Upon completion of a draft that added 10 players to Seattle’s cap-strapped roster, John Schneider was asked whether he needed to make any contract-related moves to sign the rookies.
Schneider’s answer: “We’re OK right now.”
“Right now” is the operative phrase, as the Seahawks definitely will need to create about $4 million in space to sign the rookies before training camp. By the time the season starts, they also will need about $6 million for practice squad and injury moves. And they probably are budgeting about $2.5 million for Al Woods or another veteran D-lineman – which they need very much.
All told, the Hawks need about $12.5 million in added cap space.
So where do they get it?
It has to come from high salaries, so the candidates are Quandre Diggs ($13.49 million), Jamal Adams ($11 million), Tyler Lockett ($9.7 million), Uchenna Nwosu ($7.5 million) and Noah Fant ($6.85 million).
Plenty of fans have been lobbying for the Hawks to cut Adams – especially with Julian Love signed to a two-year deal. A release of Adams after June 1 would net $8.4 million in space.
But Pete Carroll wants to give Adams a chance to come back from the quadriceps injury that he suffered in the 2022 opener against Russell Wilson and the Broncos, so the Hawks do not want to cut him.
Thus, the likely options are simple restructures, maybe an extension or two and/or possibly getting Adams to defer some of his salary.
Simple restructures of Adams and Diggs could free up almost exactly what the team needs, but they also would create higher cap hits in 2024-25. The Hawks might not want to do that, especially because they probably are not sure whether they will keep Adams in 2024 and Diggs’ deal runs only through 2024.
The restructures could be divided among Adams, Diggs and Lockett – the three biggest salaries — so the added cap hits in 2024-25 would not be as big individually. Convert $6 million from Adams and Lockett and $8 million from Diggs and you get $4 million in savings from each guy – thus the needed $12 million.
The most creative way to open up space would be to get Adams to defer some of his $11 million salary to 2024. Give him a $4.5 million bonus now with a $2 million salary and defer $4.5 million more until after the season. That would end up saving $7.5 million for Seattle in 2023 – kicking it to 2024-25.
Some have suggested extending Nwosu and/or Fant. Even if the Hawks were able to reach deals with those two by July, the best they could free up would be around $8 million – and that would be restructuring their 2023 deals as part of extensions that paid the signing bonuses in 2024.
Will Dissly’s contract ($8 million per year) was one of the worst re-signings Schneider has ever done — and it is an albatross around the team’s neck right now. The injured tight end’s $5.64 million salary is guaranteed, so even releasing him once he is healthy would save them nothing. He has a ridiculous $9.2 million cap hit. Those numbers bump to $6.49 million and $10.1 million in 2024 – and you can bet (or we will anyway) Dissly will not be back at that price.
Meanwhile, any possible extension for Fant will start around $10 million. Fant is a better receiving weapon than Dissly and will need to be paid more. If the Hawks do not extend Fant, they will be starting from scratch at tight end in 2024 since Dissly won’t be back on that contract and Colby Parkinson will be a free agent as well.
Another, less likely way to save money is through a trade. Fant would free up $6.85 million, but that seems very unlikely given Dissly’s unpredictable availability. The Hawks love Nwosu, so even with three other pass rushers on board, moving him doesn’t seem very likely either. They need both of those guys.
One guy they should look to trade is Darrell Taylor. The Hawks just drafted Derick Hall to go with Nwosu and Mafe. Taylor is not a fit for the 3-4. He was terrible against the run in 2022, but he had 9.5 sacks — and some team might be willing to give up a second-round pick plus a mid-rounder in 2024 for a good, young pass rusher.
There are still some veteran pass rushers available – Leonard Floyd, Frank Clark, Yannick Ngakoue – but Taylor is younger and cheaper and will be just a restricted free agent in 2024 because he missed his rookie season and his contract tolled. Jacksonville, Chicago, Carolina and Detroit are among teams that still need pass rush help after the draft.
Schneider wants more ammo for a strong 2024 draft – this is one way to try to get some using a position of strength. A trade also would bring back $1 million in cap space.
The Hawks probably won’t consider it this year. But we think they should, whether it’s before training camp, at the end of August or even near the trade deadline (assuming he is healthy and performing).
One thought on “How will Hawks make cap room for rookies and the rest?”
Yes, trade Taylor. No, Dissly’s contract was not horrible unless all market-value contracts are horrible. I was surprised they didn’t grab a tight end from this deep TE draft. It would have allowed them to move on from Fant who can’t block for a team that values run-blocking receivers. Fant was rated as the 29th-best TE by PFF. Dissly was 15th. With Smith-Njiba in the fold, our tight ends will likely be more important as blockers than receivers.