The Seattle Seahawks are a little over a week into training camp, with just over a week remaining until they take the field for the first game of the preseason on Saturday, August 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. There obviously won’t be a ton that can be learned from watching the Hawks take on the Steelers in Week 1 of the preseason, but it will at least give fans a football like substance to enjoy on a Saturday evening.
That said, focusing not on the preseason and rather on the salary cap, the biggest piece of the cap space puzzle has now been addressed, with the team officially inking star wide receiver DK Metcalf to a three year contract extension that will keep him under contract through the 2025 season. Thus, with that knowledge, it now allows fans to look forward through the 2022 season and into the offseason in order to begin to dream about the big name free agents fans will clamor for who will eventually sign elsewhere.
In any case, any evaluation of the Seahawks 2023 cap space begins with a look at the 2022 space in order to figure out how much space the Hawks might roll over from this season into next. So, turning to the NFLPA public salary cap report, Seattle currently has approximately $14.8M of cap space available this season. There will certainly be some shuffling at the end of the roster during training camp, but it seems unlikely that any bigger names will be added that could create a significant dent in that number.
However, the team will need cap space during the season for both the practice squad and injured reserve. In 2022 the minimum salary for practice squad players is $11,500 per week, meaning a full practice squad of 16 players for the course of the season will require $3,312,000 of cap space. That is not the only cost for the practice squad, however, as the elevation feature of the 2020 CBA allows teams to elevate two players from the practice squad each week in expanding the roster from 53 to 55 players. With those elevations come 53 man roster games checks, which are roughly two and a half times larger than the weekly practice squad salary. Therefore, if the team averages one practice squad player elevated each week, that will require around $470,000 of cap space over the course of the season.
As for the injury replacements, the minimum salary for NFL players in 2022 is $705,000, meaning that if the Seahawks see ten players land on injured reserve and those players are replaced with minimum salary rookies, it would require $7,050,000 of cap space. That number, of course, would only be the space requirement if all of the injured players were to land on injured reserve and require a replacement prior to Week 1 of the season. That means cutting the $7,050,000 in half in order to account for a more even distribution of injury replacements being signed over the course of the season yields a more accurate estimate of $3,525,000.
Putting the pieces together, without any additional signings or raises being handed out, the Hawks would finish the 2022 season with somewhere in the neighborhood of $7.5M of cap space, which is the number that will be used as the rollover amount.
Combining the $7.5M of rollover with the $38.75M of cap space OverTheCap.com projects the Seahawks to have in 2023 before accounting for rollover, the Hawks are looking at $46.25M of cap space for 2023.
However, that $46.25M does not include a full roster, as it covers just the 48 players the team currently has under contract for next season. Adding three players at the 2023 rookie minimum salary of $750,000 uses up $2.25M of the $46.25M, leaving $44M.
In addition, that $44M number does not account for the space that will be necessary in order to sign the numerous draft picks the team will have, particularly those in the first two rounds. Best case scenario in terms of using the least amount of cap space would obviously be if the Seahawks and Denver Broncos faced each other in the Super Bowl, which would put the Hawks drafting at 1.31, 1.32, 2.63 and 2.64 and require somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 of space. If both teams wind up drafting in the middle of the round a number closer to $7M would be required, while if both teams wind up drafting early, the number could in theory approach $15M.
Piecing all of these together, barring major changes in the coming months, Seattle is likely lookin at entering the 2023 offseason with somewhere around $35M of space available at the start of free agency.
What is important to note regarding that number is that while the team is slated to have $35M of cap space available, that number includes just a single quarterback under contract, Jacob Eason. That, of course, means that if Drew Lock or Geno Smith lights it up over the course of the 2022 season and the Hawks have to resort to using a franchise tag to prevent them from hitting free agency, which is projected by Over The Cap to carry a $31.497M cap hit in 2023.
In short, Seattle should have plenty of cap space in the offseason, but it could get used quickly because the cupboard is bare at the most important position.