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Seahawks won’t move on from Bryan Mone for cap reasons

San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

As the calendar ticks forward a day at a time, the 2023 NFL league year slowly approaches, and with it the frenzy of the first wave of free agency. For the Seattle Seahawks this means year two of the rebuild that the team refuses to call a rebuild, but which is likely to see significant turnover at several position groups. With that in mind, Field Gulls continues its look at the players on the roster that fans have noted could become cap casualties during the offseason.

The series kicked off Monday with a review of why Pro Bowl free safety Quandre Diggs won’t be released for salary cap purposes this offseason, and staying on the defensive side of things it makes sense to look at the case of defensive tackle Bryan Mone.

The team surprised many fans when it signed Bryan Mone to a contract extension in June 2022. The contract locked Mone in to the team through 2024, while avoiding the future potential pitfalls surrounding figuring out whether to use a right of first refusal tender or a second round tender on the former undrafted free agent out of Michigan. In short, it gave Mone some extra money in 2022 in exchange for likely saving the team cash and cap space in 2023 and 2024. A three-year, $12M deal with inexpensive outs each year of the contract, the only true risk factor for the contract from a financial standpoint would be if Mone suffered a serious injury.

Which, unfortunately, is exactly what happened late in the 2022 season. Then, to make matters worse, reports indicated that the injury was more significant than initially feared, making the operation and subsequent recovery more intense that a simple ACL tear. Thus, with Mone’s availability for 2023 in question, many fans have thrown his name into the hat as a player the team could waive in an effort to save precious cap space.

Before digging into the cap impact of moving on from Mone, here is a look at the final two years of his contract and what he would be owed if he stays in Seattle.

Breakdown of final two years left on Bryan Mone’s contract

Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Amortization June 1 Roster Bonus Per Game Roster Bonus Cap Hit
Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Amortization June 1 Roster Bonus Per Game Roster Bonus Cap Hit
2023 $2,285,000 $500,000 $500,000 $390,000 $3,675,000
2024 $4,890,000 $500,000 $500,000 $510,000 $6,400,000

Now, the issue regarding releasing Mone is, of course, his knee and the Injury Protection benefit provided players under Section 3(a) of Article 45 of the 2020 NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, which reads (bolding added to highlight relevant portions) :

Except as otherwise required by operation of Section 1 above, a player qualifying under Section 2 above will receive an amount equal to 100% of his Paragraph 5 Salary for the season following the season of injury. Notwithstanding the immediately preceding sentence, under no circumstances shall the above-described amount (i.e., 100% of the player’s Paragraph 5 Salary) exceed the following maximum payments: $2,000,000, in the 2021-22 League Year; $2,050,000, in the 2023-24 League Years; $2,100,000, in the 2025-26 League Years; $2,180,000, in the 2027-28 League Years; and $2,260,000, in the 2029-2030 League Years.

Now, as Mone’s 2023 Paragraph 5 Salary (base salary) is $2,285,000, he would cap out at $2,050,000 for an injury protection payment. In addition, not all of the $2,050,000 would hit the salary cap, as under the CBA only the first $1,230,000 counts against the cap.

Putting everything together, if the Seahawks were to decide not to keep Mone on the roster, releasing him prior to June 1, and assuming he won’t be able to pass a physical prior to that date given the reports about his operation, would result in the following cap charges for the Seahawks in 2023:

  • Injury Protection Charge: $1,230,000, Amortization of remaining signing bonus: $1,000,000

Those two items combine for a cap charge of $2,230,000, meaning Seattle could save $1,445,000 of cap space in 2023. However, doing this would open the team up to the potential for an additional cap charge of $590,000 for a potential Extended Injury Protection payment in 2024 if Mone is unable to pass a physical prior to the middle of the offseason next year.

Now, since someone will jump into the comments and ask about the impact of a post-June 1 release, the important factor to consider in that situation would be the June 1 roster bonus he is due. Since he would be considered on the roster until June 2 for cap purposes, releasing him with a post-June 1 designation means the $500,000 June 1 roster bonus would be payable, while keeping $500,000 of signing bonus amortization on the 2024 salary cap. In short, there would be exactly zero advantage in 2023 to doing a post-June 1 release, while it would also incur a $500,000 cap charge next year.

Long story short, the Seahawks could save $1,445,000 of 2023 cap space by releasing Mone this offseason. It’s certainly not nothing, but it’s a small enough amount that the team would likely look elsewhere first when looking to save cap space. In addition, once release another player would need to fill Mone’s roster spot, and even filling the spot with a minimum salary rookie earning $750,000 would yield a net cap savings of a whopping $695,000. Realistically the team could likely save more cap space by working with Mone to reduce his base salary in exchange for providing additional guarantees, but what his future with the team looks like most likely depends most heavily on how well his knee recovers.