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2021 Seahawks ‘Way Too Early’ 53-Man Roster Projection: The salary cap implications

Generic bookeeping on 20 May 2004. AFR Picture by LOUISE KENNERLEY Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images

Like John P. Gilbert, my attention has started to turn toward which players will end up making the Seahawks’ final 53-man roster. I had considered taking my own shot at a “way too early” prediction, but he beat me to it so I will piggyback on his predictions instead and look at what the cap implications of the JPG roster would be.

Note: All cap numbers are taken from the Seahawks page on OTC (OverTheCap.com) Unless otherwise noted, all dead money calculations are based on the player being released after June 1st.



Special Teams

JPG started with the offense, but I’m starting with Special Teams because I like low-hanging fruit. There are three “specialist” positions: Kicker, Punter, and Long Snapper. There are a total of three players on the roster for those three positions. Thus, unless something changes in the next 90(ish) days, there will be zero cuts on Special Teams.

Total salary cap impact: $8,921,538

  • Kicker = Jason Myers = $4,350,000
  • Punter = Michael Dickson = $3,456,538
  • Long Snapper = Tyler Ott = $1,115,000

Worth noting: Myers has the 8th highest cap hit on the team this year and Dickson has the 11th highest.

Also worth noting: Without a contract extension, Michael Dickson will be a free agent after this season (the other two are under contract through 2022).



Offense

JPG predicted that the team would keep 26 players on offense: 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 1 FB, 6 WRs, 4 TEs, 4 OTs, and 5 IOLs.

For those that don’t think the Seahawks will carry an unbalanced roster, they had 26 offensive players after final cuts last year. The breakdown in 2020 was 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 4 TEs, 4 OTs, and 6 IOLs.

It is, of course, worth noting that the breakdowns would be identical had the Hawks not taken a “calculated risk” last year by releasing Nick Bellore (their FB) so they could carry Phil Haynes (their 6th IOL) an “extra” day. Doing so allowed them to avoid putting Haynes on season-ending IR and the team re-signed Bellore 2 days later.


Quarterback

Keep: Russell Wilson and Geno Smith

Cut: Alex McGough and Danny Etling

Total salary cap impact: $32,987,500

  • Wilson = $32,000,000
  • Smith = $987,500
  • No dead money for McGough or Etling

Running Back

  • Keep: Chris Carson, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas and Rashaad Penny
  • Cut: Alex Collins, B.J. Emmons and Josh Johnson

Total salary cap impact: $7,915,139

  • Carson = $2,700,000
  • Homer = $885,840
  • Dallas = $903,600
  • Penny = $3,425,366
  • Emmons = $333
  • No dead money for Collins or Johnson

Worth noting: As JPG mentioned, Collins’ best chance to make the team probably involves a decision to move on from Rashaad Penny (JPG mentions a trade but an outright release is also possible).

Here is the relevant information from Rashaad Penny’s contract:

  • $1,477,352 prorated signing bonus
  • $580,000 of $1,948,014 base salary is guaranteed
  • Cap savings = $1,948,014 if traded; $1,368,014 if released

Of course, keeping Collins means paying Collins and with Collins having a cap hit of $850,000, the net savings from moving on from Penny would be:

  • $1,098,014 (if Penny were traded)
  • $518,014 (if released)

Fullback

Keep: Pro Bowler Nick Bellore

Cut: None. Bellore’s the only fullback on the roster.

Total salary cap impact: $1,700,000


Wide Receiver

Keep: Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, D’Wayne Eskridge, Freddie Swain, Penny Hart and John Ursua

Cut: Aaron Fuller, Cade Johnson, Darvin Kidsy, Tamorrion Terry, Cody Thompson and Connor Wedington

Total salary cap impact: $12,763,883

  • Lockett = $8,050,000
  • Metcalf = $1,250,741
  • Eskridge = $1,082,457
  • Swain = $812,353
  • Hart = $780,000
  • Ursua = $780,000
  • Terry = $1,666
  • Wedington = $6,666
  • No dead money for Fuller, Johnson, Kidsy, or Thompson

Worth noting: Neither Penny Hart nor John Ursua have any dead money on their contract and Freddie Swain’s dead money is only $32,353 which means all 3 are vulnerable from a cap-perspective and are far from “guaranteed” to make the team.

Of the 6 wideouts that JPG cut, only Darvin Kidsy ($780,000) would have a base salary higher than the NFL minimum ($660,000) if retained.


Tight End

Keep: Gerald Everett, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson and Tyler Mabry

Cut: Nick Guggemos and Cam Sutton

Total salary cap impact: $6,690,177

  • Everett = $4,000,000
  • Dissly = $1,082,567
  • Parkinson = $947,610
  • Mabry = $660,000
  • No dead money for Guggemos or Sutton

Tackle

Keep: Duane Brown, Brandon Shell, Stone Forsythe and Cedric Ogbuehi

Cut: Jamarco Jones, Greg Eiland, Jake Curhan and Tommy Champion

Total salary cap impact: $21,188,112

  • Brown = $13,291,176
  • Shell = $5,350,000
  • Forsythe = $701,656
  • Ogbuehi = $1,773,529
  • Jones = $61,251
  • Eiland = $1,000
  • Curhan = $9,500
  • Champion = $0


Interior Offensive Line

Keep: Gabe Jackson, Ethan Pocic, Damien Lewis, Kyle Fuller and Phil Haynes

Cut: Brad Lundblade, Jared Hocker, Pier-Olivier Lestage and Jordan Simmons

Total salary cap impact: $9,231,842

  • Jackson = $4,075,000
  • Pocic = $2,000,000
  • Lewis = $1,114,124
  • Fuller = $920,000
  • Haynes = 1,022,718
  • Simmons = $100,000
  • No dead money for Lundblade, Hocker, or Lestage

Worth noting: The Seahawks are carrying $1M in dead money at this position from last year’s trade of BJ Finney to the Cincinnati Bengals. That dead money will be included in the calculations at the end of this article.



Defense

JPG predicted that the team would keep 24 players on defense: 3 DTs, 6 DEs, 6 LBs, 5 CBs, and 4 Safeties.

Last year the team also kept 24; the breakdown was 3 DTs, 5 DEs, 6 LBs, 5 CBs, and 5 Safeties.

Last year’s “big surprise” on Cut-down Day was the Hawks releasing Shaquem Griffin. Fortunately, he cleared waivers and the team ended up signing him to the practice squad the next day - after he turned down offers from 3 other teams to return to Seattle.

Could there be a similar surprise this year?

Probably not.

While some may disagree with his predictions, the “biggest” cuts JPG made on defense were low-cost veteran free agents and 2nd year players - none of which would count as “a surprise.”


Defensive Tackle

Keep: Poona Ford, Bryan Mone and Al Woods

Cut: Myles Adams, Jarrod Hewitt, Cedrick Lattimore, Walter Palmore, and Robert Nkemdiche

Total salary cap impact: $5,932,098

  • Ford = $2,670,000
  • Mone = $850,000
  • Woods: $2,411,765
  • Hewitt: $333
  • No dead money for Adams, Lattimore, Palmore, or Nkemdiche

Worth noting: The Seahawks are carrying $5M in dead money at this position courtesy of their decision to release Jarran Reed on March 26th. That dead money will be included in the summary at the end of this article.


Defensive End

Keep: L.J. Collier, Carlos Dunlap, Rasheem Green, Kerry Hyder, Alton Robinson and Benson Mayowa

Cut: Aldon Smith

Total salary cap impact: $12,198,769

  • Collier = $2,955,294
  • Dunlap = $2,900,000
  • Green = $1,148,139
  • Hyder = $1,950,000
  • Robinson = $867,836
  • Mayowa = $2,240,000
  • Smith = $137,500

Linebacker

Keep: Bobby Wagner, Jordyn Brooks, Cody Barton, Ben Burr-Kirven, Darrell Taylor and Nate Evans

Cut: Jon Rhattigan and Aaron Donkor

Total salary cap impact: $24,120,263

  • Wagner = $17,135,294
  • Brooks = $2,780,819
  • Barton = $1,071,031
  • Burr-Kirven = $935,730
  • Taylor = $1,537,389
  • Evans = $660,000
  • No dead money for Rhattigan or Donkor

As a reminder: Seattle added Aaron Donkor via the International Player Pathway Program (IPPP) and currently has a roster exemption for him, allowing them to carry 91 players into training camp rather than 90. This will result in the Seahawks trimming 38 players rather than 37 to get down to the 53-man limit on August 31st.


Safety

Keep: Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, Ryan Neal and Marquise Blair

Cut: Joshua Moon, LaDarius Wiley and Aashari Crosswell

Total salary cap impact: $18,625,355

  • Adams = $9,860,000
  • Diggs = $6,144,118
  • Neal = $920,000
  • Blair = $1,700,904
  • Crosswell = $333
  • No dead money for Moon or Wiley

Cornerback

Keep: D.J. Reed, Akhello Witherspoon, Tre Brown, Ugo Amadi and Tre Flowers

Cut: Pierre Desir, Gavin Heslop, Bryan Mills, Damarious Randall, Saivion Smith and Jordan Miller

Total salary cap impact: $8,040,811

  • Reed = $920,000
  • Witherspoon = $2,750,000
  • Brown = $820,166
  • Amadi = $1,011,298
  • Flowers = $2,257,681
  • Desir = $137,500
  • Mills = $6,666
  • Randall = $137,500
  • No dead money for Heslop, Smith, or Miller


Combined salary cap impact

Offense

Assuming JPG’s predictions are accurate, the total investment in the Seattle offense would be $93,476,653 which equates to approximately 51.2% of the 2021 salary cap of $182.5M.

Here is the offensive breakdown:

  • Quarterback = $32,987,500
  • Running Back = $7,915,139
  • Fullback = $1,700,000
  • Wide Receiver = $12,763,883
  • Tight End = $6,690,177
  • Tackle = $21,188,112
  • Interior O-Line = $9,231,842
  • Dead money for players who aren’t currently on the team = $1,000,000

Defense

The total investment on the defensive side of the ball (per JPG’s predictions) would be $73,917,296 which equates to approximately 40.5% of the 2021 salary cap.

Here is the defensive breakdown:

  • Defensive Tackles = $5,932,098
  • Defensive Ends = $12,198,769
  • Linebackers = $24,120,263
  • Safeties = $18,625,355
  • Cornerbacks = $8,040,811
  • Dead money for players who aren’t currently on the team = $5,000,000

Special Teams

The Seahawks are using 4.9% of their 2021 salary cap ($8,921,538) on the specialist positions (Kicker, Punter, and Long Snapper).


Offense + Defense + Special Teams

Adding it all together, the Hawks would be looking at having a total salary cap hit of $176,315,487 heading into Week 1.

  • Offense: $93,476,653
  • Defense: $73,917,296
  • Special Teams: $8,921,538

However, only the “Top 51” salaries count against the salary cap calculation. That means we get to drop the lowest two from our calculation:

  • Tyler Mabry: $660,000
  • Nate Evans: $660,000
  • Total cap hit for #52 and #53 = $1,320,000

Subtracting the bottom two salaries drops the total salary cap hit to $174,995,487 after the final round of cuts.


The bottom line

As of Monday, OTC showed the Seahawks with $175,574,815 in salary cap commitments for the 2021 season.

Here is the breakdown:

  • $169,574,815 from the Top 51 contracts
  • $6M in dead money from Jarran Reed and B.J. Finney

JPG’s 53-man roster would carry a total cap hit of $174,995,487.

The breakdown:

  • $158,395,239 from the Top 51 contracts
  • $6M in dead money from Jarran Reed and B.J. Finney
  • $600,248 in dead money from the players that JPG released

That is a difference of $579,328.

Only $579,328.

Is anyone else surprised by that result?

Thirty-eight players released and barely over half a million dollars saved.

That’s the NFL for you.

Go Hawks!