The 2021 NFL Playoffs will get started Saturday afternoon when the Las Vegas Raiders and Cincinnati Bengals play in the Wild Card Round. For just the second time in the decade that Russell Wilson has been in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks will be at home watching from the couch for the playoffs rather than participating.
That, of course, means that the offseason has begun, and things are shaping up for it to be a fascinating offseason. Obviously there is still plenty of football left to be played, but for the Seahawks front office and scouting personnel, it’s time to hit high gear in preparation for free agency and the draft. Wednesday marks exactly nine weeks until the start of the new NFL league year on March 16 at 4 PM New York Time when players whose contracts have expired will become unrestricted free agents. There is, of course, the two day legal tampering period prior to that which begins Monday March 14, which is when rumors and reports of deals having been reached will begin to trickle in.
With free agency so close, the focus for fans becomes, as always, the amount of cap space their favorite team will have available when free agency kicks off. So, the first place to start is looking at the amount of cap space from 2021 the team will rollover into 2022. Per the NFLPA Public Salary cap report, the Seahawks finished the 2021 season with $10,596,317 of cap space, so that’s the number that will be used.
Next, of course, is to look at what the 2022 salary cap is expected to be, and that number is $208,200,000. Putting the $10,596,317 of rollover together with the 2022 cap number of $208,200,000, the Seahawks should have a team cap of $218,796,317.
From there it is obviously necessary to deduct the obligations to the players already contracted for 2022 and dead money, and according to OverTheCap.com those come in at $166,377,035. So deducting the $166,377,035 from the team cap number of $218,796,317 yields $52,419,282, and that will be the starting point for these calculations.
The first thing that needs to be done is to fill out the roster, as the $166,377,035 from OTC only accounts for 33 players under contract for 2022. Those numbers do not yet include Tyler Mabry’s promotion to the active roster on Saturday, or the dozen players the Seahawks signed to future contracts on Monday. In addition, those numbers do not include the Exclusive Rights Free Agents the team is likely to be bring back in 2022. The math behind all of these calculations is not exciting, so it seems simplest to jump right to the $15,690,000 total, which once deducted from the $52,419,282 leaves $36,729,282.
Next it is necessary to deduct the money which will be necessary to cover the draft picks of the team, which will be $1,254,842 given the half dozen picks the team currently holds. This leaves the cap space available at $35,474,440.
From there, it is also necessary to account for the fact that both DK Metcalf and Ugo Amadi qualified for the Proven Performance Escalator, which will give each of them an automatic raise in 2022 from their current salary levels. The combined raise for the two will be $4,333,629, leaving the Hawks with $31,140,811 available to resign their free agents and to play in free agency.
Before setting forth plans on how to spend that money, however, it is of course necessary to keep in mind that teams need to keep a reserve of cap space available to cover the practice squad and injured reserve. Exactly how large these reserves need to be for 2022 will depend in large part on whether the COVID Amendments to the CBA are extended, or whether the league returns to old practice squad and injured reserve rules. In any case, it’s likely that these reserves will be somewhere in the $6M-$7M either way. That said, this is not money that the team necessarily needs to set aside during the offseason, as it does not actually need to have the space for a practice squad until September, and the IR pool isn’t actually needed until players land on IR and replacements are needed.
In short, while there are graphics floating around on social media showing the Seahawks with $55M of cap space available for the upcoming season, the reality is that the team has closer to $25M of effective cap space available for use. For readers who prefer these numbers in a more easy to digest table format, here they are.
Seahawks 2022 salary cap picture as of January 12
|Item||Amount||Total Cap Space|
|Item||Amount||Total Cap Space|
|2022 NFL Cap||$208,200,000||$218,796,317|
|ERFAs & Future Contracts||-$15,690,000||$36,729,282|
|PPE (Metcalf & Amadi)||-$4,333,629||$31,140,811|
|Practice Squad & IR (not needed until September)||-$6,000,000||$25,140,811|
|Effective cap space||$25,140,811|
Now, that number could, of course, be easily increased through any of a number of moves the team could make, specifically regarding the contracts of Jason Myers, Bobby Wagner, Poona Ford, DK Metcalf and others. However, those are questions that do not necessarily need answers immediately, and can wait until later in the year.