At the beginning of training camp, the Seattle Seahawks helped solidify a very solid core with a $US87 million extension for Russell Wilson and $US43 million extension for linebacker Bobby Wagner.
In the process, the Seahawks are also losing their biggest advantage over the NFL — flexibility.
As SI’s Peter King broke down, the Seahawks are paying 10 players a combined $US97 million in average annual salary through 2017.
In addition to Wilson and Wagner’s impending eight-figure extensions, the Seahawks also took on Jimmy Graham’s $US8 million salary this offseason and gave Marshawn Lynch a three-year, $US31 million extension. Add this to the contracts for Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Earl Thomas, and the Seahawks have an elite, pricey core.
The Seahawks drafted well in recent years and have had the advantage of holding onto talented players on cheap rookie deals while spending their money on veterans, free agents, and players due for extensions.
Now, however, the Seahawks don’t have money left to spend on keeping other young players. According to Travis Pittman of King 5 News, the Seahawks are currently $US5.4 million under the salary cap. However, next season when Wilson and Wagner’s cap hits jump with their new extensions, that cap space virtually dries up, even if the salary cap rises.
This is a problem for the Seahawks and their other young players hitting free agency. As Pittman notes, with players like J.R. Sweezy, Russell Okung, and Brandon Mebane hitting free agency next summer, the Seahawks lack the resources to keep them around.
To sign Wagner, the Seahawks had to release Tony McDaniel. In May, perhaps with knowledge that they wanted to extend Wilson and Wagner, did not pick up the fifth-year option on Bruce Irvin, who has said he wants his money, too:
Yall crazy if u think I’m not gon go get mines! Ain’t no fun if the homies can’t get none!
— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) August 2, 2015
They have further financial problems to deal with still, as safety Kam Chancellor is holding out of training camp for more money.
This puts Seattle in an awkward position of having to choose who to keep and who to cut. Pittman suggests that as early as next season the Seahawks may have to decide between Graham and Lynch — something Grantland’s Bill Barnwell suggested when the Seahawks traded for Graham. The Seahawks will have to choose between losing an elite pass-catcher, an elite rusher, or losing a young defensive player for nothing.
Don’t expect the rest of the NFL to feel bad for the Seahawks. The NFL institutes a hard cap so that teams will have to make these decisions, thus giving the rest of the NFL the chance to keep up with the elite teams. Parity!
This is an ok situation for Seattle — they have 10 great players locked up for the foreseeable future. However, given their lack of flexibility going forward, this could be the best iteration of the Seahawks that we see before they have to make the inevitable decision of who to keep and who to let go.
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