With the arrival of the end of the second week of free agency, the Seattle Seahawks have addressed multiple concerns on their roster through free agency and trades over the past eleven days. Jadeveon Clowney remains unsigned, but the 2020 future for many of the team’s biggest expected free agents have already been determined as players have signed elsewhere.
George Fant signed with the New York Jets, Germain Ifedi is off to play for the Chicago Bears, Quinton Jefferson might be stuck living in upstate New York and playing for the Buffalo Bills, but he finally cashed in after having been out of football and working at Best Buy not too long ago.
In any case, while fans are still waiting to learn the specifics of many of the contracts signed by the Hawks this offseason, the 2020 cap hits for many of the early free agent signings have started to leak out. So far it is known that:
- Brandon Shell: $3.475M
- B.J. Finney: $3.5M
- Cedric Ogbuehi: $2.2375M
- Chance Warmack: $750k
Of note, while Warmack will carry a cap hit of $750k, he will actually carry a base salary of $910k, with the opportunity to make an additional $137.5k through bonuses. His base salary is the minimum for a player with six years of experience, while the $137.5k in bonuses is the maximum allowable under the veteran minimum benefit rule.
At the same time, the numbers on the deals agreed to by several other players have yet to leak out. Specifically, fans are still waiting for the numbers agreed to by
- Bruce Irvin,
- Phillip Dorsett,
- Luke Willson
Per OverTheCap.com, without taking into consideration Irvin, Dorsett and Willson, the Hawks have $11.33M in cap space available for 2020. Before anyone jumps into the comments and asks why OTC’s numbers are lower than the cap space for the other salary cap site, it’s for two reasons. The first is that the other site has yet to incorporate the contract from Shell into the numbers. Secondly, the other site is consistently wrong. Specifically, the other site has regularly credited the Seahawks with an incorrect amount of cap space rollover over the years. During the 2019 season the other site’s numbers were incorrect due to the application of a $6M adjustment credit that didn’t exist anywhere, while for 2020 the rollover number listed from 2019 is $1,438,096. The fact that the rollover numbers are incorrect is amusing, simply because the NFLPA provides the official rollover number for every team in the league in a public document.
While the official number from the NFLPA is seen here:
So, in any case, the Hawks have a little over $11M in actual cap space before accounting for Irvin, Dorsett and Willson. In April the team will need about $2M to cover the cost of its draft picks, and then when the season arrives in September the team will need a little over $2M to pay practice squad players and roughly a $4M pool for injury replacements. All that together means that the team, as of today, has about $3M in effective cap space for 2020 before accounting for Irvin and Dorsett.
In short, at first glance, it would appear there’s not a lot of money left to continue to go shopping for free agents. That said, there will be players who are released for cap purposes at some point, and it simply becomes a matter of exactly who it will be and how much it will free up. This is important to keep in mind because the $3M of effective cap space noted above is the number to use if the team were entering the season, however, there’s still at least five months until then. During the offseason the team need not worry about the $6M to cover injured reserve and the practice squad because those players don’t cost anything extra during the offseason.
What that means is that the team can wait to create cap space until the season arrives in September. Specifically, it seems highly likely that certain positions will see the competition play out in such as way that cap space will be created by nothing other than roster management. For example, looking at center, here are the players who would appear to be in competition for the starting center spot for 2020. In addition, the cap hits and cap space created by releasing or trading a player at roster cuts in September are noted as well.
- Justin Britt: $11.417M cap hit/$8.5M cap savings
- B.J. Finney: $3.5M cap hit/-$1M cap savings
- Joey Hunt: $2.133M cap hit/$2.133M cap savings
- Ethan Pocic: $1.403M cap hit/$1.066M cap savings.
So, even if the Seahawks do nothing more than waiving Hunt and Pocic, the Seahawks would create $3M in cap space by simply releasing the third and fourth centers on the depth chart.
In short, cap space is tight enough that any expensive signing will require cap maneuvering by the team. However, there is plenty of flexibility within the roster itself, and with creative structuring, even monster contracts can carry small first year cap hits. Thus, even as the Jadeveon Clowney saga plays out in the coming days and weeks, the amount of cap space the Seahawks have is not a reason to fret when it comes to wondering if they will be able to sign a specific player.