It’s been just over a week since the Seattle Seahawks knocked off the Denver Broncos in a season opening win on Monday Night Football that ruined the Denver debut of both Nate Hackett and Russell Wilson. Unfortunately for the Hawks, while the upset of the Broncos gave them a win that many fans and observers did not expect the team to grab, in gaining that win the team lost strong safety Jamal Adams for the year with a quad injury.
When exactly Adams is set to have surgery is unknown, but the injury which he suffered has such a long recovery time that it will not matter in terms of returning to the field because that won’t happen until 2023. This new injury, on top of the shoulder and finger issues that forced Adams to miss eight games in his first two seasons with the team has some fans calling for Seahawks front office to cut its losses and move on.
Whether or not a leadership group that spent two firsts and a third on Adams and then made him the highest paid safety in the league would move on after getting just 15 snaps of on field performance from Adams on the contract extension is an entirely different discussion. However, what can be discussed is what the salary cap ramifications of moving on after the 2022 season would be.
To best illustrate this discussion, the contract structure for Adams is taken from OverTheCap.com, since many fans are familiar with such a table. So, the first is his contract, with the Dead Money & Cap Savings selector set to a pre-June 1 release (or trade).
So, as this table shows, there is $21.33M of dead money that the Seahawks would recognize against the 2023 cap if they released Adams this offseason. Many have been quick to point out that that number drops to $7.11M if he is released with a post-June 1 designation, as is seen when the Dead Money & Cap Savings selector is set to a post-June 1 release (or trade).
It’s certainly true that releasing Adams with a post-June 1 designation would decrease his 2023 dead money to $7.11M, but that’s only because the remaining $14.22M is pushed into 2024. The full amount of the $21.33M of dead money must be recognized against the cap, so it’s simply a matter of the timing, which is all a post-June 1 designation does. In short, here’s how that $21.33M of dead money would be recognized if Adams were released on or before June 1, or with a post-June 1 designation:
- on or before June 1: 2023 dead money of $21.33M
- post-June 1 designation: 2023 dead money of $7.11M, 2024 dead money of $14.22M
It’s the same amount of cap space that will be recognized either way, it’s just a matter of whether the front office would want to shuffle the chairs on the deck of the Titanic as it goes down or not.
In any case, the above discussion is not a complete evaluation of the situation for a couple of reasons. Specifically, the guarantees that were included in the contract. The tables above laying out the contract certainly show that there is no more Guaranteed Salary after the 2022 season, but that’s only because there is not any guaranteed salary, yet.
Turning to the specifics of the contract as reported by ProFootballTalk in the wake of the deal being signed, one key aspect of the contract is as follows:
5. 2023 base salary: $11 million, $2.56 million of which is guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the waiver period after Super Bowl LVII.
This is very similar to the Kam Chancellor situation in that the $2.56M injury guarantee Adams has for the 2023 season will vest and become fully guaranteed on the Friday after the Super Bowl in February. So, Adams has $2.56M in injury guarantees that will vest into being fully guaranteed on Friday, February 17, meaning the only way that $2.56M does not become fully guaranteed is if Adams passes a physical prior to it vesting. Given that as of Friday he had yet to have surgery and the recovery timeline for his injury is not short, whether or not Adams can pass a physical prior to February 17 is certainly a big question mark. Once that guarantee vests, the Seahawks would only be able to free up $8.44M of his $11M 2023 base salary should they make a move.
That means things are likely to progress down one of two paths. Either Adams will recover to a point where he is able to pass a physical and participate in the offseason program that begins next April, or the Hawks will move on, releasing him with a failed physical designation. The failed physical designation would not impact the $2.56M of guaranteed salary for Adams in 2023, however, under Article 45 of the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, if he did not sign with another team (for 2023 or 2024), it would qualify him to collect $1.025M of Extended Injury Protection Benefit in 2024. It seems unlikely, but if that were to happen, $590k of that $1.025M would count against the salary cap for the Seahawks.
So, putting all the pieces together, releasing Adams after the 2022 season could potentially lead to all of the following:
- $21.33M of dead money recognized in 2023, or potentially spread over 2023 and 2024
- $2.56M of fully guaranteed salary in 2023 and
- $1.025M (with $590k going against the cap) potentially in 2024 as Article 45 Extended Injury Protection
Thus, the additional cap costs are certainly not large relative to the signing bonus money that would have to be recognized, but since they could have to be recognized, it’s worth at least discussing.
At the end of the day, however, if Adams is able to recover and get healthy in the coming months it costs the team just $8.44M on a salary cap that is expected to be in the $226M range in 2023 to see what he can do. That means that if he’s healthy and there are not significant changes to the leadership of the Seahawks, there’s a decent chance he’s back on the field for Seattle next year. Even if some fans don’t want to hear that.