Seahawks 2020 offseason plan: Getting Seattle back to the Super Bowl
By Geoff Shull
Establishing the salary cap and explaining how it works:
The salary cap is a tool that the NFL uses to ensure that all NFL teams, regardless of market size, have the same amount of money to spend on their rosters. The official number has yet to be announced for the 2020 NFL season, however, the assumption by many is that the salary cap will sit at roughly $203 million for this upcoming season.
Seattle currently has $157 million on the books for the 2020 season, this leaves $46 million in cap space. Before monies can be spent on free agents, extensions, etc. there are a few factors that need to be established.
First, we need to account for practice squad players, this will be roughly $1.5 million against the cap.
The second figure is what is considered an injury reserve safety net. Injuries are apart of the game, teams typically set aside $1.5-$4 million for this. I’ll set aside $2.5 million for the injury reserve.
The final number to deduct would be for this year’s draft, Over the cap estimates this will cost roughly $8 million. This removes $12 million in total from our initial salary cap number. Entering the new league year, Seattle will have $34 million in cap space to spend.
Explaining the difference between average value of contracts and the cap hit
One key thing I want to bring up before going into contracts is the difference between cap hits and the average value of a contract. An example: Tyrann Mathieu signed a 3-year, $42 million contract which was signed before the 2019 season
Mathieu contract breakdown:
Terms: 3 years, $42 million
Average value: $14 million
Cap hits by year: $6 million (2019), $16.3 million (2020), $19.7 million (2021).
The sum of all the cap hits totals the $42 million contract. However, the first year’s cap hit was significantly below the average salary of $14 million ($6 million).
Teams manipulate the cap hit like this for two reasons. First, this allows a team who believes they are in the Superbowl window to load up on talent in the first year and try to go for it all.
Second, with how quickly the salary cap and player salaries have increased, the team is betting the final year’s cap hit will be around average for that position by that time. So all in all, teams reduce the first-year cap hit dramatically so expect this going forward in the article.