As the Seahawks disappointing 2021 campaign comes to a close, I have some thoughts about the season that was and what’s to come. And while I might normally sort of squeeze a 13th thought into the intro, today I’m going to jump right in ‘cuz time is short and there’s a Seahawks game to prepare for!
I wrote a pair of articles at the end of December that said, in part, that I was not inclined to make excuses for Seattle’s “lost season.”
- Article 1: A ‘Point’-ed look at the Seahawks’ lost season
- Article 2: The Seahawks offense is still a work-in-progress
A lot can change in a week (or so) but, as then, I am still not interested in excuses.
That said, explanations are different than excuses and here’s one explanation, courtesy of ESPN’s Brady Henderson, that says a lot to me:
... Seattle really isn’t that much worse than teams of years past. The 2019 and 2020 Seahawks outperformed their Pythagorean expectation by winning close games; they went a combined 23-9 with an expected win total of 18.2 wins, owing to the fact that Wilson & Co. went 16-5 in games decided by seven points or fewer. This season, they are 6-10 with the point differential of an 8.6-win team, which is right in line with their 9.1-expected win average between 2019 and 2020. The difference is that they have gone 2-5 in the one-score games.
That’s a lot of words to say that the Seahawks .762 winning percentage in one-score games in 2019 and 2020 and watched it fall to .286 in one-score games this year.
Also, it’s probably worth noting that the article I pulled that quote from predicts that Seattle is the most likely team to go from last place this season to first place next season. With some caveats relating to offseason decisions that need to be made.
Speaking of “offseason decisions that need to be made,” put me in the boat that says the Seahawks will enter the 2022 season with the same regime they’ve had since 2012.
JS + PC + RW3.
I am not saying that I think that is 100% the right decision, just that I think it’s the route the team will ultimately decide to take when all is said and done.
And, generally speaking, I am in favor of it.
2021 was a very weird year.
Speaking of weirdness ...
Russell Wilson was, statistically, pretty darn good before the Week 5 finger incident. Including his 3 quarters of action against the Rams, Wilson completed 90 of his 125 pass attempts (72%) for 1,196 yards with 9 touchdowns vs. 1 interception, and his passer rating to that point was a league-leading 122.62.
But Seattle’s offense was wildly inconsistent and, through Week 4, ranked 27th overall in 3rd-down conversion rate.
Fast forward 13 weeks.
After last weekend’s blowout win over the Detroit Lions, in which the Seahawks went a season-best 7-of-12 on 3rd down, Seattle’s offense ranks ... 27th.
Today’s game is a tough one for me.
Part of that is the fact that I firmly believe that the Seahawks are better than their record indicates and should have been playing for a playoff spot today.
Another part of it is the knowledge that this game could mark the end of an era if the team decides that “drastic” steps are needed following a season that resulted in double-digit losses for the first time since 2009.
And, part of it is my absolute distaste for the House of Horrors that is State Farm Stadium; the ender of so many Seahawk careers.
Most of it though is that I cannot, in good conscience, root against my beloved Seahawks, even if I would all but sell my soul to see anyone win the NFC West instead of the team that my pseudonym curses (FTR forever!).
And so I find myself wanting Seattle to win despite the bile that threatens to spew forth if the Seahawks actually DO win.
As I said, today’s game is a tough one for me.
Anyone who follows the Seahawks knows that the fanbase is split over the 2020 trade that brought Jamal Adams to Seattle. The cost was high at the time (2 R1s, an R3, and a player for Adams and an R4), and has only gotten higher since then with the New York Jets expected to have a Top-10 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, courtesy of Seattle’s poor season; a pick that is currently slated to be #7 overall.
Ignoring that side of the equation ... and the fact that the coaching staff didn’t put Adams in a position this year to back up his NFL record for single-season sacks by a defensive back ... and that Adams has missed games due to injury each of the last two seasons ... and that no one seems to know what the on-field plan is for him going forward ...
I am 99.9% certain that Jamal Adams is going to be in Seattle for at least 2 more years.
If Seattle traded him this offseason, it would cost them $28.44M against their 2022 cap. That amount of dead money is:
- $2.44M more than Russell Wilson has on his contract; and
- $19.33M more than it would cost to keep Jamal Adams on the roster
If the words “deal” and “breaker” aren’t already on your lips, here’s an additional point against trading Mr. Adams:
Trading Jamal Adams this offseason would effectively result in Seattle having paid $37,030,292 for two seasons of service (on top of the draft picks they gave up to get him) which is about $23.6M more than Seattle would have spent had they NOT extended him and simply let him walk away after today’s game.
That seems extremely counterintuitive to me.
Now, assuming that Seattle does hang onto Jamal Adams this offseason (which seems likely), what about NEXT offseason?
I’m glad you asked.
After the 2022 season, the dead money on Jamal’s contract falls to $21.33M, but ...
The 3-year cost for his service would end up being $39,030,292 which gives him an average of $13M (and change) which, yes, it’s better than the 2-year average of $18.5M, but ... it’s still quite steep.
Especially when you consider that Seattle could have paid a total of $13,450,292 for the last 2 seasons and then let him go.
Bottom line: Get used to seeing #33 in Seattle’s secondary. And hope that the coaches figure out how to “properly” use him.
Despite being under contract for the 2022 season, there is widespread speculation that Bobby Wagner has played his last game for the Seahawks. This, despite recent quotes from BWagz:
I understand there is a business side to this, but there’s a lot of optimism on my end that I’ll be back. I’m not worried about it. Obviously, I can’t control everything. I can only control my part, and my part on this is I feel like I love this city, I love this team, I love the Seahawks. I always wanted to be a part of a franchise in the good times and bad times and every time. This is a team that I would love to be able to be a part of for a very, very long time. On my end, that’s where I’m at, that I’m a Seahawk until they tell me I’m not. That’s my mindset.
And from Pete Carroll:
I would love Bobby to play here forever, He’s been as solid as you could ever want a player to be. We’ve kind of grown up as Seahawks together in this program over the years, and I’d love for him to be here. I don’t see why we would be thinking anything else.
Now, to be fair, Bobby did acknowledge that “there is a business side to this” and Pete, while not coming right out and saying it, is well aware that business trumps emotion in situations like this. Especially when a (non-quarterback) player entering their 11th season is slated to account for roughly 10% of next year’s salary cap.
Where there’s a will there’s a way though. Right?
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks Bobby Wagner is going to play out his current contract with the Seahawks, myself included. Not with a $20.35M cap hit next season.
If the team wants to keep him around another season (they should) and they don’t want to extend him another 2-3 years (they shouldn’t), they still have an option that “Bobby the businessman” (i.e. the guy who negotiates his own contacts) would undoubtedly agree to.
As currently structured, Bobby’s contract looks like this next season:
- $16.35M base salary
- $250k in per-game roster bonuses
- $3.75M prorated signing bonus
- $20.35M total cap hit
But what if the team restructured his contract (by, say, converting $15M of his base salary to a signing bonus) and added some void years - either 2 or 4?
Option 1: Same money, but with 2 void years added:
- $1.35M base pay
- $250k in per-game roster bonuses
- $8.75M prorated signing bonus
- $10.35M cap hit in 2022
Technically, this arrangement would have $5M prorated signing bonuses in both 2023 and 2024, but in actuality, all $10M would hit the Hawks’ cap in 2023 when the contract voided.
Option 2: Same money, but with 4 void years added:
- $1.35M base pay
- $250k in per-game roster bonuses
- $6.75M prorated signing bonus
- $8.35M cap hit in 2022
As with Option 1, this contract restructuring would technically spread the prorated signing bonus across multiple seasons ($3M per year from 2023 to 2026), but all of it ($12M) would hit Seattle’s cap in 2023 when the contract voided.
I’m not saying this is the route Seattle will go with Bobby, just that there are multiple options that the team (and the player) can consider.
And, speaking of void years ...
Until this season, the Seahawks had never used void years in any of their player contracts. And for good reason. 2021 was an odd year though, and it made sense to break with tradition / established precedent to try to field a competitive team.
Obviously that didn’t work out as the Seahawks expected.
And the bill is about to come due.
Here is the complete list of players with void years in their current contract, along with contract details for next season (if applicable) and the eventual cost of including void years in these contracts:
* Important Note: Multiple void years spread out cap hits initially but hit the cap together once the contract voids.
- Benson Mayowa: Under contract through 2022 ($2.5M base salary + $510k in per-game roster bonuses); void years in 2023 and 2024 at $750k per; both would hit the Seahawks’ cap in 2023 ($1.5M total)
- Carlos Dunlap: Under contract through 2022 ($4.075M base salary + $175k roster bonus + $850k in per-game roster bonuses); void years in 2023, 2024, and 2025 at $1.4M per; total of $4.2M will hit Seattle’s cap in 2023.
- Chris Carson: Under contract through 2022 ($4.5M base salary + $425k roster bonus); void year in 2023 at $1.5M
- Duane Brown: Contract voids at the end of this season; $3.5M cap hit in 2022
- Ethan Pocic: Contract voids after this season: $1M cap hit in 2022
- Gerald Everett: Contract voids after this season; $2M cap hit in 2022
- Kerry Hyder: Under contract through 2022 ($2.425M base salary + $425k in per-game roster bonuses); $850k cap hit in 2023 when his contract voids
- Quandre Diggs: Contract voids at the end of this season; $2.525M cap hit in 2022
Add all of that up and it looks like this:
- $9.025M in 2022
- $8.05M in 2023
- $17.075M total
There are, of course, a couple caveats about the above information:
One. It is subject to change.
For example, if the Seahawks sign Quandre Diggs to a new contract, that would impact the above calculations. Likewise, if the Seahawks were to release (or trade) Chris Carson or one of the 3 D-linemen listed above, that would push their 2023 cap hits onto the 2022 cap.
Two. Per OTC, the Seahawks currently have $18,916,846 left from this year’s salary cap ... which is enough to cover the cost of the void years
That’s probably not a coincidence.
John P. Gilbert had an article the other day that detailed which of Seattle’s players are going to be Unrestricted Free Agents (UFAs) this offseason: Lot of Seahawks could play their final game for Seattle on Sunday against Cardinals
From the list that he compiled / shared, my top three, probably in this order, are:
- Quandre Diggs
- D.J. Reed
- Gerald Everett
Here is my rationale:
Re-signing Q.D. is going to be expensive and the Seahawks are going to pay a price for not signing him to an extension last offseason. Hopefully that price doesn’t involve him suiting up for another team next year.
From my perspective, Seattle needs Quandre Diggs in their secondary the exact same way the Legion of Boom needed Earl Thomas. We saw what happened when ET3 left (I still have PTSD from the Tedric Thompson experience) and we cannot risk history repeating by letting Quandre Diggs leave.
Like Diggs, Reed is also going to be expensive. And, like Diggs, Seattle is going to pay the price for not extending Reed after his stellar 2020 season.
In the Comments section of the aforementioned article, JPG said this:
My guess is that when Reed signs it’s going to be a deal that surprises a lot of people, and I expect Reed to beat Diggs on both total contract size and average per year.
Personally, I think JPG is right about Reed’s contract surprising people. And, given his age (he turned 25 on November 11th), I think it’s possible that the total contract size of Reed’s contract will surpass that of Quandre Diggs. I’m less certain about the per-year average though; I think Diggs will end up ahead of Reed there.
As for need, D.J. Reed is the lock-down corner the Seahawks have never had on the right side of the field under the current regime. And it goes without saying that he’s lightyears better than the cast of characters that have manned the RCB role the past few seasons.
Honestly, I have no clue as to why Seattle signed him for only one year last offseason. It made almost zero sense then and makes even less sense now.
As Stan Taylor pointed out yesterday, Gerald Everett quietly put together a career season in 2021.
Digging into the numbers a bit ...
Over his first 4 seasons, Everett had 137 receptions on 204 targets (67.2%) for 1,389 yards and 8 touchdowns while playing in a total of 61 games, but only 11 of them as a starter.
This season, he’s matched his career total with 11 starts.
He’s been targeted 60 times, which matches his total from 2019 and is only 2 behind his career-high last season.
He’s exceeded his career-high in receptions with 47 (previous high was 41) and obliterated his previous career-best catch rate (78.3% vs. 66.1%), while also setting a career high for receiving yards (458) and touchdowns (4).
Everett is clearly going to cash in this offseason.
And Seattle clearly needs him.
Everett is #3 in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns ... behind only Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf in all 4 categories.
The only question is cost.
Duane Brown is #4 on my list, but his age and evident decline this season offsets the importance of having a quality Left Tackle. Brown’s 32 total pressures aren’t terrible (he had 36 last season), but 8 of the 32 have been sacks and that is not acceptable - especially not after having given up a total of 8 sacks the previous 3 seasons combined.
As much as it pains me to say this, I think Seattle should consider going a different route on the left side of their line.
Unless Mr. Brown is open to returning on a team-friendly deal.
If so, I might swap him and Gerald Everett, priority-wise, as Left Tackle trumps Tight End.
DK Metcalf is eligible for an extension this offseason.
And, man, is it gonna hurt.
Despite Seattle’s man-child having something of a “down” season in 2021, Spotrac’s “NFL Market Value” predictor is estimating that D.K.’s value warrants a 4-year, $70.75M deal that averages just shy of $17.7M per season.
That puts him at #7 on their Wide Receiver list, behind:
- Davante Adams (5/$133M; $26.6M avg.)
- Stefon Diggs (4/$91.8M; $22.95M avg.)
- Cooper Kupp (4/$90.66M; $22.67M avg.)
- Chris Godwin (5/$91.6M; $18.3M avg.)
- Terry McLaurin (5/$90.2M; $18.04M avg.)
- Deebo Samuel (5/$90M; $18M avg.)
Diggs and Kupp aren’t free agents until 2024 though so, really, that makes DK #5 on that list. And, if accurate, the $17.7M average would put Metcalf squarely between Allen Robinson ($17.98M per season) and Tyler Lockett ($17.25M per year) who currently sit at #8 and #9, respectively, in the salary hierarchy of NFL wideouts.
That, of course, brings me to the real point of this thought ... the fact that DK’s looming extension is going to HURT.
Tyler Lockett is currently under contract through 2025 with $74.7M worth of cap hits over the next 4 seasons, starting with a reasonable $10.05M cap hit in 2022 and culminating with back-to-back cap hits of $23.95M in 2024 and 2025.
Can Seattle afford to be paying top-tier salaries to two wide receivers?
If not, DK Metcalf would appear to be the odd-man out given that Lockett has $31.2M in dead money on his contract right now and would still have $21.15M in dead money following the 2022 season.
Between the dead money and his age, Lockett is damn near untradeable.
Which brings us back to DK Metcalf and his looming, budget-breaking extension.
A lot of 12s thought I was crazy when I started off my Field Gulls writing career by, among other things, suggesting, way back on February 12th, 2021, that I would trade DK Metcalf if I were John and Pete.
Admittedly, it’s a harder call now. And not just because DK’s place in franchise history is now well-established.
- #13 all-time in receptions with 211 (3 behind Shaun Alexander, 7 behind Mack Strong)
- #11 all-time in receiving yards with 3,112 (297 behind Sam McCullum)
- #8 all-time in receiving touchdowns with 29 (5 behind Brian Blades)
- #3 all-time in yards per game at 64.8 (0.6 ypg behind Steve Largent; 2.3 ypg behind Darrell Jackson)
That is quite the resume for a player that just turned 24 on December 14th.
And yet ...
Given the circumstances, and the expected return (in draft capital and/or players), it’s not unreasonable to think that today’s game could be the last one DK plays in a Seahawks uniform.
As Alanis would say, “Isn’t it ironic? Don’t you think?” (And, yes, I know that nothing in that song is actually ironic.)
Let’s revisit Seattle’s situation in regard to D.J. Reed ....
Earlier, I wrote:
D.J. Reed is the lock-down corner the Seahawks have never had on the right side of the field under the current regime. And it goes without saying that he’s lightyears better than the cast of characters that have manned the RCB role the past few seasons.
Interestingly, Reed isn’t all that great on the left side. I noted this back at the end of September when I wrote that the Seahawks are squandering D.J. Reed’s potential by playing him out of position. Thankfully, Pete Carroll read that article (or maybe not) and moved Reed to RCB the very next game.
Reed at LCB, Weeks 1-3: 10 receptions allowed on 16 targets (62.5%) for 101 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus a pair of penalties. Passer rating against: 120.05.
Reed at RCB, Weeks 4-17*: 23 receptions allowed on 48 targets (47.9%) for 280 yards. Zero touchdowns allowed. 2 Interceptions + 6 Pass Break-Ups (PBUs). And only 3 penalties (1 declined). Passer rating against: 48.96.
* Reed missed Weeks 15 & 16 while on the COVID/Reserve list.
For comparison, here are the numbers for the cornerback that is widely considered the best in the league: 56 receptions allowed on 87 targets (64.4%) for 507 yards. Two touchdowns, 3 INTs, 12 PBUs, and 9 penalties (4 declined). Passer rating against: 73.3.
That’s not to say that Reed is Ramsey-esque and deserves a contract that averages $20M per season. But, the numbers do give you something to think about.
Personally, I think that the Seahawks may end up giving D.J. Reed the contract that they didn’t give Shaquill Griffin last offseason. After all, given his performance this year (at RCB), 3 years and $40M seems like it might end up being a bargain.
As the 2021 season draws to a close, so too does my first year as a staff writer for Field Gulls. It has been an interesting experience. Will I be back next year? I don’t know. I will, however, re-purpose part of Bobby Wagner’s quote from Thought #6:
This is a team that I would love to be able to be a part of for a very, very long time. On my end, that’s where I’m at, that I’m a
SeahawkField Gulls writer until they tell me I’m not.
And I’ll close with our favorite Russell Wilson quote: