As the Seattle Seahawks sit atop the NFC West and fans begin looking to the back half of the season and the playoffs, it is also a good time to begin to look at where the could fin itself in terms of cap space heading into the offseason.
Normally when doing this sort of analysis, the place to start is at the best and most reliable NFL contract site on the web, OverTheCap.com. From there, taking the projected 2023 cap space and then accounting for how much cap space will be needed to fill out the roster gives a good starting point. However, in this instance Jason Fitzgerald, the founder of OTC, has already laid just that out for every team.
2023 projected cap room (inc. carryover, $225M cap, rosters at 51 players)— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) November 6, 2022
As noted in the tweet, that amount includes starting at a full offseason roster of 51 players, along with the rollover from 2022 and is based on a salary cap of $225M.
$40.3M is certainly an attractive starting position for the Hawks, but there will be some other cap hits that likely need to be included. For starters, Damien Lewis has hit the playing time thresholds necessary to reach the Proven Performance Escalator, meaning he will see his 2023 base salary increase to $2.879M for next year, an increase of just over $1.6M. There is also an outside chance that Darrell Taylor could hit the PPE escalator, but due to his injury, at this point it is unlikely he sees enough snaps down the stretch to hit the playing time threshold to qualify for the PPE.
In addition, the team is scheduled to have four restricted free agents to whom tenders could be extended. These players are Tanner Muse, Penny Hart, Mike Jackson and Ryan Neal. It seems unlikely that Muse and Hart receive a tender, but it is very easy to see Jackson receiving an Original Round Tender and Neal receiving a second round tender. Those tenders are projected to be $2.629M and $4.308M, respectively, If those two are indeed tendered at those levels, it would require $5.4M beyond what has been accounted for by filling the roster with minimum salary players.
Putting those increases together, it would require the Seahawks to use $7M of the $40.3M starting point, putting the functional number at $33.3M. That is prior to allocating any money for draft picks or a practice squad and injury pool for the 2023 season.
Of course, that is also before signing a quarterback, which is where things could quickly get very tight.