainty, barring unforeseen injury. Let's go through them position group by position group.

QB

Russell Wilson is forced to play under his current contract due to the new CBA in 2014. Tarvaris Jackson signed a $1.25M deal for 1 year- all fully guaranteed. T-Jack is not going anywhere. The Seahawks tend to keep only two quarterbacks on the roster during the Pete and John era.

WR

Seattle made a half-hearted offer to Golden Tate, and now he is in Detroit. This move speaks to what Seattle thinks about Percy Harvin's hip, Doug Baldwin's play and Jermaine Kearse's emergence. This also speaks to the strength of the 2014 WR class. I have Seattle taking a WR in the bottom of Round 2 or top of Round 3 - which will cost the Seahawks only about $600k in cap in 2014. Whether the Seahawks carry 5 or 6 WR on the roster won't change the cap situation much. Extending Doug Baldwin will not change your 2014 cap situation much, so Seahawk fans should not worry too much about that in terms of 2014 impact.

TE

Having Zach Miller take a $3M paycut in 2014 is a very big deal. This opens up $3M without pushing your problems into the future (which is what happens when a "restructure"  is done with no actual pay cut). Again, this is not the type of restructure that many NFL teams do in order to create cap room, this is a true pay cut with no negative ramifications in the future (as far as we know).

Anthony Mccoy signed for $1.35M, with all of that guaranteed. McCoy is not going anywhere. Luke Willson is not going anywhere. The Seahawks have flexibility at the TE position going into the Draft - they can avoid it altogether, draft one high and possibly carry 4TE, or they can Draft one low and see if he makes the team.

OL

The Seahawks decided to move on from Breno Giacomini at RT. If you decide to play Michael Bowie at guard (perhaps to rotate with or replace James Carpenter), I believe your number one need going into this Draft is an offensive lineman, namely a tackle. In reality - a lot of it hinges on two things - the quality of player sitting there at #32 (either tackle or guard) and your own estimation of which position is Bowie's best spot.

An early 2nd Round tackle would cost about $1M toward your cap in 2014. I would not worry about who makes the team, whether the Seahawks draft another OL late in the Draft (likely) or if Caylin Hauptmann or Greg Van Roten make the team- that will sort itself out with competition. The bottom of the roster on the OL will not change the cap situation; all the players make essentially the same amount for cap purposes. If you decide that Carpenter has lost the competition to be a starter, or even a backup, you could cut him to save about $1.4M in cap. That can free up a little bit of wiggle room to perhaps sign a Jermichael Finley or Sidney Rice.

RB

I would go with these five players- Lynch, Michael, Turbin, Ware and Coleman. If an outstanding RB is there late in the Draft, maybe you bring him into compete. Either way- even if a young RB managed to displace one of the current RBs- it won't change the cap situation much.

All numbers via OverTheCap.com.

Screen_shot_2014-03-18_at_9

CONCLUSION

When you add up these 25 players, you have about $59M committed to the offense. I believe the final number for that side of the ball will be about $58-$60M for 2014, when it is all said and done.

I will next do a more detailed version of the defense - similar to this one for offense - once the Henry Melton and Jared Allen situation plays out (hopefully in the next few days), but I will lay out a few thoughts for now.

The Seahawks will have about $57-58M to spend on the defense when it is all said and done. Their top 25 players on defense cost about $50M today. They could create maybe about $2.5M of additional room if they cut or re-did Jeron Johnson and Heath Farwell.

Basically, the Seahawks have about $7-10M to play with on defense right now -- to chase extensions for the L.O.B. and pursue big names like Melton and Allen. First year cap hits are low, so if they got really creative, they could probably do both Allen and Melton, but it's probably more likely they get one and not both. In fact, there is a good chance they don't get either if there is a ton of competition (and it seems there is, especially for Melton).

Where is the rest of the $136M in cap going? You have to reserve for the following items:

$1M practice squad
$3M IR
$2M for wiggle room/rollover and possible incentives
$8.4M in Dead Money (this is the Dead Money Seattle has already taken for 2014 mostly from cutting Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Sidney Rice)
$5.0M for Specialists (Clint Gresham, Jon Ryan, plus Steven Hauschka's new deal)

Again, this leaves about $57-58M to spend on defense, and you have committed about $50M right now to the 25 most expensive defensive players.

Lastly, if Seattle goes offense early and defense late in the Draft, you don't need to reserve any additional money for those defensive draft players, as they just replace current players on the roster with only small differences.

It will be interesting to see what happens to Melton and Allen. Hopefully we find out soon.

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