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Which Seahawks are playing to keep their contracts after 2023?
5 players who could be playing to not get cut or traded in 2024: Seaside Joe 1561
In Thursday’s Seahawks fan survey—which you have until tomorrow morning left to respond—the first question addressed in the polls was whether or not Seattle would be wise to give edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu a three-year, $45 million contract extension. So far, 68% are voting “Yes” but several good points were made in the comments section.
“Schneider didn’t extend Cliff Avril after the first year of his 2-yr deal. I can’t see Schneider extending Nwosu either.” - Paul G
“Resigning him now, assumes there is enough cap room for next year to make this reasonable.” - Susan Dye
The Seahawks did extend Avril before the end of his second season, but waited until December. Avril was probably more motivated to accept Seattle’s best offer because he had only accumulated 4.5 sacks with one or two games left in the season.
A similar situation could play out for Nwosu, as the two sides wait out their game of chicken.
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As far as whether or not the Seahawks are comfortable with their 2024 cap situation, the answer is probably “Not yet”. Seattle seemingly had much more room going into the 2023 offseason and then ended up having very little wiggle room, as they had to release a significant number of cap casualties in order to be able to re-sign Geno Smith, Drew Lock, Phil Haynes, while bringing in Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, Bobby Wagner, and Julian Love.
The point being that the Seahawks usually have less spending room than it would seem they do.
As of today, OvertheCap.com projects $23.1 million in space against a $256 million cap limit (which is also a projection and not yet set in stone) and the good news is that if Geno plays well then the Seahawks don’t have to address the NFL’s most expensive position again. If Geno struggles for any reason, the Seahawks can get $13.8 million in cap space by releasing him at the right time—but they would have to use at least some of that money to replace him, if not all of it and more.
Lock will be a free agent again in 2024.
Just as this year, Seattle has a number of player release options as to where they could potentially find cap space and just as in 2022 with Bobby Wagner, it’s possible that Pete and John will make difficult choices that not everybody agrees with.
We talk so much about how a player is in a “contract year” if he is entering the last year of his contract, but in the NFL, almost anything can be a contract year because players almost never reach the last year of a veteran contract. In fact, a veteran player may have more to lose when he’s entering the second or third-to-last year of his deal than if it is officially the final year; if he’s good enough, then the team won’t let him play out the contract anyway and he will be extended well before ever reaching free agency.
The REAL contract years are the years in which a player knows that he has little-to-no guaranteed money left on his deal and that he is now going to be so expensive that he has to have the season of his life in order to be extended.
This is why we saw Jalen Ramsey demand a trade to the Miami Dolphins. He had no guaranteed money left, he knew he could be a cap casualty, so he got the Rams to trade him to a team that was willing to pay him what he was owed and Miami immediately guaranteed his salary.
This is why DeAndre Hopkins is a free agent. He wasn’t worth the $19 million he was owed to the Cardinals and no team wanted to take on his salary. Even if Hopkins could still be a top-5 receiver, teams do not view him as a player worth a top-5 salary. Hopkins was in a contract year in 2022, even if we didn’t call it a “contract year”. Would Hopkins have played as hard and as well as he did (717 yards in nine meaningless games) if he had known that he was just going to be cut afterwards?
We can look at Seattle’s 2024 free agent list and say that those players are entering contract years (Noah Fant, Damien Lewis, Darrell Taylor, Jordyn Brooks, Nwosu being among them) and that’s true. But they might not be under as much pressure as some of the players who will see the wrong numbers go up (age, base salary, cap savings if released or traded) while their guaranteed money goes down. If their stats follow the guaranteed money on the downslope, then these Seahawks could be off of the roster by 2024.
This is not me telling you that I am demanding that the Seahawks release any of these players. Just as in the case of Bobby Wagner in 2022, sometimes it’s not the players who you expect or want Seattle to ever release or trade—but that’s when Pete and John turn to the people in the front office who care zero-percent about feelings. They’re just talking numbers.
I will order these players by cap savings with a pre-free agency release:
QB Geno Smith
Cap savings: $13.8 million
Though he just signed a three-year contract, Geno is absolutely playing to not be cut in 2024. He will carry a $31.2 million cap hit in 2024, about the same as what he would have gotten on the franchise tag this year, if he is still on the roster and on the same contract. If Geno Smith plays really well though, he could also be extended as another way to bring down his cap hit.
As another reminder, I talked about Geno’s ceiling (and floor) this week and I’ve queued the section up right here:
S Quandre Diggs
Cap savings: $11 million
Of course, we talk more about Jamal Adams being traded or released than Diggs, as Adams is the highest-paid safety in the NFL in 2024 yet he never plays. But Diggs isn’t far behind him and it will become a question of how Seattle could spend that $11 million if they added it to the budget next offseason. What if Adams has a Pro Bowl season and Julian Love is a bargain?
Diggs is such a likeable player and he’s made the last three Pro Bowl rosters, but the business side of football will look a little sideways at a $15.1 million cap hit in 2024 for a safety.
S Jamal Adams
Cap savings: $9.39 million
What will “the business side” say then about a $23.6 million cap hit for a player who has missed 25 games in the last three years? I don’t think a Pro Bowl season will save Jamal Adams. He’d have to be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate to stay on his contract and even then, I’m sure the Seahawks would want to have a discussion about re-doing his deal if he wants to stay on the roster. To which Adams would say, “trade me” and then we’ll find out if he has enough value to convince a team to pay his $16.5 million base salary in 2024.
I don’t think a team would do that.
WR Tyler Lockett
Cap savings: $7.105 million
I’ve written many times before that the NFL is simply phasing out receivers over 30. If I asked you to cite examples to the contrary over the last five years, you’ll have an extraordinarily difficult time coming up with any stand outs. That’s why 2023 will be so interesting to monitor, as Hopkins, Davante Adams and Lockett are turning 31, while Cooper Kupp, Stefon Diggs, and Mike Evans will be 30.
Setting aside our reasons as to why Lockett is such an exception against all the other great receivers who faded out of the league over 30, what do the numbers say? The numbers put him at a $26.895 million cap hit in 2024 (seventh-highest in the NFL, but some of the names ahead of him will be cut) and a little bit of savings if traded or released.
That’s in addition to paying DK Metcalf $24.5 million and having just spent a first round pick on Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
This isn’t the time to argue why Lockett won’t be cut, it’s merely a review of the salary cap numbers and what I can GUARANTEE you is that the Seahawks have never sat down and said, “No matter what happens in 2023, we will NOT cut or trade Tyler Lockett in 2024! No way, I’d rather DIE!”
As with Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Richard Sherman, and so on forever, every player is a constant evaluation of value vs. salary cap hit.
TE Will Dissly
Cap savings: $7 million
If I had to rank these players by most likely to be cut, Dissly would probably rank second after Adams. Dissly ranked 31st among tight ends in receiving yards last season (including behind Noah Fant) and yet his $10.1 million cap hit in 2024 would rank 11th at the position.
I know, some of the tight ends with more yards are far worse blockers, but that’s not what teams are paying for when they pay tight ends.
Fant and Colby Parkinson (who was 33rd in receiving yards despite playing in far fewer snaps than Dissly) are both free agents in 2024, so at some point I would think that the Seahawks are examining how they could change out some of the money owed to Dissly to keep one or both of those two.
Perhaps Dissly would accept a contract that is more in line with his probable value in order to stay on the team and remain in Seattle. The Montana native has been playing football in the same city since 2014.
NT Bryan Mone
Cap savings: $5.9 million
S Julian Love
Cap savings: $5.68 million
DT Dre’Mont Jones
Cap savings: $4.84 million
DT Jarran Reed
Cap savings: $4.47 million
Mone is definitely playing for his contract this year and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be ready for the start of the season. That makes him seem almost definite to be cut and adding almost $6 million to that $23.1 million in cap space.
Though Love, Jones, and Reed were only just signed, it wouldn’t be the first time that the Seahawks parted with a player soon after adding him as a free agent. Cary Williams didn’t even make it through one season of a three-year contract. Just last year, Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods signed two-year deals. Don’t get me wrong, Jones would be shocking… But Love and Reed are surely playing to prove that their contracts were good signings.
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