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Seahawks spending plenty on the defensive line

It’s just that a lot of the players taking up cap space on the defensive line - like Al Woods and Shelby Harris - aren’t on the Seahawks roster anymore.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals Michael Chow/The Republic

Sunday Field Gulls took a look at the 2023 salary cap picture for the Seattle Seahawks, laying out why the limited cap space available to the team likely means there is no help coming for the interior of the defensive line. Thus, while many fans continue to hope that a big name, or at least a big body or two will be added to the defensive line, the reality is that the team is unlikely to do so.

The response from several was, of course, to break out the sticks and start beating on the favorite dead horse, safety spending. There is no doubt that Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are pricy at safety, and there is no questioning that Adams’ availability hasn’t been great since being acquired in trade from the New York Jets. However, simply blaming the inability to afford help for the interior of the defensive line on the cost of the safeties ignores one simple fact: That the Seahawks are actually spending almost as much cap space on the defensive line as they are on safeties.

To jump right to the numbers, here are the 2023 cap hits for the six defensive linemen the Hawks currently have on the 53 man roster according to

Cap hits for Seahawks defensive linemen on the 53 man roster in 2023

Player Cap Hit
Player Cap Hit
Dre'Mont Jones $10,056,666
Jarran Reed $3,030,000
Mario Edwards $1,092,500
Cam Young $931,877
Myles Adams $870,000
Mike Morris $830,519
Total $16,811,562

That $16.8M total is obviously more than nothing, but it is smaller than the cap hit for Jamal Adams alone in 2023. So, looking at the safeties on the roster, here is what the cap hits look like for the position group.

Cap hits for Seahawks safeties in 2023

Player Cap Hit
Player Cap Hit
Jamal Adams $18,110,000
Quandre Diggs $11,937,500
Julian Love $3,910,000
Coby Bryant $1,071,952
Jerrick Reed $793,700
Jonathan Sutherland $125,000

At the bottom of the list of cap hits for safeties is Jonathan Sutherland. Sutherland was released off injured reserve with an injury settlement after roster cuts, and this brings the discussion to a key point when it comes to spending on the defensive line. That point is that Seattle has a significant amount of 2023 cap space tied up in players who may not contribute on the field this season, or who will most definitely not contribute since they are on the roster of another team.

Getting right to those numbers, the cap hits for defensive linemen that are on injured reserve, the physically unable to perform list or who are with another team are given below.

Cap hits for defensive linemen on IR, PUP or playing for another team

Player Cap Hit
Player Cap Hit
Carlos Dunlap $4,200,000
Bryan Mone $3,675,000
Shelby Harris $3,270,000
Quinton Jefferson $2,000,000
Al Woods $1,750,000
Austin Faoliu $450,000
LaTrell Bumphus $450,000
Total $15,795,000

And therein lies the problem with blaming the inability to afford more bodies on the defensive line on exorbitant spending at the safety spot. The reality is that the Seahawks are spending almost as much on defensive linemen who for the most part will not play a single snap for the team this season as they are on the defensive linemen who are actually on the active roster. Of the seven players on this list, only Bryan Mone is likely to see the field for Seattle in 2023, and even he might not return until late in the season. It’s certain that he will not return until at least the fifth game of the year, but given Pete Carroll’s comments on the severity of Mone’s injury and the difficulty of the surgery, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is not a significant contributor on the field this season.

So, the reality of the situation is that Seattle is spending almost as much cap space on defensive linemen who can’t play for the team right now ($15.795M) as they are on the defensive linemen on the active roster ($16.81M), while spending almost as much on the defensive line as a whole ($32.61M) as they are on safeties ($35.95M). The difference between how much the Seahawks are spending on safeties and defensive linemen, $3.34M, is hardly enough that would enable adding a player who can make a significant impact on the field.

In short, past decisions at the defensive line are just as much the reason Seattle does not have more cap space to spend on the position this season as how much the team is spending at safety, in spite of so many wanting to pin the blame solely on Jamal Adams. Yes, Adams is expensive for a player who isn’t currently able to contribute, but the Seahawks will probably get more out of the $18.11M they’re spending on his 2023 cap hit than the $15.795M they’re spending on defensive linemen who aren’t actually on the roster.