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Have the Seahawks truly reached ‘the end of an era’?

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As the losses mount for a team accustomed to winning, the calls from the fans for wholesale change are increasing. It’s both ugly and predictable.

But it isn’t wrong.

Something appears to be seriously broken with our beloved team and it’s fair to question whether the team’s leaders are worth retaining.

Personally, I am not yet aligned with the idea that “It’s time to clean house” and/or that “Everything everyone must go.” I am, however, deeply curious about what the financial impact of a team-wide overhaul would be.

Note: This is far from an all-inclusive list.

The Front Office

Pete Carroll

Google believes that Seattle’s head coach is making $11M this season, trailing only Bill Belichick and (reportedly) Urban Meyer. Pete is under contract through 2025 so it’s likely that he has about $44M remaining on his contract. Whether PC would get all of that if he were fired (or chose to retire) is unknown, but it’s reasonable to assume that he’d at least get a healthy chunk of it.

John Schneider

The other half of the PC/JS moniker is signed through the 2027 NFL Draft which is sort of interesting since most NFL contracts expire at the end of a season, not after a draft. More to the point though, since NFL teams don’t typically report front office salaries, it’s unclear how much John Schneider earns on an annual basis.

Here’s what we do know:

Whether Schneider earns more than Caserio is, of course, unknown. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if JS is making at least $5M per year. If so, that means he has north of $25M remaining on his contract.

Seattle’s $10M+ Club

Russell Wilson

Seattle’s franchise quarterback is signed through the 2023 season but seems perfectly capable of forcing his way out of town within the next few months - especially as the losses continue to pile up. Unfortunately, trading Russell Wilson would stick the Seahawks with $26M in dead money next season.

Now, as bad as that sounds, his current 2022 cap hit is slated to be $37M which means Seattle could “save” $11M by pulling this particular trigger. Plus another $27M in 2023.

It is worth nothing that Russell Wilson has a $5M roster bonus that is due on the 5th day of the 2022 league year (and the same thing again the following year). Since that bonus is the responsibility of whichever team he’s on when it comes due, it could play a part in the timing of a trade (were that to happen).

Jamal Adams

The recipient of a 4-year, $70M contract extension a mere 3 months ago, the NFL’s highest-paid safety is unlikely to be traded. However, if he were, the Seahawks would absorb $28.44M in dead money. Worse, their 2022 “savings” would be negative-$19.33M.

What is often forgotten in this scenario is that Adams’ cap hit in 2020 was $3,590,292 and this year, it’s an even $5M. Adding those together (and ignoring the draft compensation) means that Seattle has gotten 2 seasons of service from him for a combined cap hit of $8,590,292. That’s an average of $4,295,146 per season.

That amount increases to $37,030,292 worth of cap hits for 2 seasons of service if Seattle trades him in the next 9 months; an average of just over $18.5M per season.

Tyler Lockett

The only player in Seahawks history to record 100 catches in a season currently has $3.12M in dead money on his contract. However, $3M of that is in the form of guaranteed salary for the 2022 season which means it would transfer to another team if Seattle were to trade him. The prorated signing bonus totals $28.2M which is the hit the Seahawks would take if they sent him elsewhere.

Seattle could save north of $40M over the life of Lockett’s contract by trading him though. His base salary is $3M next season (fully guaranteed). It rises to $9.7M in 2022 before leveling off at $15.3M in both 2023 and 2024. In addition to the base salaries (totaling $43.3M), Lockett will also receive $1.6M roster bonuses in 2023 and 2024 AND he has an annual base salary escalator of $1.05M if he has 55 receptions or 800 receiving yards or 8 touchdowns.

Other Notables

Bobby Wagner

Seattle’s future-Hall-of-Fame linebacker has a mere $3.75M in dead money on his contract and a base salary of $16.35M in 2022 (plus another $250k in per-game roster bonuses). As hard as it is to type these words, I don’t think the Seahawks will find any takers if they try to trade him, not with that salary and his age. Thus, the question becomes, “Would Seattle release their HOF LB to save $12.6M?”

Chris Carson

Having had his 2021 season end after a mere 4 games comprised of 54 carries for 232 yards, the writing might be on the wall for Seattle’s lead back. With $3M in dead money vs. a $4.5M base salary (and another $425,000 in per-game roster bonuses) for the 2022 season, few would fault the Seahawks for cutting him loose. Trade-wise, he likely has zero value.

Carlos Dunlap

Seattle’s resident shoe-tosser is an interesting case. Technically, he’s under contract through 2025, but 2023, 2024, and 2025 are void years which means he’s only expected to play for Seattle this year and next year. His cap hit this year is a mere $2.9M, but he has $5.6M in dead money remaining on his contract which means that the Seahawks are on the hook for at least $8.5M total regardless of what happens after the season ends.

Ignoring the dead money (aka the prorated signing bonus), his 2022 contract looks like this:

  • $4,075,000 base salary
  • $175,000 roster bonus (due on 5th day of 2022 league year)
  • $850,000 in per-game roster bonuses

Add that up and you get a max of $5.1M that Dunlap can earn if Seattle retains him, or that Seattle could “save” if they trade him (or release him).

DK Metcalf

With only $338,827 in dead money on his contract after this season, some might be wondering why DK Metcalf is on this list. Answer: 2022 is the final season on his rookie contract. Seattle, like most teams, has a tendency to “reward” young stars by signing them to a new deal after their third season.

Given Metcalf’s production through his first 2-1/2 seasons, the numbers on his next contract are sure to be impressive - regardless of when he signs it. While it is complete speculation at this point, something north of Tyler Lockett’s recent extension (4/$69M) seems likely.

If Seattle were cleaning house, would a new contract for DK be atop their To Do list? And would DK Metcalf be amenable to signing said contract if/when it were offered - especially after being ejected from a game because he is “tired of losing”?

Bottom Line

Between John, Pete, and the handful of players listed in this article, the Seahawks are looking at a decision that could cost the team somewhere in the neighborhood of $150M to $170M this offseason.

Personally, I think it’s more likely that the team chalks up the 2021 season as an aberration rather than using it as the launching point for wholesale changes. Particularly given the cost (and the uncertainty) of “cleaning house.”

I guess we’ll see what happens.