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Could Seahawks add Sheldon Richardson if they parted with Jermaine Kearse?

NFL: New York Jets-Training Camp Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

With reports emerging on Wednesday that the Seattle Seahawks are shopping Jermaine Kearse while also attempting to acquire a defensive tackle, several Field Gulls commenters have asked whether moving on from Kearse would free up enough cap space to let the team fit Sheldon Richardson in. Luckily is a phenomenal resource, and so all the data we need to delve into this question can be found there.

Kearse's cap number for 2017 is $4.03M. Cutting him with a post-June 1 designation eliminates his $2.2M base salary and $1.83M in prorated signing bonus, but keeps the other half of the $1.83M in signing bonus. Which still leaves the team spending between $2.295M and $2.475M for the season on that roster spot, depending on who the team keeps there of the available candidates of Kasen Williams, David Moore, Tanner McEvoy and Amara Darboh. That cost represents a savings of between $1.5M and $1.7M (rounding to make math simple) over keeping Kearse on the roster. Now, for for reference, Richardson has $8.1M in fully guaranteed salary in 2017, so that is the amount of cap space the team would need available to fit Richardson in.

Accoording to Over the Cap, the team currently has about $8.4M in cap space. So, taking the $8.4M and add in the savings from Kearse and there’s roughly $10M in available cap space. From there the team has some guys who are likely to be let go and replaced with lower salary younger guys when cuts are made on Saturday, saving a couple hundred thousand here or there, such as Pierre Desir, Michael Wilhoite, and a handful of others. I’m not saying those guys are goners, just saying it's likely they'll cut enough of those guys and replace them with lower cap hit guys to save a little money and that can likely create another million or two in cap space. We'll be generous and aggressive and call it $2M. That puts the team at $12M in cap space.

And then it becomes time to start working the other way.

First, that currently available cap space of $8.4M only covers the top 51 players on the roster, and the active roster is 53 men, meaning there needs to be at least $930k additional allocated to cover those two roster spots. We'll call it $1M to keep the math simple, so we're back down to $11M in available cap space.

Next, the Hawks have DeShawn Shead on the PUP and he is making his full P5 salary for at least the first third of the season before he’s even eligible to come off the PUP, so deducting another $500k ballpark to cover him puts the number back down at $10.5M.

From there the team will need to save cap space for the practice squad. The minimum salary for the practice squad is $7,200 per week per player. With ten guys on the practice squad, that's $72,000 per week, which over 17 weeks (practice squad players get paid per week, not per game) is $1.224M minimum. We'll use $1.2M just to again keep the math simple, and when we take that off the $10.5M and we're at $9.3M.

Next, the team needs to save money for IR for guys like George Fant. NFL-wide last season, 487 players ended the year on IR, or just over 15 players per team. Setting aside money to cover the salaries of the street free agent replacements, those 15 roster spots X $600k (ballpark street free agent cost) = $9M. That $9M can then be divided in half, as the injuries will be somewhat evenly distributed over the course of the season, and a guy added for Week 17 uses a lot less cap space than a guy added prior to Week 2. Deducting the $4.5M for IR, that leaves the team down to $4.8M in available cap space, which, obviously, is not nearly enough to fit in Richardson's $8.1M.

Now, what I could see happening is this: the trading deadline for the league is after the Week 8 games at the end of October, and by that time Richardson will have already been paid 8/17ths of his 2017 salary by the Jets (roughly $3.8M), leaving only $4.3M of his salary left to be paid going forward. Should the team decide to extend Jimmy Graham in the middle of the season and convert some of his salary to signing bonus, they could free up additional cap space beyond the $4.8M the above math worked out to. That could put the team in the $6-7M range for true available cap space, and they could fit Richardson in a little easier at that time.

However, for now, in order to fit Richardson under the cap, the names they would have to get rid of in order to clear the deck sufficiently would be the likes of Cliff Avril, K.J. Wright, Earl Thomas, or Graham, none of which strike me as names the team would likely move on from at this point.

The idea of adding Sheldon Richardson is a nice one, but it may not be possible without either cutting another player of significance (thereby risking making Seattle worse, not better) or waiting a little while.