Unless the Seahawks alter Jimmy Graham’s contract, they have about $15 million in cap space. But they will need to earmark about $5 million of that for rookie bonuses, practice squad players and injury replacements next season, and they probably will need about $8 million in additional cap space for the extensions for Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner.
With free-agent needs on both lines and possibly at receiver and backup quarterback, basic math tells us the Hawks need to create some space at some point. How can they do that?
Restructure Graham: He is due a $5 million roster bonus on Thursday, and they could easily turn that into a signing bonus and spread it over the final three years of the four-year, $40 million contract he signed last summer. That would net the Hawks $3.33 million this year (while adding $1.67 million to the cap hits the next two years). The Hawks also could just tear up the deal and give Graham a new contract, which could lower his cap hits over the next two years while locking him up for five.
Cut Brandon Mebane: This move has been speculated for the last week or so. Releasing the 30-year-old defensive tackle would save $5.5 million — and leave a big hole in the middle of the defense. It’s hard to image the Hawks making this move unless they have a ready replacement.
Cut Tony McDaniel: It would save $3 million. But, as with Mebane, it would make no sense unless the Hawks had a replacement. McDaniel and Mebane anchored the No. 3 run defense in the NFL last season.
Extend Russell Okung: He is due to make $5 million and count $7.28 million. They could cut that down by $3 million with a basic four-year extension.
Restructure Richard Sherman: He has a team-high cap hit of $12.2 million, and the Hawks could drop that by as much as $7 million. It’s not their style, though, because it means pushing more proration into future years.
Postpone Wagner’s extension: The Hawks could let him play through his rookie contract, giving them $2 million more for other free agents. But that seems unlikely.
The Seahawks reportedly are interested in bringing back Kevin Williams, which would cost at least $2 million.
Signing wide receiver Andre Johnson obviously would require a couple of cap moves, freeing enough for perhaps $6 million. The Hawks reportedly are among his two favored teams, but the Colts seem likely to sign him.