Estimated 2015 Cap Space: $24.0M ($143M cap limit)
Players Under Contract: 64
Pro Bowlers: 5
Unrestricted Free Agents: 16(2 with 50%+ playtime)
Draft Selection: 31
Salary Cap Breakdown
Free Agents to Re-sign
I don’t believe that Seattle needs to make a major push for any of their unrestricted free agents. If Kevin Williams looks to continue playing in the NFL he should be an affordable rotation guy to keep for another season on a one year deal. Similarly if O’Brien Schofield doesn’t test the market and will come back on another minimum type contract he will be a reasonable payer to keep in the rotation.
Free Agents to Let Walk
With heavy commitments to Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas I am not sure how wise it would be to also sign Byron Maxwell to a lucrative contract extension. Because of the limited options at the positions in free agency Maxwell will likely command a premium on the market which will probably exceed his true value…The team passed on the expensive option for James Carpenter last season and I would not expect him to be a priority as they prepare for free agency. I don’t discount that he may be back, but it should be after they make a run at others at the position.
Contracts to Modify
Extensions should be the name of the game for the Seahawks this offseason. Obviously the big question here is what dollar figure will make Marshawn Lynch happy to not cause a distraction during training camp or consider retirement. While it is rare that a team needs to overcompensate at this particular position I don’t think there is any possible way to claim that Lynch is replaceable at this point. His running style and ability to carry the ball so many times is simply not a trait you see any more in the NFL and the Seahawks need to run him until he simply shows he can’t run anymore…While it may take some work to accomplish the best thing the Seahawks can do for their long term salary cap situation is to sign Russell Wilson to an extension now to better spread out the cap charges over the next few seasons. There are many ways to go with that contract, but eventually he will, by some metric, be the highest paid QB in the NFL…Bobby Wagner is also up for an extension and given the history of their extensions with the players in the secondary it would see as if he will be re-signed this offseason…Russell Okung may also be in the discussion for an extension since this is the final year of his contract, but he may opt to play the year out in hopes of increasing his value.
Players to Consider Releasing
Releasing Brandon Mebane saves the team $5 million. He will be 30 this season and coming off injury the team will likely see more benefits to cycling that money into other players…Tony McDaniel is in the final season of his contract and the team saves $3 million by releasing him. McDaniel is a solid enough pro, but again I think the consideration will be that there are players that can replace him. This is a good group of free agents for the interior of the defensive line. McDaniel could be a player that is released and then re-signed if they fail to find an upgrade in free agency…Zach Miller missed pretty much the entire year and releasing him creates $2.4 million in cap room. Again this is a player that could be released and brought back on a lower cost deal, but they should look at free agency before deciding Miller is the guy.
Too much has been made of the Seahawks pending “salary cap doom” that will occur when Wilson is re-signed. Seattle did what they had to do last season by releasing a number of veterans and trading malcontent Percy Harvin and his bloated salary off the team to ensure that at least the next two seasons will be ok in terms of cap constraints. Other than Maxwell there are really no home grown free agents that can really change their flexibility either.
Seattle can definitely use another wide receiver or athletic tight end to add to the mix. Seattle is going to want explosive players and guys capable of making those big plays when the ball is thrown their way. I think Jordan Cameron is a natural fit for the team and worth the risk unless the costs get excessive. He can complement the players they already have on the team.
I know most people do not feel as if the team will be in play for a big wide receiver, but they had allocated millions of dollars to Harvin just two years ago and planned on him being an important part of the mix this season. Both Jeremy Maclin and Torrey Smith would be two free agents that would fit the bill. Smith doesn’t have the best of hands, but he would lighten the load for Doug Baldwin and make the overall group more effective.
Defensively they should be able to find a moderate cost defensive tackle this year. Names like Melton, Paea, Peters, Knighton, etc… are all available and come at a cost lower than the savings realized on releasing Mebane and McDaniel. They should be able to find an all around performer that aids in run and pass.
When it comes to the draft I would anticipate the process of adding to the offensive line and finding some young guys to potentially replace some of the players who may be gone in the coming seasons. I would not discount the possibility of using free agency to find a player, as there are some good interior lineman and right tackles out there, but I think the draft is the best way to go for the long term. They should be able to find some defensive lineman to groom behind the starters as well.
If you are not a fan of the Seahawks it is scary to see how the team is positioned. In a salary cap era this looks to be one of the rare teams that really has the ability to keep an extensive core of players together for a 3 or 4 year window. While other teams have been successful, names the Patriots, those teams are few and far between. Though the Super Bowl was lost in a heartbreaking fashion the Seahawks should remain one of the top teams in the NFL for the foreseeable future.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.