Analyst: How Byron Murphy could help Seahawks’ financial future

May 11, 2024, 9:36 PM | Updated: May 12, 2024, 8:33 pm

Seattle Seahawks Byron Murphy II...

Byron Murphy II of the Seattle Seahawks at rookie minicamp on May 3. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks find themselves in a peculiar situation with three months to go until preseason games get underway.

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Seattle is among the most cash-strapped teams in the NFL in terms of salary cap availability. According to Over The Cap, the Seahawks currently have just $1,500,466 of free cap space, which ranks 31st in the league only in front of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Further complicating that situation is that Seattle’s projected effective cap space, which takes into consideration the future signings of rookie contracts, is $1,505,722 over the threshold.

This means the Seahawks will have to find ways to free up space to sign the rest of its draft picks and bring in any more free agents, which president of football operations John Schneider acknowledged when he joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob after the draft. The team has already started that process, restructuring the contract of cornerback Michael Jackson Sr. earlier this week. That saved the team nearly $2 million in cap space, according to OTC. There undoubtedly will be more moves to free up cap space, too.

The cap problem isn’t just germane to the 2024 Seahawks, though. OTC also projects Seattle to be in the red in 2025 as things currently stand. According to CBS Sports draft analyst Josh Edwards, Seattle may already have one of the answers to fixing that problem on its roster. He explained why first-round draft pick Byron Murphy II could be a part of the solution Thursday when he joined Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob.

“It gives them an off ramp to the large contracts they have at that position moving forward,” Edwards said.

The contracts Edwards is referring to are those of fellow defensive tackles Leonard Williams, Dre’Mont Jones, Jarran Reed and Johnathan Hankins.

After trading second- and fifth-round draft picks to the New York Giants for Williams last season, the Seahawks brought back the veteran defensive tackle on a three-year, $64.5 million deal this offseason. The deal carries $43.5 million in guaranteed money and makes Williams one of the highest-paid DTs in the league. OTC lists Williams’ cap number at $10.4 million for 2024 with it bumping up to $29,150,000 next season and $24,950,00o in 2026. The 2024 cap hit is an estimated 11.2% of the team’s allotment.

Jones is in the second year of a three-year, $51 million deal with $23 million guaranteed. He carries a $18,176,666 cap hit this season and $23,176,668 in 2025. The final year of the deal is projected to account for 8.9% of the team’s cap space.

Reed and Hankins are both in the final years of their deals. Reed signed a two-year, $9 million contract that called $4.19 million guaranteed prior to 2023. His cap hit is $6,370,000 this season. Hankins is in on a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1,960,000.

The quartet of Williams, Jones, Reed and Hankins are accounting for 10.8% of the team’s cap this season, according to OTC. However, that number balloons to 20.1% for just Williams and Jones next season. Seattle could save $16,510,000 against the cap in 2025 if it cut Jones before June 1 of next year.

Murphy, who signed his rookie deal with Seattle last Friday, won’t have a cap hit above $5 million until the final year of his rookie deal in 2027.

“A lot of veterans in that group now where you suddenly have a player that you feel comfortable with ultimately fulfilling one of those long-term roles, and maybe that does allow you to move off one of those veterans in the next couple of years and reallocate some of those resources to a new position,” Edwards said. “… If you’ve got a guy like Byron Murphy who is able to absorb some of the potential loss of having to move on from Leonard Williams or Dre’Mont Jones, then that allows you to do some different things.”

Listen to the full conversation with CBS Sports draft analyst Josh Edwards at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Wyman and Bob weekdays from 2-6 p.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

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