Seahawks have a Russell Wilson-sized hole on the 2023 salary cap; How will they fill it?
Seaside Joe 1163: There might be more money than Pete Carroll knows what to do with
Shortly after the Seattle Seahawks traded Russell Wilson, I broke down how much money they could actually be saving by parting with a franchise quarterback of that level, even after having to pay an additional two first round picks, two second round picks, plus Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, and Drew Lock.
Seahawks are losing: four seasons of Russell Wilson
Seahawks are gaining: four seasons of 2022 1st round pick, four seasons of 2022 second round pick, three seasons of 2023 first round pick, three seasons of 2023 second round pick, one season of Drew Lock, one to two seasons of Noah Fant, one to two seasons of Shelby Harris, and roughly $70 million in cap space (which is the same amount they’re paying Jamal Adams).
The only reason I wrote “three seasons” for the second round picks is that I’m only looking between 2022 and 2025. In reality, the Seahawks are gaining four seasons of the second round picks (hopefully they pan out, of course) and potentially a fifth season on their first round picks. We also found out that Seattle would pick up Fant’s fifth-year option.
What I did find is that the Seahawks have another ~$70 million in cap space over the next four years, even after having to pay all of those players.
This is also why I am feeling closer to 100-percent sure than ever that Seattle will extend DK Metcalf prior to the 2022 season. It’s a little nonsensical that they wouldn’t and every offseason action by the team and Metcalf indicates that it’s all but a done deal.
And even after that, the Seahawks will still have an absurd amount of extra cap space to spend over the next couple of offseasons, at least.
At OvertheCap.com, Seattle’s 2023 contract liabilities comes in at $142.2 million against a projected 2023 salary cap of $225 million. Of course, the Seahawks will part with some of those liabilities and they will also add a few new ones, but Seattle could also gain additional cap space by rolling over what they don’t spend in 2022. The Seahawks still have $12.9 million in 2022 cap space and even though the “real” number is more like $6-7 million, we also don’t know for sure yet if Seattle will pay Chris Carson and/or Jason Myers.
Regardless, the Seahawks should be among the league leaders in 2023 salary cap space and since they have so few other priorities to pay next year other than Metcalf, it’s hard to imagine where that extra cash will go if not to players who are currently playing for other teams.
On Thursday, I welcomed salary cap expert—even if he says “I’m not really an expert” You are!— John Gilbert back onto the Seaside Joe show to talk about Seattle’s current situation and what to expect in 2023. We break down how contracts, dead money, extensions, and more work, so if you’ve been interested to learn more about that sort of stuff, this is a good 50 minute watch/listen.
Who are some intriguing 2023 free agents? I’ll list a few below.
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2023 free agents
Pete Carroll rarely shows interest in outside free agents and when he does, they’re usually 26 or younger and often come via trade. The Seahawks do have extra draft capital, but hopefully they don’t decide to go that route unless the player is exceptional. Unfortunately, most of Seattle’s exceptional trade acquisitions haven’t worked out that way. Could they try the first wave of free agency out finally?
Because the Seahawks should have as much as ~$50 million in cap space remaining even after they extend DK Metcalf and take care of a few of their other outgoing free agents who may be worth retaining. That’s basically exactly what they AREN’T going to be paying Russell Wilson. Since they don’t have a QB to pay $50 million annually to and should go the draft route instead, where does that money go?
Thankfully, Seattle has already started to build the wall around the QB position: Charles Cross, Abe Lucas, Kenneth Walker III, Tyler Lockett, Will Dissly, Noah Fant, Damien Lewis, and soon, DK Metcalf.
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Here are a few 2023 free agents to consider:
TE Dalton Schultz, Cowboys
He’s playing on the franchise tag and if Dallas can’t retain him, Schultz has the potential to be the NFL’s next star tight end. He had 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
DE Bradley Chubb, Broncos
Injuries have cost Chubb two of the last three seasons, but he was excellent as a rookie and in 2020, when he made his first Pro Bowl. The former fourth overall pick will only be 27 next year.
G Quenton Nelson, Colts
Want to go for broke on an interior offensive lineman? Nelson would be the one to do it for and it’ll be interesting to see if Indianapolis is ready to pay him as much as a left tackle.
LB Roquan Smith, Bears
He’s made second-team All-Pro in each of the last two seasons and is only 25 this year. It’s not typical for the Seahawks to make a huge splash on any players like these ones, but it’s not typical to have this kinda spending money and the need for Seattle to show that they’re a contender worth playing for—which Pete needs to prove again.
DE Marcus Davenport, Saints
Former first round pick is 26 this year. He’s never played in more than 13 games but he had nine sacks in 11 games last season.
CB Jaire Alexander, Packers
Most of these players will be retained before they ever hit free agency. But some of these teams will struggle to meet their contract demands and that could happen with one of Green Bay’s stars who isn’t Aaron Rodgers.
WR Deebo Samuel, 49ers
We’re still not sure how most of the receiver standoffs are going to play out. Imagine if the Seahawks pulled Samuel away from San Francisco—but that would require that he hits free agency. That won’t happen.
QB Lamar Jackson, Ravens
Someone was going to inevitably bring him up and true enough, Lamar Jackson is set to be a 2023 free agent. Is Baltimore comfortable giving him $50 million per year with $150-$200 million guaranteed? Is any team? Would you be?
Let me know in the comments. You all went off and blew up the comments with a ton of interesting Drew Lock thoughts yesterday and I appreciate you! Let’s keep doing that. Share/Subscribe/Say something if you like what you’re reading here at Seaside Joe!