Moore: 5 Seahawks veterans who could be cut before the 2020 season
As of now, the Seahawks have $44.6 million in salary-cap space after signing tight end Greg Olsen last month. A big chunk of that space will be eaten up if they sign Jadeveon Clowney to a long-term free-agent contract, a move I’m not in favor of.
If they re-sign Clowney, they still won’t have a legitimate prototypical pass-rusher and will be cash-strapped to fill other needs as well. But general manager John Schneider has some intriguing options to increase the salary cap. He could cut five players entering the last year of their contracts and free up around $20 million, almost enough to sign Clowney if that’s what they hope to do.
Let’s take a closer look at five players who could be cut or have their salaries restructured.
Justin Britt, center
Turns 29 in May. Tore ACL in October in Atlanta but is expected to be ready to go for the 2020 season. Has a base salary of $8.25 million in 2020 and an $11.67 million cap hit. He is projected to be the third-highest paid center in the league, and as good as he’s been, he doesn’t warrant having that kind of a paycheck. The Seahawks could save $8.75 million against the cap by releasing him.
But would you be OK with Joey Hunt replacing him as the permanent starter? Or Ethan Pocic? Or someone else, maybe a free agent? It seems like most thought that Hunt was passable but didn’t look like an above-average long-term starter. And Pocic is a long-shot of a candidate based on subpar play in his first three years.
Verdict: I’d try to restructure his contract and bring him back.
K.J. Wright, linebacker
Will be 31 when season starts. Had a good 2019 season. Remained healthy after a 2018 season marred by a knee injury. Has a $5 million base salary in 2020 and a $10 million cap hit.
Verdict: I love him, but it’s time to move on and go with younger players such as Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. There’s no doubt about Barton’s ability to start in the NFL, but questions remain about Burr-Kirven. I’d roll the dice and cut Wright.
Ed Dickson, tight end
Has been here two years but you’d hardly know it. Played well in short stints in 2018 but never got on the field last year. Scheduled to make $3 million this year.
Verdict: Easy decision to cut Dickson. Seahawks appear good to go at tight end with signing of Olsen and hopefully healthy return of Will Dissly. Jacob Hollister is a restricted free agent and also likely to return.
Bradley McDougald, safety
Seattle’s strong safety has $3.6 million salary in 2020 with $5.4 million cap hit. Turns 30 in November.
Verdict: I’d keep him. You could make the argument that Marquise Blair could replace him in 2020. But as a rookie in 2019, Blair didn’t show enough to justify playing full-time. Everyone liked the second-rounder’s big hits, but there was something missing in his overall game. Maybe he’ll flash more this year than he did in 2019, but I wouldn’t bet on it, and McDougald has been a solid starter.
D.J. Fluker, guard
Turns 29 on March 13. Right guard has a $2 million base salary in 2020 with a $3.4 million cap hit.
Verdict: Another keeper, but I could be talked out of this more than McDougald. Fluker’s a road grader in the run game, but you wonder about him holding up for another season. You’ve got capable candidates to replace him in Jamarco Jones and Phil Haynes, but those players might be needed to replace Mike Iupati at left guard if he leaves in free agency.
Another player to keep an eye on: Bobby Wagner, linebacker
Signed a three-year, $54 million contract with $40 million guaranteed last year. Has a $10.75 million salary in 2020 with a $14.75 million cap hit. Averaging $18 million a year, Wagner had a good 2020 season but didn’t offer bang for the buck, making only a handful of significant plays. If his 2020 season matches his 2019 season, he’ll be in line for a restructured contract in 2021.
More from Jim Moore:
• Seahawks would be better served signing Armstead over Clowney
• Seahawks QB Russell Wilson avoids country music, but reason is far-fetched
• Best way to improve Seahawks’ defense could be replacing Norton
• Moore: The top 10 free agents the Seahawks should go after