Projected market for Hawks’ free agents

Salary cap logoRussell Wilson could be guaranteed $100 million and Frank Clark $50 million in new deals, according to contract expert Joel Corry, who also laid out the possible markets for several other Seahawks in a conversation with John Clayton on 710 ESPN.

Per Corry, Wilson figures to hit $35 million APY (as we projected) if he signs an extension this year, Clark will aim for $20 million (if not franchised at around $17 million), K.J. Wright could get more than $7 million, and D.J. Fluker, J.R. Sweezy and Justin Coleman all could merit around $5 million on the open market.

All of those amounts, except Wilson’s, would be more than the Seahawks are expected to be willing to pay. But the markets for Wright, the guards and Coleman might not hit those figures either, Corry acknowledged.

Market for Hawk UFAsAs eager as Clark is to get his deal done, his agent figures to be patient as the pass-rush market is established, Corry said — referencing other top rushers such as Dee Ford, DeMarcus Lawrence and Jadeveon Clowney.

“These guys are all going to be like guys at a junior high dance, not wanting to be the first one on the dance floor,” Corry said.

Corry pointed to New England’s Trey Flowers — not expected to be franchised — as the possible market setter for the pass rushers, which is why Clark’s agent should have “no sense of urgency.”

The Seahawks seem very unlikely to be interested in paying Clark $20 million a year; they have never even paid a pass rusher $10 million. The only way they might get Clark’s agent to agree to a deal for under $20 million is to guarantee Year 2 immediately and vest Year 3 after Year 1, Corry said. That would mark a change in Seattle contract philosophy about guarantees, he said, but might get Clark to accept $17 million or $18 million a year.

It’s possible that John Schneider won’t want to pay Clark over $15 million — in which case the GM will have to look at other options.

As for Wright, Seattle is expected to be out if he gets an offer worth $7 million or more, Corry said. That jibes with most other opinions. In fact, we think the ceiling might be a lot lower than that — more like $4 million, including game-day incentives. Seattle likely will let Wright find his market and hope he gives the club a chance to match.

Meanwhile, the market for second-tier guards was just set by former Seahawk Mark Glowinski, who re-signed with the Colts for $5.4 million a year. Considering the Seahawks got Fluker and Sweezy for about $2 million each in 2018, it’s hard to see their value more than doubling — especially given their injury concerns. Corry also thinks they might give Seattle “informal matching rights” to any offers they might get on the open market. The Seahawks might go $3 million, which should be enough to retain at least one of them — something Seattle needs to do.

The going rate for slot corners is $5 million to $6 million. But did Coleman have a good enough season to command that? The Hawks seem likely to cap out at $3 million (like his RFA tender in 2018), so it’s possible Coleman heads elsewhere if his market is as good as Corry projects.

Corry didn’t address Earl Thomas‘ situation, but his market should be around $10 million. He wanted $14 million last year, but safeties simply are not paid that much anymore, and Thomas’ injury history drops his value. Kansas City is expected to cut $13 million safety Eric Berry and court Thomas, whom the Chiefs reportedly were ready to acquire before he was injured last September.

So, which of their top free agents will the Seahawks retain? The guess here is Clark will be franchised, at least one of the guards will return at Seattle’s price and Coleman might be back if he doesn’t get any $5 million offers.

OTHER CONTRACT NOTES

Corry and Clayton also debunked the myth (as we have) that teams shouldn’t pay franchise quarterbacks such as Wilson. Corry pointed out that the salary cap will continue to rise to accommodate QB salaries, especially with richer TV deals coming by 2022. “So, if you get Russell done sooner rather than later, over time it’s going to be cheaper,” Corry said, “particularly as the cap increases.”

Kam Chancellor already was guaranteed $5.2 million of his $10 million salary due to his career-ending injury, but on Friday it becomes fully guaranteed. Expect the Seahawks to release him at some point this offseason, saving themselves $2.8 million against the salary cap (and $14.5 million in 2020).

Other guarantees due Friday: $1.75 million of Duane Brown‘s $8 million salary, $2.25 million of Justin Britt‘s $4.5 million, all of Tyler Lockett‘s $3.9 million and $1 million of Bradley McDougald‘s $2.9 million.

There has been a lot of chatter about trading Britt, but who would replace him? Is Joey Hunt good enough? Could Ethan Pocic take his spot? Britt’s 2020 salary spikes to $8.25 million, so he seems likely to be gone next year. But he seems safe for 2019 unless a viable replacement is found.

It will be interesting to see what the Hawks do with their 2018 signings — Barkevious Mingo, Ed Dickson and Jaron Brown. If Doug Baldwin is coming back, the little-used Brown seems likely to be let go, which would return $2.75 million under the cap. Mingo would save Seattle $3.7 million, but the team can’t really afford to chop its top special-teams player and starting strongside linebacker, can it? Dickson would net $2.83 million, but the Hawks need the veteran tight end because Will Dissly is coming back from a torn patella tendon.

Quinton Jefferson and George Fant are the only RFAs worth considering for tenders. Field Gulls projects that Seattle will tender both at the original round, which would return a fifth for Jefferson and nothing for the former UDFA Fant if they got offers the Hawks did not match. Those tenders would cost about $2 million, but it seems unlikely the Hawks will want to do that for guys who are easily replaceable. They also have Jamarco Jones coming back from injury and might hope he emerges as an option to replace Germain Ifedi next year. So we expect minimum offers to Jefferson and Fant.

In case you didn’t know, Malik McDowell is still on the roster. He spent the first two years of his contract on NFI, meaning the Hawks didn’t have to pay him and had the right to collect his prorated bonus of $800,000 a year. It’s not known whether they did that. Before the Hawks waived McDowell last year and he reverted to NFI, Schneider had said he was waiting for “guidance” — presumably from the league regarding the economics of the move. This might turn into a procedural thing for the next two years — Seattle waiving McDowell, who reverts to NFI so the Hawks can save salary, recoup bonus money and get cap credit.

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