Reports emerged last week that the Seattle Seahawks were in talks with two potential pass rushers who share a past with head coach Pete Carroll, Clay Matthews and Everson Griffen, both of whom played for Carroll at USC. While fans would certainly seem to prefer the team add Griffen over Matthews, at the end of the day the two sides must come together on an agreement that makes sense for all involved and which keeps the team in compliance with the salary cap. For the Hawks, even in light of the recent release of Branden Jackson and Joey Hunt, the team is not quite as flush with cap space as many fans would hope.
Specifically, with the rookie class finally under contract and neither Hunt nor Jackson hitting the cap at their restricted free agent tender amount, the Seahawks have less than $15M in total available cap space for the 2020 season.
Cap space post opt-outs (12-23)— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 7, 2020
12. NYG: $21,441,129
13. HOU: $21,137,877
14. CIN: $18,551,659
15. CHI: $17,220,760
16. JAX: $16,955,684
17. SEA: $14,497,295
18. LAC: $13,675,353
19. GB: $13,280,409
20. CAR: $13,177,619
21. KC: $13,003,035
22. SF: $12,529,886
23. MIN: $12,391,078
So, that’s roughly $14.5M in cap space that Seattle has, but it bears keeping in mind that not all of that space is available. Specifically, the team needs to keep some of that space allocated for other expenses such as the practice squad and to cover injury replacement players.
With practice squads expanding to 16 spots in 2020, assuming a team carries a full practice squad each week, it will cost the team $8,400 per player per week. With 16 players at $8400 over 17 weeks, that is a $2.285M in minimum practice squad expenses. Now, with the ability of teams to carry players with any amount of experience who are paid an elevated practice squad salary this season, that $2.285M could be several hundred larger, however, the $2.285M is sufficient for use as a minimum.
From there, it will also likely be necessary for the team to set aside more cap space for injured reserve replacements this season than in years past, as players who test positive or are placed on COVID-IR for quarantine purposes get paid the full salary while continuing to count against the cap. Thus, while the team typically needs at a minimum a couple million dollars of cap space, the more conservative one wishes to be, the larger a number one should use for this assumption. In the past $3M is the number that has been used in the majority of Field Gulls articles when setting aside this cost, and while the cost is likely to be greater this year, until it’s known how much larger it will be, $3M is close enough to the ballpark.
Thus, removing $2.285M and $3M from the $14.497M that the Hawks have available leaves $9.212M in cap space to the team.
However, that $9.212M does not take into account the possibility of Article 45 Injury Protection payments to either Justin Britt or Ed Dickson. Most readers will recall that back in the spring both Dickson and Britt were released with an injury designation, meaning that if neither of those players signs with another team in order to suit up for the 2020 season, Seattle could be on the hook for a $1.2M injury protection payment to each of them. With training camp already underway and neither of the two having signed, its seems like a safe bet at this time that the team will indeed need to make those payments. Therefore, setting aside an additional $2.4M for these two, it leaves Seattle with $6.812M in true cap space.
Before anyone starts flipping out that the Hawks have just $6.812M in true cap space, that is not to say that is the only money available to the team. There are still some players who could be released in order to free up cap space, and they could always convert Russell Wilson’s base salary to signing bonus to free up plenty of space. In short, if the team needs to create cap space to add Griffen or Matthews, or another name such as Jadeveon Clowney or Marcell Dareus, then they have the ability to create as the space necessary to make whatever move they decide is in the best interest of the team.