With yesterday’s news of Carlos Dunlap being cut as a cap casualty, I thought I’d hop on Spotrac to see what the Seahawks’ salary cap looks like for 2021. While it has yet to be determined what the actual cap will be in the NFL, Spotrac is going off of a $185 million valuation; it’s interesting how that figure keeps going up based on initial worries of it being around $175 million or so. That’s still a drastic reduction from the $198 million it was in 2020, but not such dire straits that we need to be jumping out of tall buildings or anything.
Anyway, if we assume $185 million is the figure, the Dunlap release leaves the Seahawks with around $25 million in money to spend (minus whatever we need to save for draft picks and IR replacement players). Not the worst shape I’ve ever seen. Indeed, the Seahawks are only sitting on a little over a million dollars in dead money, and exactly one million of that is going to B.J. Finney. Again, not too shabby.
We’ve got a little over $89 million going to our top five players (Wilson, Wagner, Lockett, Reed, Brown), and, of course, there’s Jamal Adams’ extension to factor in (which could be a reduction in his nearly $10 million salary, if we rework everything and are able to spread money out over his signing bonus).
Beyond those guys, we’ve got our dwindling NFL Middle Class. Quandre Diggs is making just over $5.5 million, Brandon Shell accounts for over $5 million, Jason Myers is just over $4 million (he was extended through 2022, and as a guy who didn’t miss a field goal last year, is well worth his salary), and the player with the 10th-highest salary on the Seattle Seahawks is … Michael Dickson?!
Now, I know what you might be asking, because they were the first words that popped into my brain when I saw he’s earning $3,456,540 this year: “Wait, isn’t he still on his rookie contract?” And, yeah! You’d be right! He was drafted in the fifth round in 2018; 2021 is the final year of that deal. You’ll recall that Rashaad Penny was a controversial first round pick in 2018, and he’s set to make less money than our late-round punter. What gives?!
Well, Michael Dickson has an All Pro and a Pro Bowl berth under his belt, and has been among the very best punters in all of football in his young career. Per NFL rules, he has earned a “Proven Performance Bonus” which is one of those things I’m sure I was aware of, but never really gave too much thought to until I noticed that our punter is our 10th-highest paid player in a cash-strapped season (at least, as of March 9th; I’m sure that will change in the weeks and months to come).
If you look at this chart, you will see Michael Dickson is currently the second-highest paid punter in the NFL in 2021. Including Dickson, there are 13 punters earning more than a million dollars. Eight of those players are earning between 2 and 3 million, which I think is a figure one would expect to see next to a highly-rated punter in the NFL. And, certainly, with the way the Seahawks play football (largely conservative), the punter here has more impact than it does in a place like Kansas City, for instance, or other teams who tend to score on a high percentage of drives and otherwise go for it on 4th down over punting on a more regular basis.
I guess my point is, I like Michael Dickson, and I want him to be on the Seahawks for a very long time, but I don’t know if I like the idea of us paying upwards of $3.5 million per season for ANY punter. I know, in the grand scheme of things, we’re talking nickels and dimes here; but the Seahawks had among the fewest leftover salary cap dollars in the entire league last year. Every nickel and dime counts! Especially this year, where we’re in a Win Now mode, and trying to fill numerous holes on this team.
This feels like another case where we can extend him now and net a little savings in the short term with a signing bonus, while maybe controling him at a more reasonable figure for the next four years, when presumably the NFL’s salary cap will shoot back up again thanks to the new TV deal and everything else. I mean, it’s Michael Dickson, he’s young and elite; this should be a no-brainer! Assuming he doesn’t suffer some fluke catastrophic injury, he should be good to go for another decade!
I know it’s not the most pressing thing the Seahawks need to do, but sometime over the spring or summer, maybe let’s get this done and take one thing off our plate that we will otherwise have to worry about later.