Cap-wary Hawks using option bonuses for 2022

The Seahawks reportedly used a cap mechanism for Jamal Adams that they used for Tyler Lockett earlier this year and we were going to suggest they use for Duane Brown: The option bonus.

With so much uncertainty over the 2022 cap and the Seahawks needing to plot for two or three more big extensions, the option bonus is the way to go.

Lockett got a $13 million option bonus, and Adams reportedly has a $12.44 million option bonus that pairs with a $2 million salary in 2022. That will keep his cap number at $9.11 million (instead of something over $16 million).  

The uncertainty over the salary cap has been a big concern for Seattle and the rest of the NFL. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a ceiling of $208.2 million for 2022, but it could be less than that; the cap dropped by $15.7 million this year, down to $182.5 million, and some experts think it will take a couple of years (and the new TV deals in 2023) to get back on course.

John Schneider and Matt Thomas have to plan for another blockbuster deal next year: DK Metcalf could get $20 million a year. And Quandre Diggs may be in their plans, too (we’re thinking $10 million to $12 million).

The Hawks also have to pay a middle-class right tackle (Brandon Shell or Cedric Ogbuehi) and figure out their 2022 center and corners after they see what guys do in 2021. So, while they have some very set spots for 2022 (almost all of their skill players, special-teamers and front seven), they also have some moving parts.

The Seahawks reportedly don’t want to talk about a new deal with Brown until after the season. The easy explanation: They want to see if he can hold up through another season, at age 36. But it might just be simple caponomics, too.

It makes sense to want to keep cap flexibility, but they still could and should pay Brown without incurring a big 2022 cap number. First, give him a $5 million raise this year in the form of a bonus. Spread over four years, that would take just $1.25 million off each year’s cap space. Then set up a $15 million option bonus in 2022; just $5 million would count each year on a three-year extension. With a vet minimum salary of $1.12 million, Brown’s 2022 cap hit could be as low as $7.37 million ($1.12 million salary plus $6.25 million in bonus proration).

That said, it does not sound like the Seahawks are prioritizing their top-notch but aging left tackle. As Schneider said on radio last weekend, “There’s nothing new to report on there. We have 21 guys that are in the last year of their contracts.”

Some other notes on Adams’ deal, via the PFT-reported breakdown:

It averages $16 million over five years, which is right where the Seahawks would have preferred the new money land. Most teams look at the whole deal when evaluating it, as opposed to the “new money” aspect that players and their agents focus on. Thus, what looks like a $17.5 million average over four years to Adams is a $16 million average over five years to Seattle.

As they often do, the Seahawks dropped Adams’ salary in exchange for giving him a huge signing bonus ($20 million), so his 2021 cap hit went from $9.86 million to $5 million. That gives Seattle around $13 million in cap space now – and they likely will roll much of that over to 2022 (unless they end up trading for a cornerback).

Adams’ total guaranteed money is $38 million, which is No. 2 to Landon Collins’ outlandish $44.5 million. His full guarantees at signing are $5.25 million per year, which are just behind the $5.5 million of Budda Baker and Eddie Jackson but more than Collins’ $5.17 million. Tyrann matheu and Justin Simmons are both over $8 million. But Adams trumped Simmons by 14.8% for highest average salary and also got $3 million more in total guarantees. It’s how Seattle always does contracts for elite-paid players: Give them the average and total guarantees in return for keeping initial full guarantees lower.


3 thoughts on “Cap-wary Hawks using option bonuses for 2022”

  1. Critics can carp about the price paid to obtain and retain Adams. (I’m with you that the cost was less than meets the eye.) The fact remains, though, that Adams is the first post-LOB player good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as Chancellor, Sherman, and Thomas. Teamed with Diggs, Wagner, and Ford, Adams gives SEA an elite middle-of-the field defense.

    BTW, hats off to Schneider for building the D-line around depth instead of star power. With the extra regular season and wild card game, an SB team should plan on playing 21 games, especially if their 17th regular season game is on the road. That’s going to put a premium on depth, especially in the trenches. Nice to see Schneider responding strategically, something we don’t always see from NFL front offices.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, good stuff, Paul. I agree Adams is a great player and leader. They MUST keep him healthy though, which means not rushing him as much.

    That segues to your comment on the DL. I think they have really good pass-rush waves: Dunlap & Hyder, Mayowa & Green, Robinson & Taylor. And they definitely have star power in Dunlap; they just didn’t have to overpay for it (which was your point, I believe).

    Solve the corners and this defense could be great …

    Liked by 1 person

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