Deshaun Watson to the Browns

In a stunning turn of events the Browns went from being out of the Deshaun Watson trade discussion to landing the superstar quarterback via trade with the Texans. As part of the trade Watson secured a new contract that is worth $230 million over five years and is fully guaranteed. I guess as they say “money talks” and the Browns put up a great offer.

The cost is nothing short of stunning and an amazing win for his agency, Athletes First. Watson originally had been schedule to earn $136 million over the next four seasons. Effectively the Browns just threw him a $94 million franchise tag for the rights to the 2026 season. It is an absurd amount of money which I would guess no team in the NFL would come close to matching, especially give the costs of the trade. According to Albert Breer the Browns will give up three first round picks and two other high draft picks in addition to forking over the major contract.

Watson’s new contract will average $46 million per year which will make him the highest paid player in the NFL, depending on how one views Aaron Rodgers recent contract extension which can be valued as high as $50 million per year or in the sub $40 million per year range.

You could arguably value Watson’s number at $50 million per year. Watson never technically played a down that extended into his non-rookie contract years for the Texans under the terms of his extension he signed in 2020. The Texans paid him $20 million in new money for those years. His “veteran” years technically were to begin with the 2022 season. So if we add that raise to this new contract you get $250 million for five seasons, all of which was guaranteed. This might be the greatest job securing money for a player in NFL history.

The Texans will carry $16.2 million in dead money for Watson which will open up $24.2 million in cap room for the Texans. How they will use that is anyone’s guess. Given their recent history they will probably sign 8 players making $3 million a year. That aspect is really unimportant for them as they need to use these pieces to rebuild a franchise that was devastated by bad trades and bad contract decisions.

The Browns will need $35 million in cap space to execute this trade. We currently estimate that they have about $16 million. If they can not unload Baker Mayfield and his $18.828 million salary as part of this trade they will either have to quickly find a trade partner for him or make some other adjustments. They can open up around $15 million in a max restructure of Amari Cooper’s contract and beyond that would likely have to get Denzel Ward to tack void years onto his contract. Another option would be to release Case Keenum with the intent of signing him once Watson’s new contract and lower cap number are finalized. The Browns will open up $9.5 million in cap room on June 2nd so they have plenty of cap room coming in the future.

This trade should open up to discussion the concept of including no trade clauses in NFL contracts. For the most part these were clauses only in the contracts of quarterbacks because there was a feeling that teams would not move their franchise players. However we are now seeing a number of players demanding trades which puts teams in a very difficult spot. When a player can also dictate his destination you lose leverage in the trade talks. The Texans did something unique in that they would not allow teams to talk with Watson until they presented an offer to Houston that would be acceptable, which gave Houston more leverage, but in the future I would expect these clauses to either be gone or teams to go back to the days of using salary advances to try to recover money along with the picks as part of a trade.

Eagles Designate Fletcher Cox a June 1 Cut

The Eagles designed Fletcher Cox a June 1 cut today and I want to explain how I believe his contract works on the salary cap. Cox restructured his deal last year in what was one of the more complex contracts Ive seen in the NFL, since at least the days of the old rookie system. The Eagles essentially maximized their options with Cox by giving them an out on a massive contract while also maintaining their ability to extend or trade him without having a salary cap disaster.

What the team did was convert a bunch of Cox’ 2021 and 2022 salary into two bonuses that would prorate on the salary cap. In return Cox also got a large guarantee on his 2022 compensation that would kick in tomorrow in essence forcing the Eagles to make a move in early March rather than dragging him into the summer and then cutting him late if he refused a pay cut. The 2022 bonus, which is factored into his 2022 cap charge and dead money you see on OTC, was an option that did not have to be picked up until much later this year.  

For the time being Cox’ 2022 salary cap charge will remain the same as if he was on the roster. I believe that the number is $14,946,820. On June 2nd the only salary cap charge that will remain with the Eagles is the prorated portion of Cox’ salary. I am not 100% sure what that will be. It will either be $12,826,820 or $9,641,409. The difference is the option proration for the option that was not exercised. I can never pinpoint the NFL’s treatment of this. In many cases the credit usually comes the following year but this may be more unique with a June 1. In any event if it is the larger number they will get a cap credit of $3,185,411 in 2023.

For 2023 the dead money should now be $15,359,292. The reason this is much lower than what is shown on OTC is because the option was not exercised and we are in a different league year than when the player was cut. So all that acceleration that is attributable to the bonus should now be gone.

The new contract gave the Eagles plenty of flexibility with Cox. Originally Cox would have counted for $23.88 million on the 2022 salary cap with over $20 million in dead money if cut. With such a high salary the June 1 possibility likely did not exist because they would have had to carry him on the 2022 salary cap at that high figure. Basically this allowed them to drop his 2021 and 2022 salary cap numbers and push the charges out to 2023 which never could have happened on the original contract.

Matt Ryan, Deshaun Watson, and the Falcons

A surprising entrant emerged in the Deshaun Watson trade talks today- the cap starved Atlanta Falcons. While it seems a longshot since there have been so many questions about how they could pull a trade off I wanted to put together a post talking about some of the issues that have caused confusion among people.

I would imagine for any trade to occur Matt Ryan would need to be on the move either to Houston or as part of a package to another team like the Colts. Ryan agreed to the terms of a restructured contract last Friday night that reportedly would see the Falcons convert $15 million in compensation to a signing bonus. The move would save the Falcons $12 million in cap space.

At the time the decision seemed a little premature. The Falcons no longer needed cap room to be compliant for the year and unless they were planning a major free agent splash there was no real need to rush into creating cap space. The only issue really is that Ryan had a roster bonus due on the 3rd day of the league year and you would lose to the right to convert that to a prorated bonus after that date. Still they had plenty of other salary they could convert if needed.

As things stand right now the Falcons have not actually pulled the trigger on the restructured contract. Ryan still counts for $48.67 million on the 2022 salary cap and his dead money is $40.525 million if traded or cut. It is not the $55 million listed on OTC. For the time being I am going to leave the number as is simply because I expect them to pull the trigger on the restructure in the next two days and it gives a better perspective on the Falcons cap situation. I dont see them cutting Ryan given his history with the franchise but the number to be used in a trade is $40.525 million.

The cost to bring in Deshaun Watson would be $35 million on the cap. With Ryan at his full cap charge the Falcons would have about $4 million in cap space. That number does not include a recent extension for Jake Matthews which I would guess opened up $6-8 million in cap room for Atlanta. So lets call it $11 million. By trading Ryan the team would create $8 million in cap space which would bring us to about $19 million.

From there it gets harder. The Falcons don’t have much to work with on the roster outside of one big move- releasing Grady Jarrett. Releasing Jarrett would open up $16.55 million in cap room. That would probably be enough to bring in Watson. If it wasn’t then also releasing Tyeler Davison ($3M in net cap savings) would do it.

If the Falcons were intent on keeping Jarrett they could do that as well, but I think they would have to cut first and then re-sign him. Teams do this all the time with lower salaried veterans at cut down day to protect the IR spots on the roster. What you would do is cut Jarrett to open the cap room, trade for Watson, and then restructure Watsons contract to bring his cap down from $35 million to between $9.5 and $10 million. That would give you the cap space needed to sign your rookies and bring back Jarrett. So I would guess this is the path that the team would have to take if they wanted to trade for Watson.

As for Ryan he would cost a team $23.75 million on the cap. The Colts could clearly take that on. Houston could as well following the trade as the net cost on the cap between Watson’s dead money and Ryan’s salary would be a push, but I am not so certain the Texans would really want Ryan since they should be rebuilding. The only other QB needy teams currently with the cap space are the Panthers, and neither they nor Atlanta would do that deal, and the Seahawks who I guess could possibly be interested for a late pick. Since Ryan has that roster bonus due on the third day of the league year the Falcons would need the trade processed before then as well so time is not on their side.

So clearly it is a longshot, but crazy things happen in the NFL all the time, so maybe they can find a way to pull it off.

2023 Compensatory Picks Potential

The 2022 league year in the NFL officially starts on Wednesday, March 16. The two day negotiating period of free agency commences on Monday, March 14, and it is then when we would typically get first knowledge of the largest contracts to be signed. With those contracts signed come the assignment of some players as compensatory free agents (CFAs), and thus the generation of compensatory picks for the 2023 NFL Draft. Now that we know which players will be effectively taken out of free agency via the franchise tag, thus it’s time to take a look at what comp pick potential teams might be looking at.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills have only 14 pending UFAs eligible (Mario Addison will not be one of them, due to getting his contract shortened in exchange for taking a pay cut), but there are two players that could see some notable attention. One is typical: Levi Wallace will be looking for his second contract after playing over 92% of the snaps. The other is backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who may get a more lucrative deal if teams try to harness the potential that gave him the pedigree of a 2nd overall pick. With a few other older players that might not be done yet (Jerry Hughes, Emmanuel Sanders), and a roster without notably major holes, the Bills could hold out for a couple comp picks if they choose. Potential: Moderate

Miami Dolphins

With Mike Gesicki franchise tagged, the top free agency attention will likely now turn to Emmanuel Ogbah, who is coming off back to back nine sack seasons. But beyond Ogbah, other than perhaps Jacoby Brissett fetching a decent veteran quarterback contract there aren’t many other potential CFAs of note for Miami. Combine this with a new head coach and lots of cap dollars to spend, and this could be an offseason for the Dolphins to strike with filling the depth chart with veterans instead. Potential: Low

New England Patriots

The Patriots took a one year break from fetching comp picks by going all in on multiple veteran free agent acquisitions after a rare year when they missed the playoffs. Now, with New England back in playoff contention as usual, they could shift back toward comp pick acquisition. If so, the primary goal would be preserving a high comp pick for the departure of JC Jackson, who was not franchise tagged, and if he can get more than about $14.5M APY on his contract, that should end up as a 3rd round comp pick value. New England can also maximize the number of comp picks awarded by letting other notable contributors walk, such as Dont’a Hightower, Ted Karras, Devin McCourty, or Ja’Whaun Bentley. Note that Trent Brown will not be eligible to be a CFA once again for the Patriots, as his contract was shortened upon being traded back to New England. Potential: High

New York Jets

With Marcus Maye not receiving another franchise tag, he’ll try to get a top level contract while coming off an Achilles injury. Other midlevel players who could see some early free agency action include Morgan Moses, Folorunso Fatukasi, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. But offsetting the comp pick potential is having a top 5 amount of cap space, which could also be used to help take advantage of Zach Wilson’s contract in his second year. Potential: Moderate

Baltimore Ravens

With 20 pending UFAs, it looks to be business as normal in Baltimore in their regular emphasis to collect compensatory picks. Among the contributors from last season set to hit free agency are Bradley Bozeman, Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, DeShon Elliott, Anthony Averett, Jimmy Smith, Patrick Ricard, and Sammy Watkins. Even if the Ravens re-sign a few of their UFAs, they have plenty of room to max out their 2023 comp picks by letting others walk as CFAs. Potential: Very High

Cincinnati Bengals

Jessie Bates was given the franchise tag, but there are some other players like CJ Uzomah or Larry Ogunjobi that could see some good deals in free agency if the Bengals don’t retain them. However, the Bengals have to offset this with the fact that they have plenty of cap dollars to spend, and they are defending AFC champions with Joe Burrow still on a relatively cheap rookie contract. The time to strike on getting key veteran additions in an effort to finally get Cincinnati its first Super Bowl victory may be now. Potential: Low

Cleveland Browns

The Browns will have 15 pending UFAs after franchise tagging David Njoku, and that will not include Andy Janovich due to not exercising a team option that used to be standard in contracts for the Broncos (who the Browns traded with to acquire him) as a way to exploit a comp pick loophole that no longer exists. Among those UFAs include some midlevel contributors like Anthony Walker, Malik Jackson, Ronnie Harrison, and Rashad Higgins. And as always, Jadeveon Clowney cannot be counted out as he continues to search for that top tier contract coming off being a 1st overall pick. There’s not a lot of quality for potential CFAs coming out of Cleveland, but the Browns could manufacture some quantity if they hold off on signing CFAs from other teams. Potential: Moderate

Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu Smith-Schuster will try to give it another chance in free agency for a major long term deal after having to settle for a lower one year contract last offseason. The Steelers have a trio of 90%+ snap contributors from last season hitting free agency in Chukwuma Okorafor, Trai Turner, and Terrell Edmunds, and Joe Haden cannot be discounted even as he’ll turn 33 for the 2022 season. That’s plenty for the Steelers to work with if they want to emphasize comp picks, as they typically do–particularly if they do not sign a CFA quarterback to compete with Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins to succeed Ben Roethlisberger. Potential: High

Houston Texans

The Texans lead the league in pending UFAs with 29, but among them are very few players that might sign CFA-worthy contracts–perhaps Justin Reid, Desmond King, or Maliek Collins. With another head coaching change and a weak overall roster, Houston may have to back into the well of veteran acquisitions to fill out the depth chart. Potential: Very Low

Indianapolis Colts

This offseason could be a repeat from the last for the Colts, who have some money to spend but they may also have room to gain some comp picks at the same time. Players that could become notable CFAs include starting offensive linemen Eric Fisher and Mark Glowinski, receivers TY Hilton and Zach Pascal, and edge rusher Al-Quadin Muhammad. Having 23 total pending UFAs could also help out to the cause of filling out the comp pick ledger in the lower rounds. Potential: High

Jacksonville Jaguars

With Cam Robinson oddly tagged a second time, and Andrew Norwell ineligible to become a compensatory free agent due to shortening his contract, the Jaguars are left with hardly any other notable CFA-capable free agents other than DJ Chark coming off a season ending injury. With tons of cap space in Trevor Lawrence’s second season, a new head coach, and a franchise that has a history of not caring for comp picks to the tune of having the longest drought of receiving them, I would not expect Jacksonville to show up on the 2023 comp picks list. Potential: Very Low

Tennessee Titans

With Harold Landry extended, the Titans end up having a high quantity of UFAs, but a low quality of those who could become CFAs, with perhaps long time center Ben Jones turning 33 being the leader of that group. However, the Titans also have 24 total pending UFAs, and are also on the lower end of salary cap room for 2022, so if they hold off on free agency on those grounds they could still fetch some lower level comp picks. Potential: Moderate

Denver Broncos

The Broncos are unlikely to have any pending UFAs generate high round comp picks, particularly since Teddy Bridgewater will not be eligible for CFA status due to the Broncos agreeing to remove the final season of his contract that he signed with the Panthers. However, there are still plenty of midlevel UFAs that could generate a good quantity of comp picks for a GM in George Paton that likes having a high quantity of draft picks in general–particularly after yielding significant draft capital by acquiring Russell Wilson. Those players include Bryce Callahan, Kyle Fuller, Josey Jewell, Alexander Johnson, and Melvin Gordon among their 17 CFA eligible UFAs. Potential: Moderate

Kansas City Chiefs

As expected, the Chiefs franchise tagged Orlando Brown, Jr., but are plenty of other players that could generate a high quantity and quality of comp picks for Kansas City. They include Tyrann Mathieu, Charvarius Ward, Mike Hughes, and Daniel Sorenson from the defensive backfield, Jarran Reed and Derrick Nnadi on the defensive interior, and Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson at wide receiver. Melvin Ingram also cannot be discounted despite turning 33 for next season. The Chiefs have some holes on the roster they might want to fill with signing an external CFA or two, but even in that case they should be well suited to still be on the 2023 comp picks list. Potential: Very High

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders have 24 pending UFAs, but very few of them look to be of high CFA quality. Perhaps their best chance is if Marcus Mariota receives something more than a backup quarterback contract. However, this should be weighed against hiring a new head coach that didn’t particularly care for comp picks during his last tenure as such. Las Vegas is likely to continue its usual status as a franchise that also doesn’t care about comp picks. Potential: Very Low

Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams was extended, leaving 20 other pending UFAs that’s probably led by Uchenna Nwosu, with other older players like Chris Harris, Jr., Jared Cook, and Linval Joseph next up in line. There’s some room for this team to generate comp picks from that, but with one of the highest amount of available cap dollars in the league, they could also look primed to make some big expenditures in free agency. Potential: Low

Dallas Cowboys

Dalton Schultz was given the franchise tag, but there are still plenty of other pending UFAs that could be popular in the early stages of free agency. They include Michael Gallup, Leighton Vander Esch, Keanu Neal, Cedrick Wilson, Jr., Connor Williams, and Randy Gregory. Dallas prefers to keep their own at extensions at a premium, so some of these players might be retained, but since they trade that off by rarely making forays into unrestricted free agency, that naturally leads to compensatory picks–and this offseason shouldn’t be different for the Cowboys. Potential: High

New York Giants

The new front office in New York has been aggressively cutting salary in more than just an effort to get cap compliant. This would indicate that may be interested in making several top moves in free agency to churn the roster to their liking. They have a few players (Will Hernandez, Evan Engram, Jabrill Peppers) that might get good deals elsewhere, but those CFA losses could be offset by CFA signings on the Giants’ end. Potential: Low

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have the league’s fewest number of pending UFAs at nine, but within those nine are some core contributors from 2021 on defense. Steven Nelson, Anthony Harris, Derek Barnett, and Rodney McLeod all played at least 60% of the snaps last season. Pair that with only moderate cap space and three first round picks among 10 total in the draft, and this could be the beginning of a youth movement in Philadelphia that spans into 2023 with comp picks. Potential: Moderate

Washington Commanders

Brandon Scherff was effectively free from being tagged again, and this will be his best chance to get the major contract in his career. Beyond Scherff, there is not many players of note. The Commanders just made a big expenditure in acquiring Carson Wentz, so they could decide to keep their CFA signings low enough just to preserve the one high pick they could get for Scherff’s departure. Potential: Low

Chicago Bears

The Bears have a new front office, and they could elect to go in either direction when it comes to comp picks. On the one hand, they have 27 pending UFAs, and they include players like Allen Robinson, Akiem Hicks, Jakeem Grant, and James Daniels that could get very good deals elsewhere that could help them play the comp pick formula in their favor. On the other hand, their cap space is on the higher end, and having that many free agents could also indicate that they feel they have plenty of roster holes to fill with veterans. We’ll learn hints as to which path Ryan Poles prefers in the coming days. Potential: Moderate

Detroit Lions

The Lions have only 13 pending UFAs, but there are some high contributors from 2021 among them. Charles Harris started to live up to his 1st round potential, Tracy Walker was one of their top defensive backs, and Alex Anzalone always has potential if he can stay healthy. The Lions don’t show much consistently in going after comp picks, and tend to let them come to them, as they’re projected to from last offseason. We could see the same this offseason, or we could see a more active approach in free agency to add talent for Dan Campbell to work with. Potential: Moderate

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are extremely up against the cap with the looming extension of Aaron Rodgers, and placing the franchise tag on Davante Adams. Combine this with a team that has the history of obsessing over compensatory pick collection more than any other team, and good CFA candidates in De’Vondre Campbell, Robert Tonyan, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Rasul Douglas, and we should see Green Bay on the 2023 comp pick board as usual. Potential: Very High

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings will have 18 pending UFAs, and that will not include Anthony Barr, who shortened his contract via renegotiation. Beyond him, however, includes plenty of other possible CFA-worthy UFAs like Patrick Peterson, Xavier Woods, and Sheldon Richardson. The Vikings also have some work to do with their salary cap, so even despite a new front office that might want to shape the roster to their desires, Minnesota might still end up with comp picks even if they’re in the lower rounds. Potential: Moderate

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons have a high number of pending UFAs at 23, but not much more than wishful promise for some of the their most notable names hitting the market. Russell Gage probably leads that list with 770 receiving yards from last season. Cordarrelle Patterson could always continue to get attention even in his 30s. Perhaps a team could take a flier on Hayden Hurst to try to unlock any perceived first round talent. Foyesade Oluokun could get a good deal after playing almost all the snaps at linebacker. Atlanta perhaps needs to hold off on signing CFAs from other teams if they want comp picks. Potential: Low

Carolina Panthers

Haason Reddick will be a leading edge rusher to watch on the market that also leads Carolina’s possible CFA-worthy free agents. Jermaine Carter and Donte Jackson were two other high snap contributors on defense that will hit the market. Matt Paradis could see a third contract, and DaQuan Jones could still be a reliable player even in his 30s. Weighing against the Panthers’ compensatory pick potential are recent restructures of players like Taylor Moton and Shaq Thompson that could indicate a willingness to be active in free agency. Potential: Moderate

New Orleans Saints

Once again, the Saints are up against it on the salary cap, and once again that could mean that they have no choice but to earn compensatory picks, despite having perhaps the lowest reputation for caring about them. Marcus Williams will not be tagged again and will be a leader in getting a top tier safety deal. Terron Armstead will be attractive at a high priority position at left tackle. Kwon Alexander and PJ Williams could be good midtier options for other teams. And finally, Jameis Winston is always liable to finally break through with a better veteran contract that even at the top of the backup tier could be comp pick worthy. Potential: Very High

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After running back the roster with Tom Brady last offseason, much of the roster is set to run off Tampa Bay along with Brady. Even with Chris Godwin being franchise tagged again, there is Ryan Jensen, Alex Cappa, Carlton Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jordan Whitehead, William Gholston, OJ Howard, and Ronald Jones–all hitting unrestricted free agency. The quality and quantity of the Bucs’ 2023 comp picks should be through the roof. Teddy Bridgewater in particular could be an attractive QB option for Tampa Bay, since as described above in the Broncos’ section, signing him would not cancel out a comp pick in the formula. Potential: Very High

Arizona Cardinals

Chandler Jones appears to still have a big market even at age 32 for next season. On the other age end, Christian Kirk is quite young for a UFA at 26 that could get a good deal for a team looking to bolster wide receiver depth. James Conner and Chase Edmonds are a pair of running backs that could similarly be depth bolstering. The Cardinals might not get many comp picks or high comp picks, but if they are restrained with CFA signings could still end up on the list for 2023. Potential: Moderate

Los Angeles Rams

Much like last offseason, the Rams’ pending UFAs are low in quantity (13) but high in quality (Von Miller (albeit capped at the 5th round due to the 10+ accrued seasons rule), Darious Williams, Brian Allen, Austin Corbett, and perhaps Sony Michel). It’s a huge shame in so many ways that Odell Beckham, Jr. tore his ACL in the Super Bowl–for purposes of comp picks, it seems highly unlikely he will sign a contract anywhere anytime soon. Last offseason, the Rams played the comp pick game masterfully to restock their allegedly depleted draft capital to eight total picks by maxing out with four comp picks. Don’t be surprised if they do the same again. Potential: High

San Francisco 49ers

Even while turning 30, Laken Tomlinson still could have a good third contract heading his way. The same could be true for Jaquiski Tartt. On the younger end, DJ Jones appears set to strike it rich on the market if he leaves San Francisco. This is another team that might not see the top tier of compensatory picks for 2023, but could still bolster their draft capital that year nonetheless. Potential: Moderate

Seattle Seahawks

It’s a new era in Seattle with Russell Wilson sent to Denver and Bobby Wagner released. Who knows what the future will hold with the Seahawks? They have tons of cap space, so they could go heavy in free agency to fill some needs, and ignore comp picks this time around. Or, they could double down on the hoard of picks they got from the Broncos, and let players like Duane Brown, Quandre Diggs, DJ Reed, Rasheem Green, Rashaad Penny, and Will Dissly follow Wilson and Wagner in departure. There’s an argument to be had for either direction in the current uncertainty of these crossroads. Potential: Moderate

Looking at the Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks made two bold moves yesterday- trading QB Russell Wilson and informing LB Bobby Wagner of his pending release- that signaled a surprising move from a contender to a rebuilding football team.  The decisions come just a season after the Seahawks were seemingly “all in” on the current roster, signing some long term extensions for players while also bringing in some players via trade and free agency to extend their playoff window.  There were rumors that Seattle could “blow things up” with their coaching staff and front office but it seemed that they were going to be given another chance with a healthy Wilson to return to the playoffs. Now it looks as if they will be tasked with rebuilding a team from the ground up. I wanted to take a look at what they did and where they may go from here.

The Big Trade

While we can argue with the big picture plan Seattle had I don’t think you can argue with the trade value that the Seahawks received here. Last year Wilson was already making noise that he no longer wanted to be in Seattle and odds are it was not going to be long before that started again this year. Once things get to that point it can compromise what a team can and can not do with a trade.

The closest comparison to this trade would be Matt Stafford to the Rams last season. In that trade the Lions acquired two first round draft picks and a third round draft pick for Stafford and what amounts to at least $41.15 million in salary spent on Jared Goff. Goff was going to start for Detroit so it was not a pure salary dump (the net cost for Detroit is probably about $20M if we factor in a high level journeyman to start)  but I think you can make a strong argument that the actual trade was Stafford for a 1 and the rest was for the other 1 and 3.

The trade here is going to be two first round draft picks, two second round draft picks, and a 5th round pick along with Noah Fant and Drew Lock for Russell Wilson, a 4th round pick, and what amounts to $8 million, which is the cost of Shelby Harris. Harris, IMO, was included as a salary dump which is why I view it this way. This was a way for the Broncos to offset some of the cost of Wilson without making Seattle look bad.

This is a much better return than the Stafford deal. Yes Wilson is the better player but their situations are pretty comparable and there is probably more risk in trading for Wilson, even with the higher on field upside, than there was with Stafford. While some are wondering why the need for the other players, those players do give Seattle options. While Lock has been terrible he is still a quarterback and if they can get anything out of him he may land a comp pick for Seattle in the future since QB salaries can often be well above the perceived talent level of the player. Fant can actually play and may be a piece the Seahawks can use going forward. If not the way tight end salaries work they should definitely get a comp pick for him whether it is from his leaving in 2023 or 2024. So when you factor that all in I think this is a great deal for the Seahawks.

The Release of Bobby Wagner

It is probably not even arguable that Wagner has been the best linebacker in the NFL for about a decade. The Seahawks will clear $16.6 million in salary cap space with his release which will give them options. There is no role for a player like Wagner on a team like this so this seems like a no brainer. The news broke late in the day and sometimes that news dump is designed to spike trade interest in a player. It is possible that the front office is willing to just let him go and choose his next spot but I don’t think you can totally rule out Seattle picking up a few dollars and trading him for a 3rd or 4th round pick. That is probably the best way to approach it but I can also understand doing the “right thing” and just releasing him outright.

Future Trades/Cuts

Once you make bold moves like this you clearly are announcing that you are open for business and Seattle has a number of talented players who could get moved. Seattle is one of the few teams that uses option bonuses in their contracts which makes some trades a bit more complex than just looking at OTC and selecting “trade” to see the cost of the trade. So let’s look at the candidates.

Tyler Lockett- The Seahawks signed Lockett to an extension last year which saw him get a raise of $9.5 million in 2021 and his 2022 salary guaranteed. Lockett has $16 million due to him this year which is currently going to split as $3 million in salary and $13 million as an option bonus. Lockett’s option has to be exercised between the 1st and 5th day of the league year. If traded before that the option becomes the responsibility of a new team and the dead money to trade him will be just $15.2 million. It is a loss in cap room but affordable especially after the release of Wagner.

If they still want to keep their options open they can decline the option and elect to just pay $16 million in salary this year.  That would spike his cap number but would let them continue to explore options to trade him all the way until the regular season begins and get the benefits of a June 1 trade. Again the money saved by Wagner would allow them to do this on their salary cap. If they exercise the option the trade is basically cut off since it would then cost $28.2 million on the cap to trade him.

Lockett would cost a team just $25.7 million over the next two years which should make him a very attractive player in a trade. Seattle absolutely should be exploring this trade and should keep their options open as long as possible. It is hard to see Lockett being an important piece for Seattle in a few years when they have a QB capable of playing.

Jamal Adams- Adams contract has a similar structure to Lockett. The cost to trade before the option is $16 million while after the option would be $28.44 million. An acquiring team would take on $25.4 million over the next two seasons if they traded for Adams. I am not sure what kind of trade value they could get for him and while it would be nothing like they paid for him this may be addition by subtraction at this point. Adams is going to be looked at as the player who broke the Seahawks. While this is not fair, it is what it is and it might be in the best interests of all if they can just move on.

Gabe Jackson- Seattle traded a 5th round pick for him when the Raiders announced he would be cut and in turn signed him to a modest contract extension. Jackson only costs $6 million this year and if they could recover the 5th they gave up for him that would be a big win for Seattle. Jackson’s salary is guaranteed so they can not release him.

Carlos Dunlap- As part of “going for it” last year they brought back Dunlap on a two year contract. To fit him on the cap they had to defer a lot of money on the contract which means cutting or trading him would not create much cap room but they would save $5.1 million in salary this year and they would eliminate the 2023 costs of his contract voiding. I would lean more toward a cut than a trade.

Chris Carson- Cutting Carson creates $3.425 million in cap room while leaving the team with $3 million in dead cap space. They would save $4.925 million in salary. The only issue here is that Carson was hurt most of last year and may also qualify for injury protection which reduces the savings by $1.2 million. He probably should still be cut but they could opt to try to renegotiate his contract to lower his salary and have the same cap impact as cutting him.

Jason Myers- Seattle would save $4 million in cap room by releasing Myers. I cant see the reason for a rebuilding team to have $5 million in cap devoted to a kicker.

DK Metcalf- Trading Metcalf does not make sense to me since he is the wide receiver that you can pair with a young QB. While they would save nearly $4 million in cap space that is less valuable than a player like Metcalf. The only reason to consider this is if they got a haul for him in a trade.

Overall given the state of the roster this is a big project for the Seahawks. There is not much in the way of young talent on the team and they need to hit with all the picks they acquired for Wilson. Trading Wilson was probably in the best long term interest of the team. They were fading in the NFC West and this gives them the best opportunity to reset. His value may have gone down if he played this year and spent time out with injury again. The best thing for Seattle now is to see how many pieces they can move from their roster. If they can trade down this year or even out into next years draft it might give them the better chance to fill all of the holes in what could be a stronger draft that what many expect this years draft to be.

Seahawks to Trade Russell Wilson to the Broncos

In a stunning blockbuster trade the Seahawks have agreed to trade Russell Wilson to the Broncos according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter

Wilson had reportedly wanted out of Seattle last season when rumors began floating about teams he would be willing to play for outside of Seattle. Wilson does have a no trade clause so he will need to waive it to finalize any trade.

The Seahawks will take on $26 million in dead money for Wilson as part of the trade. The Broncos will assume Wilson’s 2022 and 2023 contract years which are worth $24 and $27 million apiece, though I would imagine they will extend Wilson as soon as the trade is final. The trade itself can not be processed until the start of the new league year though we will process it early on OTC once the deal is finalized.

Trading Wilson will set the Seahawks on a rebuilding path which may include starting Drew Lock this season if he is part of the trade. It is a stunning turn around in direction for a team who just two years ago sold out to acquire safety Jamal Adams from the Jets for two first round draft picks. I would guess they will recover two first round picks with this trade.

Unless Seattle has something else up their sleeves for a move at QB this really makes 2021, in hindsight, just look like a total miscalculation. They extended Jamal Adams for $17.5 million a season and Tyler Lockett for $17.25 million a season, traded for and extended Gabe Jackson, brought back veteran Carlos Dunlap, and re-signed Chris Carson. One would have to guess that they will try to find some takers for some of their veterans including star linebacker Bobby Wagner who is entering the final year of his contract.

The move will give Denver the QB it has been searching for since Peyton Manning retired. The team has a good amount of money invested in their wide receivers but has been totally limited by their QB the last few seasons. Denver was projected to have nearly $40 million in cap room and could easily afford Wilson’s contract even if no extension is signed.