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2019 salary cap overview for Seahawks heading into free agency

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the 2019 NFL league year right around the corner, meaning that free agency is on the minds of fans of not just the Seattle Seahawks, but fans of every NFL team. Thus, the important question is how much cap space the Hawks have heading into free agency and the 2019 season.

To start looking at the space available for Seattle in free agency, we’ll turn to first, where the Hawks are listed as having $51,994,716 in cap space. However, that is not a final number as it currently only accounts for 48 players on the roster, nor does not take into consideration the need for cap space to cover injured reserve a practice squad, draft picks, restricted free agents or extending any of the players that they currently scheduled to become free agents in March.

The first order of business is to round the $51,994,716 up so that we’re working with round numbers. Since this is a projection into the future, there is no need to use precise numbers, as there will be some wiggle room and some of the numbers we will be using today are estimates. Thus, the starting point is $52M.

Next, it’s obviously necessary to fill out the roster, which for the offseason requires the team to add three more players. This is due to the offseason rule of 51, where only the 51 highest cap hits for the team must fit under the cap during the offseason. So, with three players at league minimum salaries, that will require at least $1.485M (three times $495k), which is close enough to $1.5M that I’m going to round again. That leaves the team with $50.5M in available space.

From there we can set aside the money that will be necessary to pay the team’s draft picks. The team currently only holds four selections in the 2019 draft, however, it’s highly likely that the team will add more draft picks by trading back with their first selection at 1.21. In any case, looking at the picks the team does currently hold, here is a look at the cap space that will be necessary in order to sign those picks.

Cap space needed for Seahawks 2019 draft picks

Pick 2019 Cap Hit Amount above Minimum
Pick 2019 Cap Hit Amount above Minimum
1.21 $2,292,297 $1,797,297
3.84 $725,895 $230,895
4.124 $697,224 $202,224
5.160 $570,839 $75,839
N/A $4,286,255 $2,306,255

Thus, allocating $2.3M to draft picks takes the team down to $48.2M in space for 2019.

From that point the team will need to pay ten practice squad players $8,000 per week for each of the seventeen weeks of the 2019 season. That is an additional $1.36M, and to keep our numbers clean I’ll use a placeholder of $3.64M for injured reserve. That may not seem like much for injured reserve, but as players added to the roster as injury replacements are typically signed for league minimum, that is more than enough.

That amount, $3.64M, is enough to sign 7.35 players at minimum salary for a full season. However, as injuries are distributed throughout the season, doubling the 7.35 gives 14.7, which is approximately how many roster spots can be filled over the course of the season with that amount set aside. Obviously, not all players sign for exactly league minimum, and obviously injuries are not perfectly evenly distributed. Thus, this is just a ballpark for a reserve that could end up not all being needed, or it could end up being completely used and more necessary.

In any case, that brings the available cap space down to $43.2M.

Now it becomes time to start adding on the space that will be created when the team releases Kam Chancellor, which I am assuming will happen at some point this offseason. Releasing Chancellor will create an additional $2.8M in cap space, which bumps the amount available up to $47M.

Then there are two matters to address regarding the defensive line. The first is to remove Malik McDowell, who OTC still counts as being on the roster with a $1.896M cap hit for 2019. However, as fans are all well aware, McDowell is no longer on the Seahawks roster, having been waived last summer on the eve of training camp. However, as we was waived by the Seahawks after June 1, 2018, the remaining two years of the unamortized signing bonus left on his contract should hit the Seahawks cap in 2019, giving him a cap hit of somewhere around $1.6M.

On top of the McDowell question, the Seahawks obviously have to address Frank Clark’s impending free agency. Assuming Clark has the franchise tag applied, that will give him a 2019 cap hit of $18.653M per OTC’s current projections. Thus, between the McDowell adjustment and assuming that Clark is indeed franchise tagged, the Seahawks will need approximately $18M for these items. Deducting that amount from the $46M figure that we’ve calculated for the Hawks to this point so far leaves Seattle with $28M.

That then leaves just the RFA tenders to account for. Depending on the levels at which George Fant and Quinton Jefferson are tendered, this amount could vary greatly. I expect both Fant and QJeff to be tendered at the original round level, which would cost just over $2M for each. Thus, after deducting the minimum salary from that $2M numbers (since we’ve already filled out the roster with minimum salary players), that will require an additional $3M to use the original round tender on these two players.

That brings the cap space for the Seahawks to $25M for 2019. That’s certainly more money than they have had in the recent seasons, but it is far an amount that will make them likely to sign multiple big name players. As is usually the case, it’s likely that the Hawks will target specific players based on specific skills and athletic traits at far more palatable contracts, and that they will not be major players in the initial frenzy of free agency.

For those fans who prefer these numbers to be spelled out explicitly in a table, here is the step by step breakdown.

Step by step 2019 Seahawks cap space computations

Item Amount Cap Space
Item Amount Cap Space
Starting Space N/A $51,994,716
Rounding for Simplicity N/A $52M
Filling out roster Need $1.5M $50.5M
Draft Picks Need $2.3M $48.2M
Practice Squad Need $1.36M $46.84M
Injured Reserve Need $3.64M $43.2M
Releasing Kam Add $2.8M $46M
Franchise Clark & McDowell adjustment $18M $28M
RFAs - Fant and Qjeff $3M $25M