Wilson & Wagner are signed; who else can Hawks keep?

Wilson signing contractWith Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner signed, the Seahawks can check off their two biggest 2016 free agents.

But what does it mean for the others?

The official numbers for Wagner’s deal are in, and the Hawks are looking at about $14 million in space under a projected $150 million salary cap next year.

With Wilson and Wagner signed and Tony McDaniel released, their key UFAs in 2016 — barring any other extensions — will be Russell Okung, J.R. Sweezy, Bruce Irvin, Brandon Mebane, Ahtyba Rubin, Jermaine Kearse and Jon Ryan. They can’t keep all of those guys for $14 million.

“It is so challenging to do this,” Pete Carroll said, “and particularly as it (the salary cap) changes and you don’t know and you have to predict. … This is a big year now (for Seattle free agents); we don’t know what’s going to happen with the cap. We’ll wait and see.”

Ryan won’t cost more than $2 million per year, and Sweezy should be easy at $4 million per year. Mebane could be re-signed to perhaps a two-year extension — they have to keep him or Rubin or else find another veteran run-stopping D-tackle (can’t depend on the draft).

After those fairly cheap moves, the Hawks would find it tough to keep Okung and Irvin, who both figure to want at least $8 million a year, and they would have to make more room just to re-sign some of their top backups.

They could create some cap space by redoing Jimmy Graham’s deal. He is due $19 million in 2016 ($9 million) and 2017 ($10 million), and they could convert salary to signing bonus while extending him for 2-3 years beyond that.

The Seahawks also will have to see what Marshawn Lynch does. If he retires, the Hawks would recoup $6.5 million — but have a huge hole in their backfield.

If Cary Williams doesn’t work out and the Hawks are confident in their younger corners, they could release the veteran and regain $3.83 million. They also could drop Steven Hauschka for a cheaper kicker and net $2.7 million.

They also could restructure Richard Sherman’s deal or Earl Thomas’ contract, although John Schneider and Matt Thomas surely set those deals up knowing they were going to have to fit other deals under them.

“It’s really been a master plan with a long vision,” Carroll said. “John got it orchestrated and started a long time ago. Really went all the way back to Marshawn (in 2012); that was really the first move we had to make to start the thing in motion. And we just kept pecking away at guys.

“You can see there’s some difficulty in it. Some guys got their deals a few years ago and they’re looking at it now and it doesn’t seem the same to them,” Carroll said, referencing the dissatisfaction of Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett — guys who probably will have to be dealt with next offseason as well.

The Hawks could very well give those players new extensions and perhaps afford Okung (or Irvin). The Hawks have replacements for Irvin already, but they don’t have a sure-thing heir to Okung yet. This season will determine the Hawks’ opinions on many of their 2016 free agents.

Whatever happens next offseason, the Hawks now have their quarterback and eight top defenders all signed through at least 2017 — which will give them a great chance to remain strong Super Bowl contenders for at least the next three seasons.

“We have said that we want to keep this core of players together,” said Carroll, who is signed through just 2016. “We’ve recognized the value and the importance that they have to us for some time. So, as the stages have offered the opportunities for these guys to be signed, we’ve been able to get it done. With that come difficult decisions, really hard decisions. It’s just the nature of the business.”

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