Clayton: How the Seahawks’ compensatory pick situation impacts likelihood of UFA QB signing

Apr 12, 2018, 10:18 AM
seahawks, john schneider...
Seahawks GM John Schneider added seven UFAs this offseason. (AP)

Wednesday’s agreement by the Seahawks to sign former San Francisco 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson was a little bit of a milestone.

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It was the seventh signing of an unrestricted free agent by Seattle. Seven UFAs were also signed by the Seahawks last year, and even though this year’s seven signings account for significantly lower as far as salary cap and cash, they come a higher price. Because more than likely, despite the fact the Seahawks lost more unrestricted free agents than they signed, they won’t be able to get fourth-round compensatory picks in return for Jimmy Graham, Sheldon Richardson, and Paul Richardson.

Backing up for a second, let’s review the compensatory pick equation: Teams can receive a compensatory pick if they lose more qualified UFAs than they sign. Qualified picks are those not signed to the minimum salary.

One example is ex-Seahawks tackle Matt Tobin. He recently signed a one-year, $815,000 deal with the New England Patriots that qualified for the minimum salary benefit, so it doesn’t count as a Seahawks net loss. Linebacker Terence Garvin signed for the minimum last year, so his new deal with the Miami Dolphins will be pretty close to that. Dontae Johnson’s signing gives the Seahawks a plus-three (as far as qualified signing as opposed to losses). With that in mind, the Seahawks have until May 8 to continue to add unrestricted free agents, because it’s not going to change the compensatory equational.

Last year, the Seahawks spent $17.715 million in contracts for UFAs. They found one starter in that mix, safety Bradley McDougald, who re-signed for around $4.5 million a year.

Excluding the Dontae Johnson contract, the Seahawks spent $15.410 million in contracts this offseason, including a three-year deal for tight end Ed Dickson and two-year deals for OLB Barkevious Mingo and WR Jaron Brown. All of last year’s deals were for one year. In other words, the Seahawks should get a little more longevity from this year’s free agent (despite that fact Dickson is heading into his mid-thirties).

The current problem for Seattle

The problem overall for the Seahawks is that Luke Joeckel and Eddie Lacy haven’t drawn anything in free agency. Lacy’s silence has been understandable. Even though he received $4.25 million last year, he was a non-factor for the Seahawks running attack.

Joeckel is clearly the best remaining free agent at guard, but has had little interest. The Seahawks paid him $8 million on a one-year deal to fill the left guard spot. He needed time off during the season to fix the recovery from his 2016 ACL.

Since the first month of free agency passed and Joeckel and Lacy weren’t going to help the Seahawks compensatory formula, the Seahawks had to made moves in free agency to fill voids. They couldn’t worry about 2019 draft choice.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Seahawks hit the UFA market for a veteran backup quarterback whether it’s Derek Anderson, Mark Sanchez, Matt Moore, or others.

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