Contrary to my theory last October, it looks like Bobby Wagner will be here to stay, at least for a little while longer.
Funny thing about these contracts signed by future Hall of Famers: sometimes they come with roster bonuses you don’t see coming (unless you read the fine print).
Effective February 12, 2021, Bobby Wagner’s contract saw an additional $5 million become guaranteed money, raising his “dead cap” figure from $7.5 million to an untenable $12.5 million. What was – at one time – a possible savings of around $10 million (had we cut him timely), has now morphed into a relatively meaningless potential savings of $4.65 million. It’s not happening.
Not that I REALLY believed it would, but now here we are. While the salary cap probably won’t be in a dreaded $170-$175 million range, it’s probably not going to be significantly higher than $180 million, which is a far cry from the $198.2 million it was in 2020. The Seahawks – as I’ve belabored over and over again – are pretty much right up against that $180 million figure (when you factor in draft picks, practice squad, and Injured Reserve replacements) thanks to a number of high-money veterans currently under contract (including one Bobby Wagner). In order to do all the things we need to do (like extend Jamal Adams, or … you know, field a 53-man roster), the Seahawks need to do SOMETHING.
Instead of cutting Wagner – which again, was ALWAYS a long shot at best – we might be in a spot where we have no choice but to rework his deal (taking his base salary – of $13.15 million – and converting it into a signing bonus spread out over the remaining years of his deal). Without extending him, that means a savings of $6.575 million, which is a start (we could save even more if we tack on another year or two to his current deal, which would make him a Seahawks mainstay until the age of 35 potentially (if it’s a 2-year extension).
Everything I’ve been told about the NFL and its salary cap is: the worst thing you can do is continually kick the can down the road. Because, eventually, shit hits the fan and you’re stuck in Cap Hell for a year or two. It’s how you get these crazy swings from teams like the Dallas Cowboys (who go from 12 wins to 4 wins at the drop of a hat). Now, obviously, the pandemic changes things, as a lot of teams are going to have to kick the can in this fashion – extending their veterans, converting base salary into bonuses – just to make ends meet for the time being. But, now everything I’m reading is telling me that this is suddenly okay? That “creative financing” in the NFL happens all the time, and teams are pretty much free to do whatever they want as long as they cook their books accordingly?
I dunno, seems sketchy. Seems like a great way to run into some REALLY lean years sooner or later. I like a good escape hatch. When things get bad, I like to know I have an easy out, without a lot of repercussions. Getting stuck with aging veterans past their prime, who you can’t cut because they’re guaranteed too much money, isn’t my idea of a great Sunday afternoon in front of the television.
The janky-ass thing about all of this is that it’s not likely to stop with Bobby. I don’t know about you, but I’m not super stoked about seeing Carlos Dunlap walk; not after I watched this defense before and after he arrived this past season! Gotta extend him! And, I don’t know if you heard, but the Seahawks haven’t developed a competent, in-house left tackle since Russell Okung in 2010; so that probably means extending Duane Brown until he’s 40! I mean, I could go on and on, but there are a bunch of guys I’d like to have back on this team in 2021, who are free agents; but, just running back the same dudes doesn’t figure to see much in the way of improvement over a team that lost in the Wild Card round last season! Not when you KNOW this team needs to trim some fat – guys like Chris Carson or K.J. Wright, who play non-premium positions, yet will be asking for premium dollars – and could conceivably be worse at running back and linebacker heading into this season as a result.
I dunno. I don’t know what the Seahawks are going to do. What I DO know is: whatever that ends up being, it’s going to include Bobby Wagner in the middle of that defense.