Life as a Seahawks fan has been kind to us lately. We have been to the last 2 super bowls. We sustained minimal lose of starting talent (C, G, CB) and have already replaced some of those loses (CB). We traded for one of the best players in the game (Graham) in a position of need and still have 11 draft picks in hand to do whatever JS wants in the coming draft. We'll even have a minimum of 9-10 draft picks for the next two years.
If you look at our cap numbers for 2016 at OTC or Rotoworld you'll see that as of today we have approximately 40 million in cap space under the estimated 2016 cap limit.
The above should fill our heads with sweet dynasty dreams as we concentrate on drafting the players we need to replace Carp, Unger and Walters(PR/KR) or upgrade our receiving core and add a pass rusher or two.
That’s how it looks of the surface.
Under that surface however, there is a very scary 20 million dollar time bomb ticking with less then 12 months on the counter.
It starts with that 40M cap space for 2016. That number does not include the following estimated costs for starters and key contributors currently on our roster :
QB – RW at 17M.
RG – Sweezy at 4.5M.
LT – Okung at 7.5M.
LBs – Irvin and Wags at 15M combined.
DTs – Rubin, McDaniel and Mebane at 12M combined.
WR – Kearse at 2M.
P – Ryan at 1.5M.
There is also a list of sub 1M players that are not under contract for 2016. It includes possible contributors or valuable depth like Turbin, Matthews, Lockett, Morgan, Dobbs, Blackmon, Tukuafo, McCoy, Shead, and others.
We do not even mention others that enter their last year under rookie contract next year who may look for their payday and that signing bonus that comes with it.
A conservative estimate to keep the current roster intact is 20M beyond our current cap space for 2016.
That’s a significant number that needs to be addressed. A lot of the above names, or other highly paid and valuable players, will sadly not be a part of the 2016 roster. It's a fact of life in the NFL and just like we had to let players leave 2 years ago (Tate, Red, Clem, BB, WTIII and others) and this year (Maxi, Unger, Miller, Schofield and others), we'll need to let players go in 2016.
The cap space was friendlier in 2014 and 2015. It allowed us to resign players and bring new blood to replace some of the loses. KW, Graham, Cary Williams, Rubin and others joined the roster to make up for lost talent or improve the roster. This is not the case when we look ahead to 2016. If we want to add new players to replace some of the 20M worth of lost talent, we'll need to cut the roster further to create space to pay for those new faces.
The textbook answer for it is obvious – Draft the players to replace the ones you need to let go. That solution works from the economic side of the business. But, can you really replace 20M worth of talent with shell shocked rookies picked during the 2016 draft?
No, you can not. If it was just one or two players we could hope to bring in top round rookies and survive thier first year growing pains (See Britt). We'll need more then just one or 2 players to replace 20M worth of talent. It would also be of great benefit if those players will step in after having a full year on an NFL roster to prepare them for NFL level of play.
That brings us to the 2015 draft. It would be very prudent to start stocking the shelves in preparation for 2016. The probable future positions of need are as follows:
DT – Mebane, Rubin, McDaniel are free agents after the 2015 season. Mebane's contract may be restructed/extended before the 2015 but I can not see the others being paid 6M for their services next year. I see it as a must to add a big body run stuffer as depth for 2015 and a potential starter at 2016.
CB – We have been very capable at finding and grooming corners. And yet, we ended up paying Williams millions of dollars to plug a hole immediately. We should not be in that position again. If we can get a late rounder (5-7th round) that will be trained all year to step in and replace Williams in 2016 we should do it.
LB – We have a great trio at that position. However, we can not pay over 20M a year for those guys. One of them will have to go. Even if KPL will be ready to step in for the missing part we'll need the quality backup to be ready in case of injuries.
OT – Replacing a LT is always a risky business. That position traditionally suffers from harsh rookie abuse even for the best of them. With our late picks we will not even get one of top 4-5 in the class. TC will need a full year to get that talent ready to be the next man up in 2016. We should bring that guy this year, no later then the 4th round.
RB – With Lynch as a constant question mark, Turbin on his contract year and CMike entering his "get it done or get lost" year, we may need to address that issue as well.
When you add the above to the immediate positions of need (G, C, WR) you get a full shopping list. Some of the 2016 needs will have to be handled with the 2016 draft. I would however expect us to dedicate at least 3 out of our 11 picks this year to prepare an answer for the 20 million question we'll face in a year.
Separation is in the preparation.