Wednesday marks a full week since the official start of the 2022 NFL league year and the opening of free agency. For the Seattle Seahawks it’s been a period of working to retain their own free agents while also looking to address the multiple holes on the roster from the departure of key starters from the 2021 squad.
As is traditionally the case, the Hawks have not been huge players in going after outside free agents, picking and choosing specific targets. The players from other teams they have added so far are cornerback Artie Burns, defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson, linebacker Uchenna Nwosu and center Austin Blythe. On the flip side, they have successfully retained multiple of their own free agents, including Rashaad Penny, Al Woods, Sidney Jones, Will Dissly and Quandre Diggs. Retaining Diggs was an important move for several reasons, in particular when combined with the departure of D.J. Reed to the New York Jets.
So, while the return of Diggs was reported before free agency even officially begin, it took until Tuesday for the details of his new three-year, $39M contract to become public. Now that they are public, they are ripe for discussion.
- Signing Bonus: $12.3M
- Base Salaries: $1.19M (2022), $13.49M (2023), $10.49M
- Per Game Roster Bonuses: $510k each season
What those numbers mean in terms of the amount Diggs will cost in terms of cap space over the next three seasons are as follows:
Now, since there are almost certain to be fans who note that they like the deal because it’s inexpensive in terms of the cap in 2022 and the Hawks could move on after 2022, that would seem unlikely. Specifically, if Seattle releases or trades Diggs after the 2022 season, they will incur a dead cap charge of $8.2M, meaning the team would have paid $14M for a single season of Diggs services. In addition, should the team decide to jettison Diggs after the 2023 campaign there would be a $4.1M dead cap charge in 2024, leaving the team having paid $28M for two years, or the same $14M per season.
In short, the structure of the contract is such that the average per year value of the deal is the lowest, and thus the most attractive to the team, if Diggs plays out the contract to its end. This is very similar to how the Will Dissly contract was structured, and is yet another example of how conservatively the Seahawks opt to manage the salary cap. (Author’s Note: Before someone explodes in the comments at this “criticism”, managing the cap conservatively is neither good nor bad. Some teams manage their cap aggressively while others are more conservative. Neither is correct, as both carry advantages and disadvantages.)
That said, the $18.1M cap hit Diggs is slated to carry in 2023 is interesting from the perspective of the other safety on the roster, Jamal Adams. 2023 is the first season of the market resetting extension Adams signed back in August that will have a cap hit greater than $10M, and the exact amount of that 2023 hit is $18.11M. That will put the cap hits for Adams and Diggs as the third and fourth largest cap hits among all safeties across the NFL in 2023, with a combined cap cost of $36.21M.