RENTON — All of a sudden, that salary-cap space the Seahawks had at the beginning of the offseason has narrowed.
They’ve gone from more than $54 million last month to $18.3 million entering Friday, the fifth day of the NFL free agency period.
That reduction accounts for Seattle signing free agents Greg Olsen and B.J. Finney, giving a second-round tender to restricted free agent Jacob Hollister, original-round tenders to David Moore, Joey Hunt and Branden Jackson, tendering exclusive-rights free agent Malik Turner and more.
That doesn’t account for the signings the team has yet to officially announce, including free agents Bruce Irvin, Brandon Shell, Cedric Ogbuehi and Luke Willson.
And, of course, it doesn’t include Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney has received multiple offers and hasn’t liked any of them, none approaching over $20 million per year he was seeking to become one of the game’s top-paid edge rushers.
The longer he remains unsigned, the better the Seahawks’ chances to re-sign the three-time Pro Bowl defensive end more from around $18 million or so per year believed to be Seattle’s offer range.
If that happens, the Seahawks are going to need more salary-cap room. And even if it doesn’t the team still needs to do more to improve the pass rush; only Miami had fewer sacks last season.
Plus, the Seahawks need to allocate about $7 million for the eight choices they currently own in next month’s draft. And then they need some more money to sign undrafted rookie free agents, and for injured-reserve players that come up during the 2020 season.
Candidates to be cut
1. Ed Dickson: The 32-year-old tight end has been injured for both of the seasons he’s been with the team since signing a three-year, $10.7 million deal before the 2018 season to replace departed Jimmy Graham. Seattle signed Olsen, the three-time Pro Bowl veteran, last month for one year and $7 million. The Seahawks have Will Dissly, whom they love, coming off a ruptured Achilles in October. They are optimistic on his recovery but aren’t yet sure when he’ll be back on the field.
2. Tedric Thompson: You lose your job, force your team to make a trade to get your replacement, then have season-ending surgery, you are in danger of losing your place on the roster. Then you get it floated that your team has given you permission to seek a trade, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported earlier this week.
The Seahawks might as well have announced they were cutting him in advance.
The Seahawks will save $2.13 million against their cap if they can somehow find a team willing to trade for Thompson. More likely, they will release him.
3. Justin Britt: This is the trickiest one.
Britt had season-ending knee surgery, a complete reconstruction, in October. He may not be ready for the start of training camp in late July. The Seahawks just signed and re-signed two guys who could replace him. And Britt’s salary-cap charge is huge.
But coach Pete Carroll talked last month at the NFL scouting combine as if Britt is excelling and working back into the team’s plans for 2020.
“He looks real good,” Carroll said. “I’ve seen him a number of times coming through the building, and all. His attitude and … I know I’m hearing of the work ethic he’s putting forth is exactly what we would hope for right now.”
Releasing Dickson, Thompson and Britt would save $13.88 million against the cap.
Teams don’t worry a ton about cap space when doing deals like Seattle is trying to do with Clowney. They can and almost always do find ways to make the numbers work while getting the players they really want.
What about K.J. Wright?
Some may think K.J. Wright is a candidate to be released because the team could save $7.5 million against the cap charge for 2020, the final year of his two-year contract, and his age (31).
But the longest-tenured Seahawk earned this second, non-guaranteed year of his deal with one of the best seasons of his career in 2019.
If they need it, and they likely will, they can find cap space elsewhere.