Forget the Lynch drama; check out the cap space

Salary cap logoFor some reason, there has been a lot of concern about Marshawn Lynch’s retirement status: Is he really retiring? Why hasn’t he submitted his papers? Is he trying to screw the Seahawks? Will they make him a June 1 cut?

So many conspiracy theories.

Some people have wondered whether the Seahawks would designate Lynch as a post-June 1 move, thereby allowing the team an extra $2.5 million in 2016 cap space (but removing $2.5 million from the 2017 cap).

But anyone who has followed John Schneider’s moves with the Hawks understands he likes to take his lumps now, not later. He confirmed that once again Tuesday in an interview with KJR 950, saying the team will place Lynch on the reserve-retired list by June 1 so all of his $5 million in dead money (the unamortized portion of his signing bonus) hits this year’s cap.

Schneider clearly just wants to wipe that slate clean for 2017 and feels no need for an extra $2.5 million this offseason.

“It’s basically like a credit card, like you want to pay off your credit card as you go,’’ Schneider said. “So, like with us, if we place him on reserve/retired (by June 1) then we accept that cap hit this year, and we would rather do that than do it after June 1.’’

The Seahawks officially have $5 million in cap space, per, and Lynch’s retirement will bump it to a little over $11 million.

Of that amount, they will need around $2 million for rookie signing bonus proration and around $1 million for practice squad payments during the season. They also like to keep about $3 million as an injury-replacement fund during the season. That basically leaves them with $5 million for discretionary spending — e.g., adding a veteran linebacker and/or extending Doug Baldwin.

Any money they do not spend through the end of the season can be rolled over to 2017. Last season, they were so tight against the cap that they rolled over a league-low $235,000 to this year.

Next year they could end up spinning forward as much as $5 million — if they don’t add any other veterans in the next three months.

The Seahawks actually will be in very good cap shape next year. As we wrote back in February, 2017 looms as another possible “splash” year for Schneider, who figures to have around $36 million in spendable cap space (notwithstanding any extensions this year and not including any rollover money), assuming a projected $166 million cap.

Schneider probably will have to address the deals of Michael Bennett and Kam Chancellor — and possibly Jimmy Graham. But any adjustments probably wouldn’t add much because bonus money would be prorated.

Other than Baldwin, who probably will be extended this summer, Seattle has no big-money free agents in 2017 — just role players such as Patrick Lewis, Steven Hauschka, Luke Willson, Jordan Hill and Kelcie McCray, plus restricted free agents Garry Gilliam, DeShawn Shead, Marcus Burley and Brock Coyle.

Some of those guys might get better offers elsewhere, and the team surely will prefer to upgrade over a few others — if they are even on the club in 2016.

Baldwin probably will get around $7.5 million a year on a new deal. Assuming Gilliam shows promise as the left tackle, the Hawks probably will tender him at the first-round level, which would cost them upwards of $4 million. Shead might get a second-round tender, worth around $2.75 million. That’s also about what Hauschka might get on a new deal.

Those moves would leave the Hawks with something between $19 million and $24 million to spend, needing perhaps 10 players to fill out the roster. That equals as much as $19 million for any veterans — $12.5 million of that courtesy of Lynch’s retirement.


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