For the Seattle Seahawks, the 2019 season ended on a cold night at Lambeau Field in a divisional round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, however, with Super Bowl LIV now in the background, fans are beginning to look forward to 2020. The first set of questions many fans ask at the conclusion of the season are about which players on the roster are set to potentially leave as free agents, and which impact players on other teams will become available.
With that being the case, the question immediately then turns to how much cap space teams have for the coming season, as that is certain to be a factor in how active a team is in the free agent market. In checking OverTheCap.com, the Seahawks are currently listed as having $50.755M in cap space for 2019. However, that number fails to account for a handful of items.
For starters, the $50.755M only takes the 48 players the Seahawks currently have under contract into consideration. As such, $1.5M is necessary to account for cap hits of the final three players that will round out the 51 players who count against the cap during the offseason. Next, the number on OTC does not set aside any reserve for either the practice squad or injured reserve. Roughly $4M is likely necessary to cover these costs, so that number must be set aside as well.
Lastly, the team will need to have money allocated to cover the cost of the 2020 cap hits above the minimum salary slots currently occupying the bottom slots on the roster. With the Hawks projected to have eight picks in the draft, the cost of those eight picks based on where the team is currently projected to pick, the team will need roughly $3.5M above the minimum salary slots currently at the bottom of the roster to cover these picks. This number is subject to change, as trading down would reduce this number, while trading up could potentially see this number increase. In any case, as we’re simply looking for an approximation, $3.5M is close enough for the purposes of this analysis.
Thus, deducting these amounts from the $50.755M number from OTC we end up at somewhere in the neighborhood of $42M in cap space for 2020. That is before tendering any of the team’s restricted free agents in Joey Hunt, Jacob Hollister, Branden Jackson and David Moore and before extending any of the team’s pending free agents. Also, there are obviously certain veteran players on larger contracts who ended the 2019 season on injured reserve, specifically Ed Dickson and Justin Britt, who could become cap casualties and leave the team with a greater amount of cap space.
Now, the team can go out and get basically whatever free agents it wants based on how creative it wants to get in structuring contracts. For example, while Frank Clark signed a five year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that averages $20.8M over the life of the contract, he carried just a $6.8M cap hit during the 2020 season. This is not dissimilar from how the Seahawks signed Ed Dickson to a three-year, $10.4M cap hit that averaged $3.46M per year, but which carried just a $1.87M cap hit in 2018, the first year of the deal.
In any case, the Hawks have the room to be aggressive in the market, both with their own free agents like Jadeveon Clowney and Germain Ifedi, as well as in pursuit of free agents from other teams who could potentially hit the market soon.
I know someone in the comments is going to point out that there is another salary cap site that is projecting the Hawks to have a greater amount of 2020 cap space than the $50.755M in space that OTC lists. However, that other site credits the Hawks with more than $10M in cap rollover from 2019, largely tracing back to a multi-million dollar adjustment that was put on the cap in 2018 which cannot be found on any other site and which appears to have no basis. Neither OTC, nor the NFLPA public salary cap report credit the Seahawks with this adjustment, making the number used on that site seeming to be inflated without an understandable reason.