Welcome to the series finale!
- Part One: Seattle is one of the most successful franchises in the league and has become so despite playing in the toughest division.
- Part Two: Frank is insane; he thinks we should trade Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf.
- Part Three: What would a Russell Wilson trade look like?
- Part Four: Trade DK? Really?
- Part Five: Cap space and contracts - who could Seattle sign to extensions and how much money could it free up?
- Part Six: Free agency - our guys and other guys.
- Part Seven: College prospects and mock drafts - aka the ones that Seattle can actually get as things currently stand (i.e. if the Seahawks don’t trade RW3 and DK).
- Part Eight: Game of Thrones meets FieldGulls - in an epic tome, FTR finally pulls back the curtain and reveals “the plan.”
And now we’re at the end of this thing.
With one BIG question.
Would the FTR plan make Seattle better; would it put the Seahawks in a better position to win multiple Lombardi trophies over the next 5 years?
(aka before Pete retires)
My answer is (obviously), “Yes.” And here’s why . . .
Seattle’s depth chart, minus free agents
Don’t want to spend too much time here, but . . .
- Phil Haynes would currently be considered the starter at Left Guard and Brad Lundblade is the starter at Center;
- There’s isn’t a Fullback - which might not matter for most teams but does for a Pete Carroll team;
- There are only 2 Defensive Tackles on the team and neither of them is a Nose Tackle;
- Ben Burr-Kirven would be one of the starting Outside Linebackers; and
- Tre Flowers would be the starting Left Cornerback
Seattle’s current cap space + draft picks
John Gilbert posted a great article about the Seahawks current cap space a few days back. His conclusion? OverTheCap.com says the Hawks have about $5M in cap space, but it’s actually only a hair over $7,000; as in $7,354, to be exact.
$7,354 minus $3,104,044 equals . . . NEGATIVE . . . a lot.
It’s okay though because Seattle doesn’t need to allocate money for their draft picks until after they trade Russell Wilson so that’s not a big issue.
Salary cap “tricks” only get you so far . . . and they come at a cost
Whether John and Pete do “their” plan or they read this series and buy into mine, some of the moves are relative.
In Part Five, I looked at players that could be extended (or traded / released) and how much Seattle could theoretically free up in 2021 cap space.
The answer was about $40M but not all of that would be right away (aka before free agency starts on March 17th).
And, honestly, that estimate was probably a bit low.
Regardless of anything else though, Seattle’s front office can do everything in that particular installment without riling any feathers (or even working very hard) because it is entirely based on players that are currently under contract.
So if the Seahawks want/need to free up money (they do) and if they want/need to do so without releasing anyone (less certain) then there ARE ways to do it.
What Part Five ignored though is the “popular” option that Seattle could / should / will restructure Russell Wilson’s contract.
Aside from the obviousness of it not fitting “my narrative,” here’s why Part Five didn’t even consider restructuring Wilson’s contract:
In this scenario, the Seahawks convert $15M of Wilson’s 2021 base pay to a signing bonus. He gets that money up front; the team gets to spread the $15M cap hit equally over the 3 years remaining on his contract.
In 2021, his cap hit decreases from $32M to $22M. Yay, team!
But it increases by $5M in 2022 (from $37M to $42M) and again in 2023 (from $40M to $45M).
ALSO, the dead money in 2021 increases from $39M to $54M - which is sort of misleading because Wilson’s 2021 base salary became fully guaranteed on February 12th so the dead money is actually $58M either way.
On the bright side, Wilson’s contract only accounts for 12.2% of the 2021 cap in this scenario so we can definitely win the Super Bowl since his percentage is below “the magic number”.
Yay, team! (again)
But his cap hit increases to 18.5% in 2022 and 18.7% in 2023.
And that is not good.
WORTH NOTING: OverTheCap.com is basing the cap percentages on estimated salary caps of $180.5M in 2021, $227M in 2022, and $241M in 2023.
Now, before someone jumps into the comments and says, “There’s no dead money if you restructure the contract.” (again) That’s not true.
Imagine you have a credit card with a $39M balance. That’s money you’ve already spent; money you cannot get back. It’s done, it’s gone, you owe the credit card company $39M.
Now imagine that another credit card company gives you a “balance transfer” option and you can transfer $10M to that card and not have to make payments on it for an entire year.
Sounds great, right?
Except that instead of having a $39M balance on one card, you now have a $29M balance on the original card and a $10M balance on the new card. You owe the money to both of them, and it still totals $39M.
Which is WHY restructuring Russell Wilson’s contract was never an option.
At least not for this series. And maybe not at all.
Greatness is overrated
Stats geeks will cite numbers all day, including WAR (Wins Above Replacement) as proof that Seattle would be foolish to move on from Russell Wilson. And I get that. I mean, numbers don’t lie - except when they do.
As an example, this super cool article (which might be behind a pay wall; my apologies if so) says that Seattle’s own Chris Carson is AWESOME (which he is) and that he is the 2nd-best running back in this year’s free agent class (which . . . maybe). But it’s all based on WAR and WAR assumes that your replacement is, himself, only league average.
Which often isn’t the case.
But that also isn’t my point. My point is that greatness - in the form of any one player - can be challenged, overwhelmed, and ultimately defeated.
Russell Wilson, for all his greatness, cannot win a game by himself. And that’s basically what the Seahawks are asking him to do , , , week after week after week.
Increasing your odds
Bill Barnwell posted an article on ESPN on February 22nd that talked about how the draft is a crapshoot and that no one, not even the great Bill Belichick bats a thousand all the time.
(that’s the super-paraphrased summary of the article - oh, and it definitely IS behind a paywall; ESPN+, yay!)
But in that article, he quoted Warren Buffett who said, in a 1986 shareholder letter: “(W)e simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”
Right now, more than half of the teams are afraid that their quarterback isn’t good enough to get them to where they want to go, whether that’s the Super Bowl, the playoffs, a .500 record, or in the case of the Jets, maybe 4-12.
Seattle has one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Hands down; top 5, without question; probably top 3, although some would debate that.
But Seattle has a problem - THREE problems, as I detailed in Part Seven - and trading Russell Wilson, taking advantage of the FEAR that other teams are feeling . . . could reap huge rewards.
Think about Part Three. I said that Seattle could get the #3 overall pick and the #18 overall pick and the #81 overall pick (Round 3) and last year’s #5 overall pick, QB Tua Tagovailoa.
And I think that I may have been conservative in my estimate.
But let’s roll with that for a moment.
And keep in mind the FEAR that other teams have.
This draft has 3 QBs (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson) that will arguably go 1-2-3 at the top of the draft. And you have another QB, Trey Lance, that could easily go in the Top 10. And there are way more than 4 teams that feel like they NEED a QB.
Heck, just between #5 and #20, you’ve got Philly (#6), Carolina (#8), Denver (#9), San Francisco (#12), New England (#15), Las Vegas - maybe (#17), Washington (#19), and Chicago (#20).
After the top 3 QBs, you’ve got 3 WRs who are all grouped together and should all come off the board in the first 7-9 picks. How many teams in the league NEED a really good wideout? ALL of them? Maybe?
Please save the “Seattle will need one too if we trade DK” comments - we’d still have Tyler Lockett and he’s currently slated to be in the top-10 league-wide for cap hits next season; I’d say he’s pretty good.
Seriously, if the Seahawks were comfortable with #18 being their first pick of the draft, they could probably flip the #3 pick three or four times and turn that ONE pick into 7, 8, maybe 9 picks; all of them in the Top 100. Plus maybe some future picks as well.
FACT: The NFL Draft is a crapshoot. What gives you better odds of improving your team; having ONE pick in the Top 100 (#55 overall) or having 10+ picks in the Top 100?
Hypothetically . . .
Which offensive line would you prefer to have your QB line up behind:
- LT Duane Brown ($14M), LG Matt Feiler ($6M), OC Kyle Fuller (cheap), RG Damien Lewis (R2 rookie scale), and RT Brandon Shell ($5.5M); or
- LT Penei Sewell (R1 rookie scale), LG Wyatt Davis (R2 rookie scale), OC Landon Dickerson (R2 rookie scale), RG Damien Lewis (R2 rookie scale), and RT Christian Darrisaw (R1 rookie scale)
Would there be growing pains with Option 2? Absolutely. But your entire offensive line would cost you about what Duane Brown does and it would be guaranteed to be together as a unit for at least the next 3-5 years.
Plus, you’d have an Alabama center (Dickerson) snapping the ball to an Alabama quarterback (Tagovailoa) who could turn around and hand it to an Alabama running back (Najee Harris) on one play and then hand it to North Carolina running back Javonte Williams on the next play.
Which brings us to Hypothetical #2.
Which 3 backs would you rather have as your Top 3 on the depth chart in 2021:
- RB1 Rashaad Penny, RB2 DeeJay Dallas, and RB3 Travis Homer; or
- RB1 Javonte Williams; RB2 Najee Harris; RB3 does it really matter? Williams + Harris would be one of the top RB-tandems in the league from Day 1.
Would the draft have to fall exactly right for what I’m tossing out hypothetically?
Sewell would have to slide to #9 - which is possible.
But there are other tackles that Seattle could get if he’s gone, and Darrisaw is an LT by trade so you’d be looking for a RT in Round 2 (or 3), not an LT.
Trading back multiple times gets you the picks you need for Dickerson and Davis.
And Davis is replaceable.
Seattle could grab OG Ben Davis with an R3 and not lose much (if anything). Seattle could also grab an R2 or R3 tackle and move them to LG.
In regard to Javonte Williams and Najee Harris, both should be available in the middle of Round 2; #50 to #60 range. Seattle already has #55; you just need another one in that range. Obviously you grab Williams first and then grab Harris.
And, honestly, I’d give back a pick if I had to move up to grab Harris because while either Wiliams or Harris would be good; BOTH would be so, so, so much better!
Here’s where it gets really fun though . . .
All of that is just the O-line and the running backs.
If Seattle trades Wilson AND Metcalf and then trades back a few times, they could have an O-line that’s nothing but high draft picks + the 2 rookie running backs + a wideout like Kadarius Toney and multiple defensive players (LB Zaven Collins, for instance); all of whom would have been selected within the first 100 picks.
That’s not fantasy.
Seattle could start Round 1 with 2 of the first 7 picks and 3 of the first 18.
In the first 10 picks, 3 or 4 QBs and 3 wideouts WILL come off the board and, if I were John and Pete, I would leverage the heck out of that and get half a dozen Day 2 picks, probably more, while still having 3 picks in the first round.
And ending up with three R1s in the 20-32 range would not be a bad thing.
Yes, there’s a difference between LB Micah Parsons and LB Zaven Collins, but it’s not THAT big of a difference.
And, yes, there’s (probably) a difference between Kadarius Toney and the “big 3” receivers at the top of the board (Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle), but it’s not THAT big of a difference.
And, honestly, I would definitely prefer Toney and the “extra” picks over any of the top 3 - even with an Alabama quarterback throwing the ball.
I love, love, LOVE Russell Wilson. But his salary is killing Seattle and he is NOT better for the team than last year’s #5 overall pick, 10 or so of the first 100 picks in this year’s draft, and some future picks.
I would take Tua Tagovailoa and the draft picks.
Especially if I can also get #7 and #71 from Detroit for DK Metcalf (plus Detroit’s R1 and R3 next year).
I mean, seriously . . . think about this for a moment from a logistical standpoint.
You’ve seen the depth chart.
You know about the cap space and the draft capital.
How are you going to fill out the roster with what Seattle has available AND give the team a better chance of winning it all?
I’m only subtracting two players (excluding free agents).
And I’m potentially adding a dozen that could be . . . good, maybe really good.
I’m also freeing up $60M in cap space (from Russ alone) over the next three years - and that’s after adding in the cost of Tua Tagovailoa’s contract.
I’m telling you that we could have an above-average offensive line for about $15M - $20M per season for the next 4 years, a top-5 running back duo that would have a total cap hit in 2021 of about $1.6M, a tackle-breaking wide receiver, and a bunch of quality pieces on the defense: D-line, EDGE, LB, maybe even a corner or two . . .
Plus the QB who was the #5 overall choice last year.
And you’re saying that what Seattle has now + what Seattle can get with 4 draft picks and $7,354 of cap space gives the Seahawks a better chance of winning multiple Lombardi trophies over the next 5 years?
Because Messrs. Wilson and Metcalf are UNTOUCHABLE.
Look . . .
I know that trading Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf - especially doing it “early” - isn’t a popular position.
But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be the best move for the team.
Thank you for sticking with me through my maiden voyage here on FieldGulls.
I appreciate all of you.