Salary cap expert breaks down key Seahawks offseason decisions

Feb 16, 2024, 9:20 AM

Seattle Seahawks Jordyn Brooks Jamal Adams...

Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks and safety Jamal Adams during minicamp on June 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

The Seattle Seahawks made one big decision this week as it pertains to the salary cap as they’ll reportedly be keeping Geno Smith around, fully guaranteeing his salary for the 2024 season.

Report: Seattle Seahawks keeping Geno Smith, guaranteeing ’24 salary

But the Seahawks have plenty of other players to keep an eye on this offseason, as well, be it because of their current contracts or because they’re set to hit free agency.

Joel Corry, a salary cap expert for CBS Sports and a former NFL agent, joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy and shared his insight into some potential Seahawks offseason decisions.

What may be best for Seattle Seahawks and Jamal Adams

The Seahawks gave up two first-round picks, a third-round pick and a starting defender to get All-Pro safety Jamal Adams from the New York Jets in 2020. Adams was a second-team All-Pro in his first year in Seattle, and he got a contract extension the next offseason that made him the highest-paid safety in the NFL.

But Adams’ Seahawks tenure has been underwhelming, to say the least, in large part because of Adams’ health. He’s missed 36 out of a possible 67 regular season games during his four years with the franchise, including all but one in 2022.

Adams still has two years left on his deal, with a cap hit of nearly $27 million for 2024, per Spotrac.

Corry said Adams’ value right now “can’t be very high” due both to his injuries and that he “didn’t play well when he was on the field” last season.

“He leaves a lot to be desired in coverage,” Corry said.

Corry thinks Adams could benefit from there being a new coaching staff as he felt he was “definitely a goner” if Pete Carroll returned. Ultimately, Corry believes Adams and the Seahawks likely need to work out a contract restructure.

“If I’m Jamal’s agent, I’m calling up and trying to see if there’s some sweet spot in terms of where (the team gets) more cap space or relief than you would if you cut me and I’m going to get more than I might get someplace else,” he said.

Corry said the two sides could try and make it so there are more incentives for playing time in 2024.

“You’ve got Julian Love making $6 million, so maybe you take a big enough pay cut to where (Adams is) in the same neighborhood as him, you make it up incentives and that could potentially be what would be best for Adams and give the Seahawks more cap relief than an outright release,” he said.

Financial ramifications of a DK Metcalf trade

Seattle Sports’ Mike Salk brought up the idea of the Seahawks trading star receiver DK Metcalf this week in order for the team to get some high-end draft picks in return.

Salk: How a DK trade could help solve Seattle Seahawks’ roster issues

Corry said if the Seahawks shop Metcalf, they’d certainly try and get a first-round pick in return.

But there’s a big issue if Seattle does indeed trade Metcalf.

“If you’re going to talk about 2024 draft capital, he’s got a $24.5 million cap hit versus $23 million in dead money. You’re saving $1.5 million on the cap and have got to go out and get a No. 1 receiver,” Corry said.

Corry think the Seahawks will move on from a different receiver before trading Metcalf.

“If you’re talking about receivers leaving, it’s more likely to be Tyler Lockett if you look at it from what it would do from a salary cap standpoint,” he said. “It’s almost $27 million cap hit, the dead money is getting close to $20 million on a conventional release – not a post-June 1 designation – so you’d pick up $7.1 million if you’re going to try to not have the same receiving corps as last year.”

How much for Seattle Seahawks to retain Leonard Williams?

The Seahawks gave up a valuable draft pick this year when they traded a 2024 second-round pick — and a 2025 fifth-rounder — to the New York Giants for veteran defensive tackle Leonard Williams.

The move was notable at the time as the Seahawks were 5-2 and needed interior defensive line help. But Seattle went just 4-6 the rest of the way, missing the playoffs. Now, Williams is a pending free agent.

Corry said that because of Williams’ high salary in 2023, franchise tagging him is “not realistically possible” as it would be way too much money. Williams’ next deal, Corry said, will depend on a few factors.

“He’s making $21 million per year on the last deal. Is he thinking, ‘I’ll take a pay cut to stay,’ or is he looking for top dollar?” he said. “He’s already gotten one payday, so sometimes when you’ve already gotten a payday, you’re thinking, ‘I don’t necessarily need every last dollar.’ But I guarantee if he’s going to stay put, you have to pay him more than (fellow Seattle defensive lineman) Dre’Mont Jones.”

Jordyn Brooks vs Patrick Queen

The Seahawks enter this offseason with question marks at a lot of positions, especially at inside linebacker.

Bobby Wagner returned to Seattle after a year away and is again a free agent. So, too, is 2020 first-round pick Jordyn Brooks, who did not receive a fifth-year option from the Seahawks last offseason.

As it pertains to Brooks, who is 26 years old, Corry said the franchise tag is out of the question.

“If you’ve got a $242.5 million dollar cap, (the franchise tag total for) linebackers, which includes 3-4 outside linebackers (that are pass rushers), is going to be getting into the territory of $23 million,” he said. “The last off-ball linebacker to get a franchise tag was David Harris in 2011 for that reason.

Corry said that “familiarity brings comfort” in the NFL, and while the Seahawks may be comfortable with Brooks, new head coach Mike Macdonald has familiarity with the linebacker taken one pick after Brooks: Patrick Queen.

“He went to his first Pro Bowl, knows this defense (and the Ravens) already have a high-priced linebacker there in Roquan Smith and they didn’t pick up (Queen’s fifth-year) option for almost $12.8 million,” Corry said. “I’m sending Patrick Queen (to Seattle). If you’re gonna pay a linebacker, pay him. You know what he can do in this system, no offense to Jordyn Brooks. It’ll probably cost more, but that one makes sense to me.”

Corry said Queen will be likely be seeking a deal similar to Tremaine Edmunds of the Chicago Bears, who makes $18 million annually. He believes Brooks will command somewhere between $12 and $14 million per year on his next contract.

“Depending upon how you structure it from a cap standpoint, it may not be that much of a difference from a 2024 cap hit, but then the cap hits would start to diverge as you kept going on in the deal,” he said.

Listen to Bump & Stacy’s full conversation with Joel Corry at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

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