Good news on the cap, but Hawks still have to make more room

Based on recent reports, the NFL salary cap is expected to be between $180 million and $185 million in 2021. The actual number is not expected to be set until just before the league year begins March 17, but the ceiling apparently will be at least $5 million more than the floor the NFL and NFLPA had set last year.

The Seahawks and the rest of the NFL would happily take an extra $5 million, if Tom Pelissero’s report is more accurate than Adam Schefter’s tweet. (Here’s an easy explanation of how the league arrives at the salary cap.)

Assuming the number is Schefter’s reported $180 million, the Seahawks still would need to create room just to tender Poona Ford (about $3.4 million on the second-round offer) and a few ERFAs, let alone sign needed starters at center, running back, linebacker and cornerback.

Seattle would need to make two money-saving moves just to “break even” with the roster. Here are the top cap-room moves they can make:

$12M – Wilson restructure

$9M – Reed trade

$8M – Dunlap extension

$7M – Lockett extension

$6M – Wagner restructure

$4M – Adams extension

$4M – Diggs trade

$2.5M – Diggs extension

Some think the team will need to convert Russell Wilson’s salary into a prorated bonus — a move that could add about $12 million in space. The club likely would do that only if its other options were not tenable – because it would mean beefing up Wilson’s future cap hits by $6 million each.

Among extensions, Carlos Dunlap and Tyler Lockett would offer the biggest savings, but the Hawks would have to be comfortable probably paying them each $14 million to $15 million in 2022 and 2023. (We’re in favor of both being extended.) Cutting Dunlap would save $14 million, but it would be stupid. Trading Lockett would net about $12 million, but that also would be dumb.

Trading Jarran Reed might not be, however. Seattle could save around $9 million by moving Reed, who should have pretty good value after 6.5 sacks in 2020 (second on the team to Jamal Adams’ 9.5).

It’s a thin class of D-tackles in free agency – led by Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Ndamukong Suh and Tyrone Crawford. Reed could tempt a team to give up a third-rounder and something else. Anything less and Seattle should just keep him for 2021, knowing he will play hard for the big deal he wants in 2022. That’s why the Hawks won’t extend him: They don’t want to pay him $18 million or something crazy.

Speaking of crazy $18 million players, Bobby Wagner could restructure to give $6 million in space. A trade would bring back $9.65 million, but there is no way the Hawks are going to move their still-productive All-Pro defensive leader – even if he is overpaid and a bunch of fans want the franchise to move on from him.

An extension for Adams should be a priority for John Schneider, but it could be problematic if Adams and his agent try to get pass rusher money ($18 million plus) instead of taking top safety money ($16 million). If they get a deal at “their price,” the Hawks should be able to claim $3 million or $4 million in 2021 space. (For those who don’t want to pay Adams and think he should be traded, that very unlikely move would net his full salary, $9.86 million.)

The last option for space would be Quandre Diggs, who could be traded for $4 million in space or extended for around $2.5 million in space (on a deal averaging perhaps $10 million). Like Reed, a trade would make sense only if the Hawks were not planning to pay him in 2022 and were able to get a third and something else from a team.

As you can see, the Seahawks have a number of ways to create cap space. We expect them to try to get some extensions and/or trades done first, before potentially restructuring Wilson’s deal. But they will find the money they need to keep Ford and perhaps K.J. Wright and secure a center, running back and corner. We previously suggested a few deals for Wright and other potential returnees.

Some think the Seahawks would consider using the franchise tag on Chris Carson, but the Hawks have no reason to pay him $8 million. That’s the top value for the best free-agent running backs these days, and Carson will be hard-pressed to find anyone this year willing to pay him that. He will be lucky to get $6 million – and it might be as low as $4 million. Pete Carroll already has said the Seahawks will let Carson test free agency – a hint that they are not going to offer him much to stay.

Seattle could just bring back Carlos Hyde for a couple million or perhaps reach into their recent past to sign Mike Davis, who had a nice stint with Carolina last season (642 rushing yards, 59 catches, eight TDs).

Whatever the Seahawks plan to do, it all has to start with creating some cap space. And they have plenty of options for doing that.


One thought on “Good news on the cap, but Hawks still have to make more room”

  1. I don’t think they will trade Diggs or restructure Wilsons contract. So without those two, (I completele agree with all the other moves), they should be able to create around 35 mil. If SC is 180mil they are currently under the cap for around 5mil with 47 players under contract. If we add 4 more players on minimum contracts that’s around 2.5mil. If we already count PS, IR and draft class (lets say 8mil all together) seahawks are over the cap for 5.5mil.

    So 35mil minus 5,5mil is around 30mil to work with this offseason.
    Poona is the only player for who we are sure they will sign and his cap hit will be 3mil.

    So 27mil to add starting LG, C, SAM (although i think they will play more than 75% snaps with Blair as big nickel), CB and maybe RB. And need to add depth to RB, DT, WR and TE.

    Imo they should spent 6-10mil in first year of contract on big name for one of iOL position (C or LG). On the other one should use 2nd round pick.

    I think they will bring back Dunbar on 2,3mil one year contract.

    So 27 – 8 (iOL) -3 (Dunbar)=16mil

    More than enough to fill other spots.

    No re-signing KJ, Shaquill or Carson if they ask me.

    And I think that team should be much better than this years roster.

    Expect huuge improvement from Brooks, hope for big role from Taylor and Blair. Adams should be much much better after one year in system, healthy. Dunbar if healthy will be on Griffin level. Reed and KJ are big minus for D, but think Poona could fill that Reeds role (more base 3t) and Blair should play a lot of snaps as 5th DB.

    On offense, new scheme, improvement on LG and C, even better DK, hoper for big role from uncle Will and Parkinson. And hope that Penny will finaly show his talent in waldrons wide zone scheme.

    I really think this team has bright future (unlike most of seahawks funs).

    I am from Serbia so appologise for some grammar mistakes. (I am morski_jastreb from twitter)

    In my language morski – sea (more like from sea)
    jastreb – hawk

    Go Hawks!


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