John Schneider is getting ready to make a couple of big moves next week.
That’s the only explanation for him wanting to cut Richard Sherman’s $11 million salary.
The question: Whom is he targeting?
One NFC personnel exec thinks he plans to spend on offense. By lopping high-priced defensive players, “they could allocate money to the offense, get Russell (Wilson) some help and some protection,” the pro personnel director told SI.com.
It’s also quite possible that Schneider is trying to clear space for Sheldon Richardson — though it seems doubtful the 3-technique tackle would sign anything before Monday, when he can solicit offers from other teams.
Dumping Sherman would make sense only if Schneider were holding out hope for re-signing Richardson and also planned to go after a guard such as Josh Sitton or Justin Pugh (who played for Mike Solari in New York) and perhaps a not-so-cheap tight end.
With the impending trade of Michael Bennett, the Seahawks are going to have $15 million in space. The expected releases of Cliff Avril and Jeremy Lane would bump that to $27 million.
That would be enough to sign Sitton/Pugh at $8 million APY, Bradley McDougald at $5 million, plus top RFAs Dion Jordan and Justin Coleman, Luke Willson ($1.5 million), DeShawn Shead ($1.5 million), Mike and Austin Davis (minimum deals) and the top ERFAs.
An extension for Earl Thomas could give Schneider enough (e.g., $5 million) to replace Jimmy Graham and add another defensive lineman and a couple of cheap linebackers.
All of the above can be done without dropping Sherman, which means Schneider either thinks he can re-sign Richardson (in addition to adding a guard) or has another big move in mind.
The Seahawks made a mistake in asking Sherman to take a pay cut. They should have quietly shopped him in trade at the Combine. Now everyone knows they are going to cut him, so the best offer they might get is a sixth-rounder (if they get a mild bidding war). But Sherman prefers not to be traded, and Schneider is poised to accommodate him out of respect for his contributions. Basically, the Seahawks will surrender a valuable asset for nothing. That’s no way to win.
The Seahawks appear to be waiting to hear from Avril before they decide his fate. He told NFL Network he will consult with his surgeon this week to see where he is in his recovery from neck surgery. He wants to play, unless the doctor tells him it would be unsafe. And he wants to play for the Seahawks. He is under contract for one more season, at $7.5 million. It’s possible, though unlikely, that the Hawks are thinking of keeping Avril — which would further explain the need to cut ties with Sherman.
The Seahawks reportedly are still open to a big deal for Thomas but prefer to re-sign him. This is where we have been on this all offseason, but NFL Network likes to remind us.
The $2.2 million in savings from trading Bennett basically will cover his replacement, Dion Jordan, who should be tendered for $1.9 million.
It was a big day for the Bennett brothers: Martellus was cut by New England. The Seahawks will be in the market for a tight end and figure to comb through street free agents rather than UFAs to avoid getting dinged in the comp formula. Would they swap one Bennett for another?
The Seahawks are talking to LB Brian Cushing, a nine-year vet who was recently cut by Houston. Cushing, who has had all kinds of injury and suspension problems, played under Pete Carroll at USC. The 31-year-old would be a cheap one-year addition, if both parties wanted a deal. (And, no, he is not replacing K.J. Wright.)
Russell Wilson is done playing baseball this offseason, so now he is going to coach some NFL draft prospects. Taking Jon Gruden’s place, he will mentor QB Baker Mayfield, RB Saquon Barkley, QB Mason Rudolph and QB J.T. Barrett in ESPN’s new QB2QB series.