The big news for the NFL Friday evening was that the league and the union both voted to approved the plan the two sidea had hammered out regarding player health and safety, as well as addressing the economic issues the league will face as it prepares to play games without fans in attendance. Field Gulls own Alistair Corp covered the roster size question for the 2020 season, as well as the special practice squad size and eligibility rules that will be in place for the 2020 season, now it's time to take a very brief look at how the revenue question will be addressed, and look at what it means for the Seattle Seahawks at a very high level.
The loss of any potential revenue will be spread out over the next four years, through 2024.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 24, 2020
Players will have seven days from the time the agreement officially is signed, probably by Monday, to make a decision about whether to opt out for this season.
The proposal being discussed by the NFL and NFLPA would spread the impact of any revenue shortfall in 2020 over four years, with a 2021 salary cap of at least $175 million, sources tell me and @MikeGarafolo. No change to the 2020 cap despite owners' proposals.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 24, 2020
The salary cap floor of $175M is big, as that allows teams to operate through the 2020 season while being able to plan with some degree of certainty regarding what the cap situation will look like next season.
The biggest thing this means for many teams is that while there will be organizations that create cap space through the use of converting salary to signing bonus, knowing ahead of time that the cap is likely to decrease by 12.5% means that teams may want to free up space by releasing expensive veterans rather than pushing the can further down the road. Teams, like the New Orleans Saints, are likely to continue kicking the can as far down the road as they can as long as Drew Brees continues to play, while teams which are looking to the future and rebuilding are probably more likely to bite the bullet and release more expensive veterans.
For the Seahawks, the situation won't be rosy and pretty, but the team also shouldn't find itself between a rock and a hard place. The Hawks are currently a hair under $150M in salary commitments for 2021 before signing their draft picks, which will push them just past that level. Add in a practice squad, 2021 draft picks and an IR reserve, and they're likely in the $155M-$160M range.
Using the low end of that range, that gives the team roughly $20M in available space for 2021 with a full roster. However, in spite of the roster being full, it is a roster full of youth and inexperience. That full 53 man roster for 2021 includes the entire 2020 UDFA class, along with this year's draft class. That means roughly a third of that roster has played zero snaps in the NFL, so the team will be looking to add experience and talent on a budget where possible. Obviously the same issue will be faced by all 32 teams, so it could be a bargain shopper's paradise if there are massive cap casualties across the league. In addition, with teams likely to begin planning for 2021 this season, it won't be a surprise at all if there is a rash of mid-level, exoensive veterans who find themselves looking for a new team at the end of training camp. While the limited opportunity for practice reps will make it more difficult for young, inexperienced players to catch on, the economic situation teams face could give some younger fringe players a leg up on their far more expensive competition.
Coming back to the Seahawks, looking at their 2021 cap commitments the position group which could see the largest overhaul could once again be the offensive line. Three of the eight largest cap hits on the roster for 2021 are Duane Brown ($13M), Brandon Shell ($5.5M) and B.J. Finney ($4.5M). That's, of course, not to say that these three are in imminent danger. If they perform at a Pro Bowl level in 2020, there's almost no shot the team releases them for cap reasons. If, however, they struggle and the team believes it has a potential replacement on the roster or who has been drafted or signed, then the Hawks could look to free up some of the $18M in cap space that could be created if the team moved on from all three.
Brown, due to the combination of his age and salary, is likely the one of the three in the most danger. Finney and Shell, meanwhile, by virtue of their lower cap hits, would be more likely to be in danger of being released if they perform poorly during 2020. In any case, it's a situation that bears watching across the roster, not just on the offensive line.
In the coming days and weeks, I'll dig more into the outlook for 2021, as well as looking at steps the team might make during 2020 in order to address this situation as best as possible this year in order to be best able to capitalize during the offseason.