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Seahawks 2021 pre-draft checkup: The front office is ‘killing it’ this year

Part 1 of a 9-part series

NFL: SEP 15 49ers at Seahawks Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the NFL Draft approaching in a couple of weeks, it seems like a good time to take a look at the roster in its current state.

And I haven’t written a 9-part series yet this month, so . . . 2 birds, 1 stone.

Okay, 9 stones, but now we’re splitting hairs.


Series outline:

  • Part One: Series overview and initial thoughts
  • Part Two: The O-line
  • Part Three: Cornerbacks + safeties
  • Part Four: Linebackers
  • Part Five: Receivers
  • Part Six: Running backs
  • Part Seven: The D-line
  • Part Eight: The rest of the roster
  • Part Nine: Series recap and final thoughts

The offseason so far

Ignoring the drama, I think the Hawks have had a fabulous offseason thus far. Surprisingly, it has been much better than I expected it to be.

I do have questions though. And some concerns. And some over-arching thoughts. Which is, of course, why I am writing this series. But most of those are position-related which means they aren’t today’s topic.

Today, there are two things that I want to draw attention to:

The first one is how Seattle has gotten “creative” with the salary cap and how that compares to some other teams.

The other is how the Seahawks have fared in free agency - and why that might be a little misleading.


Getting “creative” with the salary cap

Adding void years to contracts was an obvious, yet inspired, approach to the depressed salary cap. Other teams have been using them for years, but Seattle had previously a-void-ed them.

Seahawks players with void years at the end of the 2020 season:

  • Zip
  • Zilch
  • Nada

Seahawks players with void years now:

Add that up and you’ll find that Seattle currently has 8 players with void years that total $12.65M.

Here is what I find interesting though . . .

The salary cap was $198.2M last year and settled at $182.5M this year. That’s a decrease of $15.7M for the 2021 season.

The total of the void years that Seattle has added to contracts ($12.65M) is roughly $3M less than the decrease in the salary cap ($15.7M).

Thus, from a practical perspective, the Hawks have essentially (to this point) approached the 2021 roster construction as if the cap remained flat.

Which seems, in a word, prudent.

Sure, Seattle has “borrowed from the future” / “used their salary cap credit card” (or however you want to phrase it), but they have done so in what appears to be an incredibly responsible and, shall we say, “Seahawk-y” way.

Other teams have not been nearly as responsible.

The Saints, for instance.

New Orleans currently has 7 active players with void years in their contracts. However, the void years in those 7 contracts total $38,451,875.

Their breakdown:

Oh, and let’s not forget the 2 void years on Drew Brees’ contract. He is retired, but he currently remains on their roster. Adding the $11.5M from his void years puts the Saints perilously close to $50M.

So . . . 8 players with void years for Seattle, and 8 with void years for the Saints. Seattle’s void years total $12.65M; New Orleans’ void years total $49,951,875.

And the Saints are not the league’s worst offenders either.

From what I can tell, the “worst offender” distinction goes to the Eagles who have a total of $55,695,879 in void year charges spread across fourteen contracts.

And the structure of a few of those contracts implies that the void year totals are going to grow (RT Lane Johnson, for example, has void years from 2026-2028 but the team can’t yet push any money to them).

Seeing numbers like those definitely gives one an appreciation for how the Seahawks handle their contracts in an overall sense as well as how the team has dealt with the unique circumstances this offseason.

It will be interesting to see if this year was/is an exception to the rule (which I think is the case) or if this is something the team will continue to use in the future.

Only time will tell.


Attracting and retaining free agents

By my count, Seattle has added 18 players to their roster so far this offseason.

One of those (Gabe Jackson) was acquired via a trade.

The other 17 were free agents.

Given where the team was cap-wise prior to the start of free agency, their ability to sign SEVENTEEN free agents seems extraordinary.

And it IS extraordinary.

But it is also a little misleading.

By my count, Seattle has only signed FIVE free agents from other teams.

  • Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, 49ers
  • Al Woods, DT, Jaguars
  • Aldon Smith, DE, Cowboys
  • Gerald Everett, TE, Rams
  • Kerry Hyder, DE, 49ers

I will dive into this a bit as the series continues, but the fact that we have only signed 5 outside free agents is a bit concerning - especially given the number (and nature) of our losses.

Yes, there is still a lot of time before the first game and there are still a lot of “moves” that the team can and undoubtedly will make.

But, as things stand right now, one could make the case that Seattle’s current “plan” is to roll with the same basic team in 2021 that they had in 2020 and hope that a few “tweaks” and a new OC is enough to get them past the wildcard round this year.

If so, color me skeptical.