This is part 2 of Braxton Kendall’s offseason review. Check out part 1 here: Seahawks Offseason Roster Review Part 1: Priority Free Agents – Hawk Blogger
Welcome to part 2 of this Seahawks offseason roster review. Last segment I went over the list 34 of pending Seahawks free agents and listed 5 who should be priorities to re-sign. However with a large number of players set to become free agents additional salary cap space will need to be created to give the front office breathing room to make the necessary upgrades to really bulk up this roster. While I don’t believe that the salary cap is fake like some do, it is very malleable. Several moves can be made to make even the most preposterously expensive offseason moves possible, so let’s dive in.
Note: All contract values were pulled from OverTheCap.com and Spotrac.com
Extend OLB Uchena Nwosu
Arguably one of the best free agent signings made by the Seahawks during the 2022 offseason. Only 1 year removed from signing a 2 Year $19 Million dollar deal, he has exceeded the expectations that came with said deal. Coming from a Chargers team where he was mainly a rotational pass rusher, his first year as a featured edge rusher saw him put up the best season of his 5 year career (66 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 passes defensed). Currently he is set to have a cap hit around $13 Million in 2023.
A 3 Year $45 Million dollar extension would put him in the salary range of Bengals pass rusher Trey Hendrickson, and Eagles pass rusher Haasan Reddick. A slam dunk that could save you several million against the cap in 2023 as well as solidifying a cornerstone of your defense going forward.
Estimated 2023 Cap Savings: $5.3 Million
Cut and re-sign DE Shelby Harris to a new deal
Brought over as part of the blockbuster Russell Wilson trade, Harris has been a bright spot on a much maligned Seahawks defensive line. While his statline for 2022 wasn’t anything to write home about at first glance (44 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 4 passes defensed) he was fighting off double teams pretty consistently and creating openings for other defenders to make plays. However, going into his age 32 season set to carry a cap hit of over $12.1 Million dollars, it’s reasonable to ask whether or not his current contract may be a bit rich.
I could foresee a similar situation occurring as the Carlos Dunlap contract a couple years ago where he was brought in via trade with a fairly large cap hit for the following season. Seattle proceeded to cut him and re-sign him to a more team friendly deal with a reduced cap hit. It’s very possible Seattle pulls off a similar move with Harris. 2 Years $14 Million could get it done. I can see a move like this benefitting both parties with a reduced cap hit for Seattle, and injury protection beyond 2023 for Shelby Harris.
Estimated 2023 Cap Savings: $5.1 Million
Restructure WR Tyler Lockett, FS Quandre Diggs, and SS Jamal Adams’ deals
Lockett, Diggs, and Adams represent, as it stands now, the three largest cap hits on the team next year with $16.75 Million, $18.1 Million, and $18.11 Million respectively per Spotrac. The Quandre Diggs contract specifically has a large jump in year 2 likely accounting for Seattle’s plan to draft a young franchise QB in 2023 to replace Russell Wilson. But with a new deal for Geno Smith appearing to be very much in the cards, Seattle could aim to shove some more money into later years.
Restructuring works by converting part of a player’s base salary into a signing bonus, effectively taking a portion of their cap hit for the upcoming season and spreading it out evenly over the remaining years of the contract. Without getting into the nitty gritty of how those numbers are calculated this could potentially open up a maximum of $5.7 Million for Tyler Lockett’s contract, $6.2 Million for Quandre Diggs’ contract, and $6.6 Million for Jamal Adams’ contract. Of course that’s if Schneider chooses to restructure all of their available base salary.
While this does make things easier to work around in the short term it doesn’t make these costs go away, it just means Seattle will be paying more in future seasons and could potentially make future moves more difficult.
Cut several underperforming/aging players
While not the flashiest way to open up cap space, it is definitely the simplest of all of them. Whether it be due to not meeting expectations, injury concerns, or simply getting up there in age, several players could be moved on from this offseason. Aside from Shelby Harris who was discussed earlier in this article, here are some players that could be getting the axe this offseason.
Cut RG Gabe Jackson
Gabe Jackson was acquired in 2021 via a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders to fill the hole of veteran guard Mike Iupati who announced his retirement earlier that offseason. He was largely seen as a good upgrade and as such was given a 3 year $22.5 Million dollar extension and was expected to solidify the interior of a much maligned offensive line. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. In 2 years with Seattle, Jackson has largely been a below average run and pass blocker and is now dealing with some kind of knee injury which has limited his snaps for the majority of the season. Jackson is due $11,262,223 dollars in 2023 and cutting him would save Seattle $6.5 Million dollars against the cap. With several good options available to bolster Seattle’s guard spot in free agency, expect Jackson to be given his walking papers.
Cut DE Quinton Jefferson
A familiar face brought back into the fold last offseason for 2 years $9.5 Million, Jefferson was coming off a career year with the Las Vegas Raiders. Expected to provide depth and interior pass rush ability under new DC Clint Hurtt, who was his Defensive Line coach in his earlier time with Seattle, Jefferson was largely hot and cold this season. He started off slow and was largely a liability in run defense earning a 39.0 run defense grade from PFF. But as the season wore on he showed his ability to rush the passer, finishing the season with 5.5 sacks (A career high) and 13 QB Hits. Cutting Jefferson would save Seattle $4.485 Million dollars against the cap in 2023, and with several intriguing defensive linemen in free agency as well as one of the deepest defensive line draft classes in recent memory, don’t be surprised if Seattle aims to reload with an influx of young talent.
Cut NT Al Woods
Coming off his third season in Seattle after signing a 2 year $9 Million dollar deal last offseason, Al Woods played about as well as could be expected for a 35 year old nose tackle. He was one of the lone bright spots in one of the worst run defenses in the league, and has been a plus player in Clint Hurtt’s defense. However by season’s end, age and injury had begun to creep up on him. He was limited with an Achilles injury towards the end of the season which saw a drop in his snaps and overall effectiveness. Even if he returns for 2023, expect to see his role greatly reduced and young players to take a majority of his snaps. Like I’ve said before free agency and the draft are rich in young talented defensive linemen. Cutting Al Woods would save Seattle $3.67 Million against the cap in 2023 and only carry a $1.75 Million dead cap hit.
Cut NT Bryan Mone
This may seem a bit premature especially with Seattle just signing Mone to a 2 year $11 Million extension this past offseason. He’s also only going to be 28 in his 2023 season. Even so, Mone could barely find the field at all this season with Al Woods taking the majority of snaps early, and was barely making a difference when he was on the field. Aside from a week 6 Cardinals game where he was playing at an All-Pro level, he was largely ineffective and unused most of the season. And now just a few weeks before the end of the season, Mone suffered what has been described as a catastrophic knee injury. Apparently there was a lot more damage done than just to his ACL and his road to recovery will be long and arduous. There’s a very good chance he won’t play a single snap next season, and potentially never again. As painful as it will be, moving on from Mone and investing in a young nose tackle is the best path forward for this organization. Cutting Mone would save $2.675 Million dollars against the cap.
In short, there are several ways for John Schneider and the Seahawks front office to create the necessary cap space to go out and add a couple of studs to this roster, like a Daron Payne or Javon Hargrave. It won’t come without making some tough decisions regarding personnel, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks.