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A look ahead to the 2022 salary cap picture for the Seahawks

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Back in September on the eve of the Week 3 game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings, Field Gulls took a quick look at the 2021 salary cap situation for the Hawks. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching on November 2, John Schneider and Pete Carroll could use some of the $10.7M of cap space available this season to add to the roster for the stretch run.

However, with the uncertainty surrounding the post-surgery recovery of quarterback Russell Wilson, exactly how much draft capital and cap space a team that could be 2-6 heading into their Week 9 bye will be looking to spend on the 2021 season is unknown. Regardless of what the team decides to do at the trade deadline, here’s an early look at where things stand from a salary cap perspective for 2022. However, at a minimum, between injury replacement costs and practice squad elevations, it is likely that the Hawks will use another $1.7M or so of cap space regardless of whether they make any moves at the trade deadline. Thus, using that as a starting point, it would mean Seattle would have roughly $9M of cap space it can roll over into next season.

Next, using OverTheCap.com as a starting point for where things stand for next year, the Seahawks are listed as having $53,401,163 of cap space available for the 2022 season. However, as regular readers know, that number fails to take into account a couple of things. The first is is rollover, meaning that once the $9M of rollover is added it brings the amount of available space up to $62,401,163.

However, a second, equally important factor to consider is that that $62.4M number does not account for a full roster, as it only accounts for having 32 players under contract. In order to fill out the roster for the offseason, adding 19 players to rookie minimum contracts at $705k requires the use of an additional $13.395 of cap space. That’s close enough to $13.4M that it’s simpler to just round, and doing that brings the space available to the team during the offseason down to $49.4M. (Author’s Note: If looking at OverTheCap.com, it will show the Seahawks as having 37 players under contract for 2022. However, of those 37, Duane Brown, Gerald Everett, Quandre Diggs, Ethan Pocic and Cedric Ogbuehi all have 2022 contracts that will void following the 2021 season. Thus, the true number of players under contract with Seattle for 2022 is currently 32.)

From there, the next step is to look at what it might cost the Seahawks to retain the restricted free agents on the roster. For Seattle, there are currently three players on the 53 man roster who are scheduled to be restricted free agents, which are:

  • DT Bryan Mone
  • C Kyle Fuller
  • CB Bless Austin

Obviously things could change between now and when it is time to extend RFA tenders, but Austin seems likely to be non-tendered, Fuller could be tendered at the original round level or non-tendered and Mone seems destined to receive a second round tender. These can be debated all day, but at the end of the day it seems wise to err on the high side and assume Fuller gets the original round tender, as even if he is then non-tendered, the extra assigned to him will account for some of the extra cost of keeping the exclusive rights free agents that are being completely skipped in this high level overview.

In any case, the tenders for 2022 are projected by OTC to be $3.927M for a second round tender and $2.396 for an original round tender. For the Hawks that likely means $4.9M in cap space allocated to RFAs, and leaves just under $45M of cap space available.

From there, the next step is to look at the players who have qualified for the Proven Performance Escalator. Without going to deep into the details, DK Metcalf has qualified for the Level One Proven Performance Escalator by making the Pro Bowl in 2020, while Ugo Amadi is on pace to qualify for the Level One Proven Performance Escalator based on playing time. Assuming Amadi stays healthy and earns the escalator, the impact of both of these players earning these escalators is as follows:

  • Metcalf: 2022 salary of $1,120,371 increases to $3,927,000 for a cap hit of $4,265,827 (increase of $2,806,629)
  • Amadi: 2022 salary of $965,000 increases to $3,927,000 for a cap hit of $4,088,299 (increase of $2,962,001)

Between the two of them, that’s an additional $5,768,930 of cap space that is likely to be required. Rounding up to $5.8M and deducting that amount from the $45M left after addressing the RFAs, it leaves about $39.2M.

Of that $39.2M, the team will need $2.5M for practice squad salaries (12 players times $11,500 per week times 18 weeks), and assuming an average of one elevation for each game during the season, roughly $500k will be needed to cover these elevations. Juicing that number up to $3.2M to account for either additional elevations or for having veterans on the practice squad, this leaves the Hawks with somewhere in the neighborhood of $36M in cap space. That $36M number is before setting aside $3M to $4M as an injured reserve pool to cover the salaries of players who are added when players on the 53 man roster are moved to injured reserve.

So, skinning everything down to the bones, Seattle should have somewhere $32M to $33M in effective cap space available to use during the offseason to address the holes on the roster, which are set to include the following players who are scheduled to hit free agency:

  • Starting LT Duane Brown
  • Starting RT Brandon Shell
  • Swing T Cedric Ogbuehi
  • Starting LCB Sidney Jones
  • Starting RCB D.J. Reed
  • Starting FS Quandre Diggs
  • Starting TE Gerald Everett
  • TE2 Will Dissly
  • Starting DE Rasheem Green
  • DT Al Woods
  • DT Robert Nkemdiche
  • RB Alex Collins
  • RB Rashaad Penny
  • Swing G/T Jamarco Jones
  • C Ethan Pocic
  • QB Geno Smith

And just to complicate the cap situation further, in addition to having already qualified for the proven performance escalator, wide receiver DK Metcalf will be extension eligible, so the team could need cap space to accommodate what could be a very costly contract for the yet to turn 24 pass catcher who in all likelihood still has his best years in front of him.