Updated Feb 1, 2014 - 1:52 pm
Seattle Seahawks Blog
Thursday, February 27, 2014 @ 9:33am
By Danny O'Neil
Rosetta Stone doesn't teach NFL free agency, which is unfortunate.
It's a language unto itself with its own vocabulary of terms like dead money and proration, which distill down what is some pretty darn complicated financial realities for NFL teams under the league's salary cap.
And if you find yourself wondering just what it means to take a cap hit, well, it has nothing to do with headwear and you're advised to keep reading for your beginner's glossary to both free agency and salary-cap accounting.
Salary cap: It has been around 20 years in the NFL, and it is an annual limit on how much a team is allowed to spend on its roster. Last year, the salary cap was at just over $123 million. The cap for 2014 has not been announced, but it's project to be more than $132 million, a significant increase.
Cap cost: This is how much a player counts against a team's salary cap in a given year. This is not the same as a player's salary. The cap cost is actually composed of the player's base salary in that given year plus any bonuses earned or paid plus the prorated portion of the signing bonus he received at the time of the contract signing. What's that you ask? We'll explain next.
Used in a sentence: Believe it or not, tight end Zach Miller had the highest cap cost of any Seahawk in 2013.
Proration: A signing bonus is just what it sounds like, a bonus paid upon the signing of the deal. However, while that bonus is paid all at once, the cap cost (see above) of the signing bonus can be averaged over the length of the contract or five years, whichever is less. The result is that while a player receives the signing bonus all at once, the cap cost is extended over as many as five years into the future. And if that player is released before the end of that contract? Well, the portion of the signing bonus that has not been counted against the salary cap must be accounted for under the salary cap, often resulting in a cap hit (keep reading).
Cap savings: The amount of money a team will save against the cap by releasing a player. This is determined by taking the cap cost and subtracting the proration.
Used in a sentence: Releasing wide receiver Sidney Rice would result in a cap savings in 2014 of $7.3 million, which is the cap cost under his current deal ($9.7 million) minus the two-year pro-rated portion of his signing bonus ($2.4 million).
Cap hit: The amount of proration that must be accounted for if a given player is released. This is the portion of the signing bonus that has already been paid to the player – sometimes years before – but has yet to be counted against the team's salary cap.
Used in a sentence: If the Seahawks do in fact release defensive end Red Bryant, it will result in a $3 million cap hit. His signing bonus was $5 million, paid in 2012. That signing bonus was prorated over the five years of the contract, meaning that $1 million of that counted against the salary cap each of the past two seasons. There's $3 million left that must be counted against the cap.
Dead money: Same thing as the cap hit only this term is used in the past tense to refer to the cap cost consumed by players who are no longer on the roster. Releasing Bryant would entail a cap hit of $3 million. Once he is released, that would become considered dead money.
Got it? Good. Let's try a new sample
Tight end Zach Miller's current contract has a cap cost of $7 million in 2014. That number is the sum of his 2014 base salary ($4.8 million salary), unspecified bonuses ($1.2 million) and the prorated amount of his $5 million signing bonus ($1 million). The cap savings of releasing Miller would be $5 million, the dead money $2 million.
Well, that covers the subtraction of roster moves. Now, here's the dictionary for additions:
Free agent: A player unsigned for the upcoming league year. Free agents come predominantly in two flavors: restricted and unrestricted.
Used in a sentence: The Seahawks have a number of unrestricted free agents, including offensive starters Golden Tate and Breno Giacomini. Doug Baldwin is the team's top restricted free agent.
Unrestricted free agent: Just like it sounds. There are no restrictions on which teams the player can negotiate with, and nothing to prevent that player from signing elsewhere in the form of a right to match or compensation.
Used in a sentence: A player must have four accrued seasons in the league to qualify for unrestricted free agency.
Restricted free agent: A free agent with three accrued seasons in the league, who is free to negotiate with other teams with a few caveats. His original team has the right to match the terms of his agreement with the new team, thereby retaining the player. If the original team declines to match the terms of the new team's offer, the original team is entitled to compensation from the new team. The level of that compensation will depend on the level of qualifying offer that is made.
Qualifying offer: The one-year contract offer made to a player with three accrued seasons, thereby making him a restricted free agent. This entitles the team – at the very least – to the right of first of refusal to match the contract terms a restricted free agent agrees to with another team. If the original team matches, it retains the player. If the original team declines to match, it is entitled to compensation. The level of that compensation depends on what level qualifying offer the player received. There are three different tender levels.
Original-round tender: This entails a one-year offer of $1.389 million, and entitles the team to a draft pick in the same round the player was selected.
Second-round tender: A one-year contract offer of $2.124 million entitles the original team to a second-round pick from the team that signs away a restricted free agent.
First-round tender: A one-year contract offer of $3.023 million entitles the original team to a first-round pick as compensation.
Used in a sentence: Because wide receiver Doug Baldwin was undrafted, an original-round tender would entitle Seattle to no compensation should he leave for another team. Therefore, he will almost certainly be tendered at one of the two highest levels.
Offer sheet: This is the term sheet a restricted free agent signs with another team. The original team then has seven days to decide to match the offer sheet and retain the player. Restricted free agents can sign an offer sheet up until May 2, after which they can not sign with anyone but the original team.
Franchise tag: This amounts to the most restrictive form of free agency. A team has the option of applying a franchise tag to one player during the two-week period from Feb. 17 to March 3. That tag entitles the player to a one-year contract that is either 110 percent of his previous year's salary or the average of the top five salaries at his position, whichever is greater. A player who is designated with a franchise tag can negotiate with other teams, however, if he signs an offer sheet, which his original team has the right to match. If it doesn't, it is entitled two first-round picks from the new team.
Used in a sentence: The Seahawks have not used their franchise tag in any of the previous three seasons and are not expected to this offseason, so don't worry about it.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 @ 4:42pm
By Brady Henderson
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been a busy man since helping Seattle win Super Bowl XLVIII earlier this month, and after making the rounds on various talk shows he's joining the Texas Rangers at spring training in Arizona.
The Rangers announced Wednesday that Wilson, a Rule-5 Draft pick by Texas this year, is expected to work out with the big-league squad on Monday and suit up for a Cactus League game that afternoon in Surprise, Ariz. It's not clear whether Wilson will play in the game, though it seems unlikely.
Wilson spent two seasons as a second baseman in the Rockies' minor-league system and was selected by Texas in the Rule-5 Draft during the winter meetings in December. The team has said it values the message Wilson can send to the organization's younger players.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 @ 1:05pm
Brandon Browner is fighting for his NFL future whether or not that future includes the Seahawks.
In fact, it most likely won't. Browner had been benched for more than a quarter during a home game in October, and after a groin injury was passed first by Walter Thurmond and then Byron Maxwell on the depth chart.
A lawsuit is expected to be filed next week on behalf of Brandon Browner challenging the cornerback's indefinite supsension from the NFL. (AP)
Just whether – and more importantly to Browner, when – he is able to do that may be left for the courts to decide.
The NFL suspended Browner indefinitely on Dec. 18, 2013 for violating the league's policy on substance abuse. Under the league's collective bargaining agreement, he is not able to apply for reinstatement for one year, which will be the final month of the 2014 season.
It's a punishment Browner will seek to challenge in court in a lawsuit that his agent pointed to back in December when the suspension was announced. That suit is expected to be filed next week in Colorado.
The timing of the lawsuit is significant, and Peter Schaffer – Browner's agent – told ProFootballTalk.com it will include a request for a preliminary injunction to allow Browner to be considered a free agent on March 11, free to sign with any team, pending the resolution of the case.
Browner will be taking legal issue with the arbitration process under the NFL's collective-bargaining agreement, arguing the league is taking into account drug-test appointments Browner is alleged to have missed when he was not employed in the league.
Here's what we know about his case:
Browner entered the league in 2005, an undrafted rookie out of Oregon State signed by the Broncos. He spent that season on injured reserve and was released the following year before the season began. At some point in his time with the Broncos, he was entered into the league's substance-abuse program.
Browner did not play with an NFL team in 2006, and in 2007, he played the first of four seasons in the Canadian Football League. He returned to the NFL in 2011 when he was signed by the Seahawks and made the Pro Bowl that year.
Browner was suspended for the final four regular-season games in 2012 under the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. In the nine days before that suspension was announced, there were reports Browner was subjected to more frequent tests because he was in the league's substance-abuse program for a violation dating back to his time with Denver.
In November 2013, it was reported on the league's official website Browner would face another suspension for violating the policy on performance-enhancing drugs. This report was later corrected to indicate that the suspension would be under the substance-abuse policy.
Then came the Dec. 18 announcement – with two regular-season games left – that Browner was suspended indefinitely under the substance-abuse program.
Generally, a first violation of the substance-abuse policy does not result in a suspension, but rather enrollment in the substance-abuse program. Once in the program, a second violation usually results in a four-game suspension with a third violation constituting an indefinite ban.
Browner received no suspension under the substance-abuse program until the indefinite ban was announced, and Browner will challenge the validity of the league's procedure in counting a missed test(s) as a violation of the substance-abuse program.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 @ 3:30pm
By Brady Henderson
Pete Carroll signed a five-year contract to be the Seahawks' head coach before the 2010 season, which would make 2014 the final year of the deal. It's hard to imagine Carroll, coming off a Super Bowl victory, entering the season as a so-called lame duck coach, which begs an obvious question that was asked during the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil.
"I'm sitting in great shape," Pete Carroll said when asked after the season about his contract situation. (AP)
Tory asked when the Seahawks will give Carroll an extension.
O'Neil: Great question. But that really is more of a question of how long he intends to coach more than anything else. He's not going to work anywhere else in the NFL, is he? I mean, really? He has said all along that this is about building something and seeing how far you're going to take it. And he works for the richest owner in the league? It would not surprise me if he has an extension without it ever being reported or announced or any to-do about it, much like John Schneider a year ago.
John asked why the Seahawks don't give offensive-line coach Tom Cable and other assistants enough money to deter them from leaving for other jobs, thereby ensuring continuity.
O'Neil: Coaching salaries don't cost against the cap, but you also don't want to stop a guy from getting a job elsewhere. The best way to develop a staff is to show your team, your program as a chance for an ambitious coach to further and develop his career. And if you think it's better to have the same staff stay in place year after year (locked down, so to speak), I ask you whether Mike Holmgren's coaching staffs were better in Green Bay when he had guys like Andy Reid and Jon Gruden and Mike Sherman on his staff or when he was in Seattle. That's not because the Seahawks "locked down" their assistant coaches, but because Holmgren's ambitious and able coaches had moved on.
Gantiz asked if O'Neil anticipates the Seahawks will keep tight end Zach Miller, whose contract has led some to believe he will be released in a cost-saving move.
O'Neil: Until I see otherwise. I don't want to assume he's gone. I think there are discussions taking place as to the specifics of his contract, but there's been no whisper of a take-it-or-leave-it crossroads.
John asked if tight end Anthony McCoy would be worth bringing back next season after missing 2013 with an Achilles injury.
O'Neil: Yes, he most certainly is worth bringing back, and he could be a great No. 3 tight end for the team. He's a better blocker than Luke Willson. There's nothing to lead you to believe that Anthony McCoy will become the starter.
John asked for an update on cornerback Tharold Simon, who missed his rookie season with a foot injury.
O'Neil: The word was not necessarily good. He had an issue with his foot last year, and it sounds like he may have a similar issue with his other foot now, according to coach Pete Carroll's final press conference.
kobe berg asked why O'Neil thinks former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be a bust in the NFL.
O'Neil: Two things: I believe he's going to prove waaaaay more susceptible to turnovers when he improvises as opposed to Russell Wilson, who is able to create outside the scope of the play while still avoiding taking too many chances. The other thing is that I think that Manziel's headstrong desire to be the focal point is going to impede his ability to respond to coaching and attempts to temper his risk-taking.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 @ 1:30pm
Wilson, making a round of national media appearances Tuesday, was asked by the hosts of Fox News' "Fox and Friends" show about the controversy surrounding Sam, the Missouri defensive end seeking to become the first openly gay player in the NFL.
"When I step in the huddle for the Seattle Seahawks, my focus is on winning football games and our goal is one goal and that's to win the Super Bowl. And every time we step onto the field that's our mindset," Wilson said. "So when I step into the huddle, I don't care whether my offensive lineman is white, black. If my receiver is Jewish or Christian. That has no effect on me," said Wilson.
Wilson called Sam "courageous" for coming out, and said if he joined the Seahawks, the team would treat him with "utmost respect just like everybody else."
"You have a lot of respect for somebody that can do that," Wilson said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 @ 10:16am
By Brady Henderson
The Seahawks and 49ers have plenty in common, from the division they reside in to the way their teams are defined by strong defenses, physical running backs and young, athletic quarterbacks.
Where the similarities end is in the harmony between their respective head coaches and front offices. While there has been no indication that Pete Carroll and John Schneider have been in anything but lockstep while molding the Seahawks into Super Bowl champions, recent reports have characterized the relationship between their 49ers counterparts, head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke, as turbulent and potentially untenable.
From Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com:
The men are barely speaking, I'm told, and almost all communication is through email. Harbaugh also has a strained relationship with team president Paraag Marathe, sources said, and he has clashed with many within the organization. It could prove untenable. If anything, the impression I got this week was that the situation there is actually much worse than how it has been portrayed in the media, and helps explain the delay in giving a new deal to the coach, who has two years left on a contract he has outperformed.
That's the who and the what. Those theorizing about the when and the why have cited personnel disagreements dating back to the 2011 draft, Harbaugh's first with the 49ers, and what one 49ers writer, Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, described as the coach's proclivity for chaos and inability to function without discord regardless of those around him.
Mike Sando of ESPN.com, a guest on Monday's edition of "Bob and Groz" on 710 ESPN Seattle, said the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl and going through the 49ers to do so inflamed matters, helping explain why such dysfunction could exist on a team that has had so much on-field success.
"It's just amazing to me," Sando said. "Over the last three years they've won 41 games, counting the playoffs. No one's won more. They're tied with New England. And you're having issues? That's why I really think the Seattle component is a big part of it."
In the video above, Bob Stelton and Dave Grosby share their thoughts on the 49ers saga and how different it appears to the harmony in Seattle's front office.
Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 2:25pm
Wide receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant will reportedly be the first Seahawks to be released in cost-saving moves. They likely won't be the last.
Releasing Zach Miller would clear up a significant amount of salary-cap space while leaving Seattle thin at tight end. (AP)
Clemons, Miller on the chopping block? Clayton expects defensive end Chris Clemons and tight end Zach Miller – if he doesn't agree to a reduced salary – to also be released, which combined with the releases of Rice and Bryant would clear around $24 million of salary-cap space in 2014. Clayton thinks Seattle could then give defensive lineman Michael Bennett, a pending unrestricted free agent, a new deal averaging $7 million or $8 million a season.
Bryant could be back. Bryant just completed the second year of a five-year, $35 million deal he signed before the 2012 season. Clayton thinks the good will Seattle engendered by giving Bryant an above-market deal could help him get over the hard feelings of being released, potentially allowing him to return on a reduced deal that pays him around $4 million per season.
Replacing Miller. No other Seahawks tight end who is under contract for next season has much – if any – starting experience, so releasing Miller would likely put Seattle in the market for a starter. One name Clayton mentioned was Jermichael Finley assuming he makes a full recovery from the season-ending neck injury he suffered in 2013. Finley, 26, has spent all six of his NFL seasons with Green Bay.
Cap increasing? Clayton said some projections have the 2014 salary cap increasing to $132 million, about $9 million more than it was in 2013. While that would give Seattle more flexibility to re-sign Bennett and wide receiver Golden Tate, might it also be a double-edged sword in that it increases the price tag free agents place on themselves knowing teams have more money to spend?
Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 1:06pm
Bruce Irvin's 2013 season produced glimpses of his potential as an outside linebacker but also some uncertainty about whether he'll stay there.
From the sounds of it, he will.
Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn says he likes Bruce Irvin's potential at strong-side linebacker. (AP)
Irvin sure looked like it during the Seahawks' Week-8 win over St. Louis when he finished with an interception and a strip sack to go along with nine tackles, the second most on the team. He had switched from defensive end and then served a suspension at the beginning of the season, and what was only his fourth game as a strong-side linebacker showed the type of impact he can have when his athleticism is put to use in the open field.
The rest of the season wasn't as encouraging, though, as Irvin didn't record another sack or an interception and finished with more than four tackles only once over the final eight regular-season games. By the end of the season he was playing mainly on early downs and leaving the field when Seattle subbed in its nickel defense. He was drafted 15th overall for his ability to rush the passer, and he went so long without recording a sack that merely sniffing one in the NFC title game made him feel like he had – in his words – a newborn child.
Irvin, despite some concern about his ability to hold up against bigger offensive tackles, did lead all rookies in sacks with eight in 2012 – and that was in a situational role in which he didn't even start. And with the futures of Michael Bennett and Chris Clemons uncertain, that led to some speculation that a move back to defensive end could be in Irvin's future.
But Quinn said it isn't and cited the room for improvement from Irvin, who after all has only spent three-quarters of a season at the position.
"He's got all the stuff that we look for in our outside 'backer with speed and length and he can set the edge, he can rush," Quinn said. "So I thought for his first time playing linebacker he did a terrific job, and you know that it's only going to get better from here. So we feel like he's in the right spot and we couldn't be more excited to see how far we can take him."
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.
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