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Readying for next move, Seahawks free cap space with Doug Baldwin’s contract

As it shops for reinforcements elsewhere before Saturday’s deadline, front office converts most of Pro Bowl receiver’s $7 million base salary into prorated bonuses, opening more than $5 million

NFL: Seattle Seahawks-Minicamp Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday and Thursday multiple reports suggested the Seattle Seahawks were trying to trade certain midpriced veterans, presumably to open up more salary cap space to bring on a more expensive contract either in the same trade or in another move. Friday morning they tried another tack, negotiating a shift in the money owed Doug Baldwin for the 2017 until later in his deal—freeing up more than $5 million in cap room in the short term.

Baldwin signed a four year, $46 million extension before the 2016 season and was due to make about $7.75 million this year. Now most of that money will be pushed into prorated bonuses across the length of Baldwin’s contract.

ESPN’s Field Yates initially reported the contract maneuver, and as 247 Sports Seahawks reporter Derek Lewis put it, “for now, it’s the move before the move.” Although Seattle has needs at offensive tackle, backup quarterback and possibly even cornerback depth following a season-ending injury to DeAndre Elliott in Thursday’s preseason game, the team has previously been linked with trying to acquire discontented New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Richardson makes a little more than $8.1 million a year, so with only $3-4 million in true cap space (allowing several million for injured reserve, practice squad and later roster flexibility) any deal for Richardson or a similar-range player would have required opening new space. The Baldwin restructuring helps solve some of that problem, and may signal that earlier trade talks involving Jermaine Kearse or Jeremy Lane were unsuccessful—although another additional trade may still be coming.

Either way, the Seahawks seem primed to add another decent sized contract before Saturday’s deadline to cut the 90-man roster down to 53 players. Stay tuned to Field Gulls for more updates.