The Hawkstorian - Salary Cap Update

.NET's Cap Guru has some great news...there's more available than we thought!

The good news is our available cap has gone UP since the last time I presented the totals. The team has been given an additional $325,000 that can be used for 2004. The nature of those additional dollars is unknown, but it just adds to the confusion of trying to pin down where any NFL team is with their salary cap.

The league-wide salary is reported at $80,582,000, but most of the 32 NFL teams have different limits depending on how many dollars have been carried over from the previous season. Until now, the Seahawks had carried over $2.3M from 2003, and now I’ve learned that amount has increased to $2.642M. As of right now, the Seahawks have a total of $83,224,175 to spend, with over $5.6M currently available. Even after signing their remaining draft picks and paying off-season workout bonuses the Seahawks will still have over $4 million unused.

Carry-over credits and charges are mostly due to “likely to be earned” incentives written into player’s deals that weren’t met. Isaiah Kacyvenski had $2.1M written into his deal late in 2003 that was basically impossible for him to reach (10 interceptions in a game or something weird like that). Because the incentive was put in late in the year, the rules automatically deem the incentive “LTBE”, and when it’s not reached, the dollars carry forward into the following year. In recent years this tool has been used as a way to manipulate unused cap space. The Minnesota Vikings rolled over $14M into 2004 this way, which allowed them to pay Antoine Winfield a front-loaded contract that no other team could match.

The opposite can also happen, when incentives that were previously considered “not likely to be earned” are in fact met, the team is then charged the amount the following season that couldn’t fit under that year’s cap. Carolina and Pittsburgh both had their 2004 caps reduced by over $3M this way.

The bottom line for the Seahawks off-season, which appears to be mostly finished, is the team isn’t concerned about leaving dollars on the table if the right players aren’t available. They want to keep cap dollars available in case opportunities are presented for trades or new deals. They don’t want the cap to force short-term deals with existing players that merely push charges into future years. In short, the team appears to have a talented roster with plenty of available cap room this year and in the years to come.

The challenge comes ahead: using those dollars to reach new deals with Matt Hasselbeck and the other talented potential free agents on the roster. Some have watched changes in the Seahawks front office and worried that we’re heading back to the era of irresponsible spending, but I don’t think that’s true at all. We spent big dollars on exactly one player, kept the core of the team together, and saved some for a rainy day. That’s how it should work. Well done, Seahawks.

If you have any more questions, or ideas for future topics, feel free to shoot me a message at Top Stories