Updated Feb 1, 2014 - 1:52 pm
Seattle Seahawks Blog
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 5:36pm
By Brent Stecker
The NFL reportedly notified teams in a memo Friday that the 2014 salary cap will be $133 million.
ProFootballTalk first reported the news Friday.
The number is an even $10 million hike from last season's cap, which is a significant increase compared to years past. In 2013, the cap was raised by just $2.7 million from 2012's $120.3 million, while 2011's cap was set at $120 million.
The bump is good news for both the Super Bowl champion Seahawks and their free agents, as it provides more space for the team in its attempt to re-sign players like defensive end Michael Bennett and wide receiver Golden Tate, and those players will likely see bigger offers across the board from interested teams.
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 12:12pm
By Brady Henderson
Earlier this month, Red Bryant was celebrating the Super Bowl victory that he helped deliver as the captain of the defense that led Seattle to its first championship.
He's now an ex-Seahawk, released Friday along with wide receiver Sidney Rice as the team announced moves that were reportedly coming.
Defensive end Red Bryant, who was released by the Seahawks Friday, has played only for Seattle since he was drafted by the team in 2008. (AP)
"We want to thank both Red and Sidney for their effort, commitment and contribution to the Seattle Seahawks over the last few years," general manager John Schneider said in a press release. "These are extremely tough decisions, but we wanted to give them a head start on free agency. We wish them well in the future."
Consider this the latest reminder of how harsh the business side of the NFL can be. While Rice's release was a predictable end to his Seahawks career given his high salary and durability issues, parting ways with Bryant – their vocal leader and a key member of their top-ranked defense – is the type of gut-wrenching move that is often necessary in a league with a salary cap.
"It's a replacement business," Bryant said before the Super Bowl when asked about teammate Clinton McDonald's financially-motivated release at the end of training camp, "and what he experienced is something that we're all going to experience."
Releasing Bryant and Rice clears up at least $12.8 million in salary cap space for 2014, possibly more depending on how they are designated. Because they were released, Bryant and Rice are free to negotiate and sign with other teams before free agency begins next month.
According to the NFL's transaction report, Rice was released with a failed-physical designation as he is coming off a season that was cut short by a torn ACL, the latest injury in a career that has been marred by them. At times during his three seasons with the Seahawks he showed the talent that enticed Seattle to give him a five-year, $41 million deal, but he had a hard time staying on the field as the injuries continued to pile up.
Rice, 27, was scheduled to count $9.7 million against Seattle's salary cap in 2014, a prohibitive amount for a player who had missed 15 of 48 regular-season games since 2011.
"Thanks for a wonderful experience!" read part of a post on Rice's Instagram account Friday.
Bryant, 29, was a Seahawk through and through. A fourth-round pick in 2008, he was one of four players who predated the 2010 arrivals of Schneider and coach Pete Carroll. He's the son-in-law of Jacob Green, a member of the Seahawks' Ring of Honor. And as a 325-defensive end, he embodied the unusual way in which Seattle had assembled the defense that led the league in scoring the past two seasons.
Bryant began his career as a defensive tackle, and his his transition to a run-stopping end was so successful that he became a defensive captain and earned a five-year, $35 million contract in 2012. But he was scheduled to count $8.5 million against the 2014 cap, which Seattle apparently deemed too high a figure for a player who was limited to early downs.
Friday, February 28, 2014 @ 8:34am
By Danny O'Neil
A Super Bowl team generally spends the offseason trying to avoid subtractions.
The difference in Seattle is the Seahawks appear poised to make them.
Receiver Sidney Rice and defensive end Red Bryant have been released while speculation continues regarding defensive end Chris Clemons and tight end Zach Miller.
The possibility that a championship team would lose key contributors is not in itself all that surprising. A year ago, the Ravens had to deal with the departures of defensive starters Ed Reed, Paul Kruger and Danell Ellerbe not to mention the retirement of Ray Lewis.
The fact Seattle's first personnel losses may be self-inflicted is a fact both a bit startling and instructive about the Seahawks' approach to their roster.
In the NFL, teams spend years trying to configure a championship roster, whether it's searching for a franchise quarterback or outfitting that franchise quarterback with sufficient offensive firepower or building a defense that is capable of wading hip deep into the playoffs. Once a team manages to find that championship concoction it does everything it can to hang on to as many core members of the group for as long as possible.
This is the "Window of Opportunity" approach, which can be boiled down to the belief that a specific nucleus of players – the quarterback being the most important component – constitutes the bedrock for a championship team. The DNA, so to speak. And once you find that specific nucleus, you hold on to as many members of it for as long as possible in an effort to win as many games and titles as possible while that nucleus is intact.
If this was the approach Seattle was taking, then Bryant wouldn't be going anywhere. He's a leader on this team, someone who has started all but one game for the Seahawks over the previous three seasons and played well in 2013 as a captain on a defense that allowed the fewest points in the league for the second consecutive year.
But Bryant is also an early-down run-stuffer on a defensive line that features frequent rotations, and his current contract would count $8.5 million against the cap. Seattle could afford a higher price the past two seasons when so much of its nucleus was on the more affordable rookie contracts. It's a little more difficult to digest that cost if Seattle wants to re-sign defensive lineman Michael Bennett – a free agent – or extend the contracts of All-Pro defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.
As is the case with Red Bryant at defensive end, Seattle doesn't have an heir apparent at tight end should the team release starter Zach Miller in a cost-saving move. (AP)
There's no heir apparent on hand for Bryant. Jesse Williams is a big-bodied defensive lineman, but he has yet to play a down in the NFL after being drafted by Seattle a year ago, and there's no guarantee he'll be back. Greg Scruggs was emerging at the end of his rookie season in 2012, and he's currently up to 310 pounds, but he's also coming back from a torn knee ligament that kept him out all of last season.
Seattle doesn't have any ready alternatives at tight end, either. Miller has started for three years and was the team's top paid player in 2013. He was on the field for 58 of the team's 60 offensive snaps in the Super Bowl, the leading man at one of the barest positions on Seattle's roster. Luke Willson was one of Seattle's most productive rookies last season, but as effective a receiving threat as he may be, he's not anywhere close to the blocker Miller is, and may never be. Anthony McCoy is a free agent, coming off a torn Achilles, but even when healthy, he was inconsistent during his first three seasons as a Seahawk.
So what's a championship team to do? Couldn't blame it for holding on for dear life to veteran leaders like Bryant and Miller especially given the lack of depth at those positions. And maybe that's what Seattle will do, trying to extend the window of opportunity by preserving players who have constituted the core of its rise to the top of the league.
Or maybe Seattle will look at its team – and more specifically its payroll – with an eye toward the future as opposed to strictly preserving what it can from its nucleus.
Subtraction is a part of life in the NFL, especially for successful teams. The difference in Seattle's case, the Seahawks appear to be inflicting some of those losses upon themselves in the expectation it will help down the road.
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.
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