Hawks placate Diggs, Brown until 2022 becomes clearer

The Seahawks didn’t want to extend Duane Brown or Quandre Diggs before this season, but they did what they could by guaranteeing their 2021 salaries with signing bonuses. Now the team waits.

The Hawks also gave the players voidable years in 2022, which allow both to get injury protection for next year while also slicing the 2021 cap hits. Diggs already had reportedly taken out an insurance policy.

Brown, due $11 million in compensation, got a $7 million signing bonus and $4 million salary, which will be guaranteed after Week 1. Diggs, due $6 million, will get $5 million of it now.  

The moves were done to placate the players a bit, but the side effect was opening up $6 million more in cap space this year. So, the Hawks have around $12 million in room.

The team now has $10.6 million in dead money from six voiding contracts in 2022: Brown, Diggs, Gerald Everett, Ethan Pocic, Cedric Ogbuehi, Ahkello Witherspoon (traded). It’s the price of putting together a strong roster in a cap-tight environment.

Of course, the team can roll over any unused space to help offset those void amounts.

The Hawks didn’t want to extend Brown and Diggs at least partly because they do not know where the salary cap will be in 2022. It is $182.5 million this year and won’t be higher than $208.2 million (the ceiling set by the NFL and NFLPA) in 2022; experts expect it to be in the 190s.

The Hawks this year extended or signed a number of players into 2022 (or beyond): Jamal Adams, Tyler Lockett, Gabe Jackson (after trade), Carlos Dunlap, Poona Ford, Michael Dickson, Chris Carson, Benson Mayowa, Kerry Hyder.

The top 2022 cap hits from those deals are Lockett ($10 million), Ford ($9.7 million), Adams ($9.1 million), Jackson ($9 million), Dunlap ($6.5 million) and Carson ($6.4 million).

Seattle used option bonuses on Lockett and Adams to keep their cap hits manageable, but the Hawks obviously did not want to make any more large commitments for 2022 yet – Brown and Diggs both will command over $10 million annually.

So, they will see how 2021 goes and where the 2022 cap lands before deciding whether to try to pay their Pro Bowl left tackle and free safety.

As Brown said, “What we came to wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it’s OK. It’s a business. We came to a compromise. I’m happy about it. They’re happy about it. Now I’m ready to get to work.”

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