Thursday here at Field Gulls a review of the salary cap situation for the Seattle Seahawks saw that with the players currently under contract for 2021 and filling out the roster with minimum salary rookies, the team is looking at having an extremely limited amount of cap space to play with in free agency and for extensions.
Of course, while fixed for any given season, the cap is flexible and a function of a team’s willingness to dip into its future cap space allocations, just as the New Orleans Saints have done for several seasons, and as the Dallas Cowboys did for quite some time. The risk to that is that when something unexpected comes along and causes the cap to stagnate or drop, teams that have borrowed against what they believe will be an ever rising cap can be crushed under a mountain of dead money and have limited ability to operate. This is the situation the Saints find themselves in, looking at potentially being more than $90M over the 2021 salary cap, though it’s entirely possible for the team to get under the cap for 2021 through a Drew Brees retirement, trades and pushing 2021 cap hits for higher paid players into futures league years.
The Saints are the extreme example, but with the cap expected to drop to $175M next season, there are a lot of teams that will likely be looking at releasing mid level veterans in order to free up cap space. In addition to the Saints, the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and a handful of other teams are looking at being over the salary cap for 2021 once the roster is filled out to 53 players according to OverTheCap.com.
So, the combination of a decreased cap and a cap crunch league wide should lead to a suppressed free agency market across the league this offseason. The important question will, of course, be whether that depressed market results in contracts that are team friendly, or if teams operate as if the cap will increase back to prior levels in future league years and structure contracts in such as way as to simply push the cap hits into the future, rather than hitting the cap in 2021.
In any case, the Seahawks have the flexibility to create cap space through a variety of moves in the offseason, so the limited cap space is not a significant concern at this point. That flexibility will likely prove to be key, as the team has several players they will likely look to extend, as there are currently nine spots on offense and defense where the starter is not signed past this season.
Those starters not signed past this season (including restricted free agents):
- LG Mike Iupati/Jordan Simmons (RFA)
- C Ethan Pocic
- TE Greg Olsen
- WR David Moore
- RB Chris Carson
- DT Poona Ford (RFA)
- DE Benson Mayowa
- LB K.J. Wright
- CB Shaquill Griffin
- CB Quinton Dunbar
For those keeping track at home, that’s
- 40% of the starters on the offensive line
- 60% of the starters at offensive skill positions
- 40% of the starting defensive line and
- 100% of the starting outside cornerbacks
Again, there are a variety of moves the team can make to create cap space in the future, and exactly which of those moves the team decides to make will likely be determined by how certain players perform down the stretch this season. So, there’s no need to panic at the number of starters currently unsigned going forward, as at this point it’s simply a situation which is worth noting and keeping an eye on as the season progresses.