Seahawks Death Week: Guys To Cut Or Let Walk

I’ve ranted and raved (mostly just ranted, while offending poor Shrimpy), and I’ve talked about why the Seahawks are not likely to be blown up (but probably should be). Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk specific guys I never want to see again in a Seahawks uniform (unless it’s as a civilian raising the 12th Man Flag one day).

So, here’s the deal: the 2021 NFL salary cap is projected to be approximately $176 million. The 2020 cap was an all-time high of approximately $198 million. It had been going up – since 2013 – $10 million to $12 million per year, with no end in sight given how profitable the league is in the United States and increasingly around the world. It’s the top-rated program on television, generating tons of ad revenue, which makes the rights deals with networks astronomical, and all teams share in the profits (making the NFL, essentially, a socialist entity, and a large percentage of its fans supporters of socialism in a way; but that’s neither here nor there). However, given the pandemic (and the lack of fans allowed to attend games in person), a serious chunk of revenue was lost for the 2020 season (and possibly part of the 2021 season, depending on how the vaccine rollout goes). As such, every team lost approximately $22 million dollars to spend on players.

This hurts a team like the Seahawks more than most. Ever since, probably, 2015 or so, the Seahawks have been up against the salary cap limit every single year. NFL teams can roll over any unspent cap money into the following year; we haven’t been able to do that, since we’re paying our existing players (and a small number of former players) all of that money. With our superstar players – Russell Wilson, obviously, at the top – accounting for such a high percentage of our salary cap, the Seahawks have had to make due by filling out the bottom two thirds of our roster with rookies and veterans making the minimum.

At the time of this writing, the Seahawks’ salary cap figure for 2021 already sits at approximately $162 million of our projected $176 million. That accounts for 35 players under contract, when we have to fill out a regular season roster of 53 players, plus a practice squad (somewhere between 10-16 players, depending on what the league decides in the offseason), plus money left over for replacement players making the league minimum when our regular roster guys hit the Injured Reserve.

Clearly, moves will need to be made. Players will need to be cut. And, 2020 guys whose contracts have expired will be thanked for their services and allowed to sign elsewhere. The following are the guys I hope – as I said before – to never see again on a playing field with the Seattle Seahawks.

I don’t have a lot of cuts. Really, it’s probably just one guy: Bobby Wagner. So, let’s start there.

Wagner is set to count over $17 million against our cap in 2021. He also just earned his sixth First Team All Pro honor. So, why would you cut a guy playing at such a high level? Well, I would argue the eye test says he’s on the downside of his career, and he’s only going to get worse from here. If we cut him now, it’s only $7.5 million in dead money we have to endure, which is nearly $10 million in savings (minus whatever minimal amount we’d pay to whoever replaces him on the roster). I would argue, given how cash-strapped we are, we HAVE to cut Wagner, just to fill out our roster! But, I would also argue that the difference between Wagner and a replacement-level player (or Wagner and Jordyn Brooks, if he happens to slide over to the middle linebacker spot) is not as great as you’d think. It’s certainly not worth the extra $10 million we’d be paying a 31 year old Wagner.

Unfortunately, what with him being a surefire NFL Hall of Famer and a guy whose jersey number the Seahawks will surely retire one day, I don’t see that happening. Maybe AFTER the 2021 season – when the dead cap figure is only $3.75 million – but even then, who knows? It could get REALLY frustrating trying to root for this guy the next couple years; here’s to hoping that the Seahawks do the smart thing – the unemotional thing – and let us all go out on a high note, rather than letting the relationship sour like so many others before (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, Cliff Avril – the last two due to career-ending injuries, but still a financial drain to this organization).

Two other candidates are Carlos Dunlap and Duane Brown. Dunlap has zero dead money counting against our cap if we cut him; otherwise, if his contract remains as is, he would be worth a hair over $14 million. That, obviously, isn’t happening. Not to say he isn’t worth it! He really changed the face of this defense when he came over from the Bengals! But, that price is too high for our cap. What I think will happen – given that Dunlap will only be 32 and still highly productive – is that the Seahawks will tear up the contract and sign him to a 3-year deal that’s team-friendly in the first year, with a significant guarantee for 2022, and a signing bonus that can be spread out over the life of the deal (maybe tacking on a non-guaranteed 4th year to make the salary cap right).

As for Brown, he’ll be entering the final year of his extension that would count $13 million against us (with only $2 million in dead money if we cut him). This is another guy I don’t think we can afford to leave as is and let his contract play out. He’ll be 36 years old next year. Now, he too played at a pretty high level in 2020, but if you saw what I saw in that playoff game – with how much difficulty he had in just getting up off the turf and moving around – you’d see a guy who’s not long for this league. At the very least, he’s not someone who will be playing at a high level for very much longer. He’s one knee injury away from his career being over, and that injury could come at any time. The problem is, we have no viable replacement on our roster. Anyone we do have is either injury prone or terrible (particularly as a left tackle). We could sign someone for cheap, but we’ve done that before (in the period post-Russell Okung to pre-Duane Brown, most recently) and it never works out. We could draft someone, but considering we hardly have any draft picks at all – and the ones we do have are QUITE low – anyone we ended up bringing in would be worse than the crappy veterans at our disposal.

Quite frankly, from a talent standpoint, we’re at least a year away from replacing Brown (and that’s assuming we manage to draft his replacement THIS year and hope that guy develops in a hurry). I don’t know what the plan with him was heading into 2020, but I don’t think it was to make him a cap casualty by 2021. On the contrary, I think the Seahawks are setting up to give him yet another extension, for a year or two beyond 2021, which I am absolutely dreading. But, if we want any hope whatsoever to contend next season, we’ll need to pray he can hang on.

***

I’ll close this post with a list of the no-brainers, but first here are some of the … brainers, I guess.

K.J. Wright had a fantastic 2020 season. He’s had a fabulous Seahawks career since we drafted him in 2011! But, he counted $10 million against us this year and that’s just not anywhere near a figure we can approach in 2021. Since I have no belief that the Seahawks will do the right thing with Wagner, then they MUST cut the cord with Wright and make Brooks a full-time linebacker in his second season out of college. Otherwise, why the fuck did you draft him so high in the first place?

Chris Carson’s rookie deal just expired. I won’t say he’s shot, but he’s never NOT going to be injury-prone! Considering how great he’s been when healthy, he’s going to demand a high salary; but since he can’t stay healthy, it makes no sense to pay him that, when we can get similar production from a cheaper guy (who hopefully will be able to stay on the field). I would also say that Carson – while building his reputation as a guy who sought out contact – spent the majority of his time (when he returned from injury this past season) avoiding contact and running out of bounds. Not that I blame him, mind you! He’s gotta get his! But, he’s obviously not the same type of guy when he’s avoiding defenders.

Ethan Pocic earned a little over $1 million as this team’s starting center in the final year of his rookie deal. Presumably, he’ll be looking for a raise if he re-signs. Since he STUNK against the Rams – and since he was average-at-best in all the other games – I see no reason why we couldn’t draft a guy (or even bring in an undrafted free agent) to be our starting center next year.

Shaquill Griffin’s final season under his own rookie deal just expired. He’s a good-not-great coverage corner with little-to-no ball skills and hardly any interceptions on his resume. Nevertheless, he’s going to be looking for a contract near the top of the market (not in the top tier, but definitely in the one right below it). That hypothetically could work under our cap – since the first year of any extension is relatively cheap, with most of the money being back-loaded – but considering the guys we have to pay, and also factoring in an extension for Jamal Adams, I don’t see how the Seahawks fit him in. We have D.J. Reed at less than $1 million, plus Tre Flowers if we have to start him again. I think we’ll get by.

David Moore just earned $1 million in 2020, and that was money well spent. I could see him commanding more money on the open market, and I don’t see why we should be the team to give it to him, since we have Freddie Swain on a rookie contract. For a third/fourth receiver? There are other ways to go.

This probably should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway because I feel like it needs to be said: LET GREG OSLEN GO INTO BROADCASTING! Fucking $7 million dollars (*shaking head*).

Jacob Hollister was tendered and kept on at over $3 million. That was unnecessary, and will be even MORE unnecessary in 2021. We have Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson (who we drafted relatively highly in 2020), and any number of youngish guys, as well as Luke Willson (who is always partying on the scrap heap, just waiting for us to bring him back). We don’t use the tight end enough to justify paying as much money as we do on it, not when we mostly need it for blocking purposes. Blocking tight ends are – like linebackers and running backs – another dime-a-dozen position group.

Finally, here are the guys who it should go without saying that we should let walk:

Mike Iupati – great career, but you’re done.

Quinton Dunbar – bust of a trade acquisition, bust of a player, bust of a human being (even if he wasn’t convicted of anything, he still probably did something sketchy).

Lano Hill – please, no more.

Neiko Thorpe – a once-great special teams ace who can’t stay healthy. Salud.

Phillip Dorsett – a nice idea as a free agent, but he never played a down. Wide receivers need healthy feet to be worth a damn.

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