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Ryan Neal and the other unsigned Seahawks subject to team control this offseason

Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

On Wednesday Field Gulls looked at the question of what the Seattle Seahawks will do when it comes to impending restricted free agent Phil Haynes. As a restricted free agent, Haynes is subject to team control, but at a minimum will have the opportunity to negotiate with other teams to see if they are willing to offer. That said, he is far from the only player subject to team control.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of team control, it is a term which specifically refers to players who have completed the obligations of their contract, but have not yet reached four accrued seasons in order to become an unrestricted free agent. There are two classes of players subject to team control, restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents.

The Wednesday piece on Haynes discussed what it means for both the team and player when it comes to those who are restricted free agents. The following is pulled directly from that post, so those who read it may feel free to skip to the bottom of the blockquote, as it has simply been copy and pasted.

For readers unfamiliar with restricted free agents, teams have to make two decisions. The first of those decisions is whether or not to extend a tender offer to the player, and the second is that if a tender offer is to be extended, which level of tender to extend. There are three different types of tender offers, each with a different salary attached, and they are:

First round tender: $5,562,000

Second round tender: $3,986,000

Original round tender: $2,433,000

Now, the way the tenders work is that if a team extends a tender offer to a player, it is an offer for a contract to play the 2022 season on a one year contract for the amount of the tender. The player to whom the tender is extended can shop around in free agency, looking for a contract from another team that would provide a better offer, and if they sign an offer sheet with another team, the old team then has a week to decide if they would like to match the offer sheet. Now, as the names of the tenders imply, if the player is given a first round tender, any team that signs that player to an offer sheet must send their first round pick to the player’s old team. A team signing a player who receives a second round tender to an offer sheet would send it’s second round pick and so on.

In Haynes’ case, a new team would be required to send along its fourth round pick, since Haynes was originally a fourth round pick when he entered the league.

Restricted free agents are those players who have exactly three accrued seasons, and need one more accrued season in order to reach unrestricted free agency. Haynes is not the only restricted free agent the Seahawks have this offseason, but he is likely the only one who might receive one of the tender offers. In addition to Haynes, the other two restricted free agents for Seattle are:

  • CB Bless Austin and
  • C Kyle Fuller

Austin, of course, filled a depth role for the Hawks secondary during the 2021 season after being waived by the New York Jets at the end of training camp. He only saw significant action in a pair of games, playing 63 snaps in the Week 11 loss to the Arizona Cardinals following Tre Brown’s patellar tendon injury and 49 snaps in the Week 15 loss to the Super Bowl bound Los Angeles Rams in Week 15 after the Seattle secondary was obliterated by COVID. Austin went unclaimed after being placed on waivers by the Jets, and it’s unlikely that his performance on the field in 2021 did anything to make him a highly sought after free agent. That makes it seem likely that he will be non-tendered and become an unrestricted free agent for the second time since September.

As for Fuller, most Seahawks fans likely won’t miss him, and it seems unlikely that he would be tendered by the team. That would allow Fuller to test free agency where many fans are likely to hope that he finds a very attractive, very lucrative offer, hopefully with a division rival.

In any case, when the team has non-tendered a player in the past, they have not shied away from bringing that player back. This is exactly what they did with Mike Davis in 2018, as well as Jordan Simmons as both a restricted free agent in 2021 and an exclusive rights free agent in 2020. The minimum salaries for the Hawks three restricted free agents, should they be non-tendered, are as follows:

  • Haynes: $965,000
  • Fuller: $1,035,000
  • Austin: $965,000

As noted above, there is an additional group of players subject to team control. These are players who have fewer than three accrued seasons, and they are exclusive rights free agents.

The situation for ERFAs is far simpler: play for the contract their old team is offering or sit at home on the coach. They have no ability to negotiate with the 31 other teams, unless their prior team opts not to extend a qualifying tender offer. For ERFAs, a qualifying tender offer is nothing more than a one year contract at league minimum salary.

The Seahawks have 11 exclusive rights free agents, and they are, along with the requisite minimum salary Seattle would need to offer in order to retain their services:

  • S Ryan Neal, $1,035,000
  • DT Bryan Mone, $965,000
  • WR Penny Hart, $895,000
  • CB John Reid, $895,000
  • LB Tanner Muse, $895,000
  • CB Gavin Heslop, $895,000
  • WR John Ursua, $825,000
  • C/G Dakoda Shepley, $825,000
  • CB Nigel Warrrior, $825,000
  • LB Jon Rhattigan, $825,000
  • DT Marcus Webb, $705,000

Should the Seahawks decide to retain all eleven of these ERFAs, it would require $4,650,000 of the $36,563,530 of the space credits the team as having. That would leave the team with $31,913,530 of cap space before deciding what to do with the three restricted free agents noted above.

So, if the team does decide to keep all of its ERFAs and to extend the original round tender to Haynes, that would leave the Hawks with somewhere around $30M of cap space heading into free agency. Before anyone asks, that number does not include the small amount necessary to cover their draft picks, nor does it include any allocation for players to go onto injured reserve or for the practice squad during the season.

What that all boils down to is that the team has roughly $25M of cap space that it can use in free agency as it looks to retain the likes of D.J. Reed, Quandre Diggs, Duane Brown, Gerald Everett, Rasheem Green, Rashaad Penny and others.