The 2005 Salary Cap - Building a Mystery

"Reports from national and local media that the team has $30,000,000 in (cap) room are overstated...Once free agency starts, published figures will come down quite a lot. "

Given the multitudes of Free Agents and Restricted Free Agents the Seahawks must evaluate and attempt to sign this off-season (including Matt Hasselbeck, Shaun Alexander, Chike Okeafor. Itula Mili and Ken Lucas), we’re already hearing some “hard numbers” in regard to how much money the team has to spend under the salary cap. $30 million is the most common number that has been bandied about, but I’m coming up with about $24 million in available cap space using the following assumptions:

The 2005 cap is $85,000,000 (pending any further increase to the cap based on the NFL’s new TV deal).

All of Seattle’s Restricted Free Agents are tendered at $640,000, except for Rocky Bernard, who is tendered at $1,400,000. We did this with Floyd Womack last year, so the compensation would be a first-rounder.

Chad Brown is still on the team with a $4,200,000 base salary, although that obviously is subject to change.

About $300,000 in “dead cap” (money the team can’t spend allotted to players who have no role with the team) rolls from 2004 into 2005. The biggest culprit is the last year of Anton Palepoi’s contract at $243,750. Overall, the dead cap situation is pretty good…depending on what happens with Chad Brown. If the team cuts Brown outright, they would save $2,366,664 in cap space and his dead cap in ’05 would be $2,750,000. If we cut or trade Koren Robinson (before June 1) we would save only about $200,000 and his dead cap would be $2,333,336. Of course, Chad Brown and Koren Robinson stand on completely different sides of the “intangibles” argument.

Reports from national and local media that the team has $30,000,000 in room are overstated, because it doesn’t take into account tenders to the Restricted Free Agents. Also, teams usually have less than 51 players under contract until they sign street free agents, NFL Europe players, stuff like that. Meaningful figures don’t occur until all those things are counted, with isn’t until free agency starts. Once free agency starts, published figures will come down quite a lot.

And if we attach the “franchise tag” on any of our key guys, the remaining amount will wind up well below $20,000,000.


Franchise Figures for 2004

Look at the franchise figures for 2004 and you’ll notice two things.

One, MATT HASSELBECK WOULD COST AT LEAST $10 MILLION AS A FRANCHISE PLAYER. That would be “capicide”, putting Hasselbeck in the Peyton Manning stratosphere and tilting the financial balance in an irretrievable fashion.

Running backs in 2004 were only around $5 million, so even if that figure goes up to $5.5 or $6.0 million for 2005...given the value of tagging a guy at that price who ran for almost 1700 yards and scored 20 touchdowns, Shaun Alexander is looking like a pretty safe bet to get the slap.

Walter Jones would get a 20% raise if he were franchised, so that would be $8.2 million. They might tag Jones again, but they’d then lose leverage with Alexander, who at the very least would get some serious trade value. The team certainly does not underestimate Jones’ value, but Jones’ (and his agent’s) history of inability to sign a long-term deal, the team’s own constraints and some level of option anxiety may lead them in a different direction

Grant Wistrom has a base salary in ’05 of $2M, so he really can’t be re-negotiated. Players who might be cut are Damien Robinson and Jerry Rice, but the savings wouldn’t be huge for either of those guys.

What we know is that the Seattle Seahawks have a lot of catch-up to play in the offseason. What we still do not know is precisely how much scratch they’ll have to do what needs doing. Until we do know, it is foolish to speculate as to the accuracy of any dollar figure you read or hear. The “hard numbers” just aren’t hard yet.

"The Hawkstorian" writes about Seahawks history, the salary cap, and many other things for Seahawks.NET on an alarmingly regular basis. You can reach him at Top Stories