Bobby Wagner signed an amazing deal last night to remain a Seahawk for the next four years. Repercussions of that signing, coupled with the Russell Wilson signing, started to hit this morning as starting defensive tackle Tony McDaniel was released. The move saves $3M in cap space. John Schneider and Pete Carroll may not be done.
The Seahawks did not have to release McDaniel now. They could have kept him around until the end of camp to maximize their options. Instead, they did what great front offices do and made a player-friendly decision to give McDaniel the maximum amount of time to find the right fit. He will sign somewhere quickly and get significant snaps for another team.
He was a key part of the 2013 defense, and made a serious impression in camp that year after coming to Seattle as a free agent from Miami. His play dropped off quite a bit last season after signing a new two-year deal. He is a solid run defender, but ceased to be a true difference maker last year.
Ahtyba Rubin likely slides into the starting lineup as the base defense 3-technique in place of McDaniel. Many thought the heavy Rubin was brought on to hedge against Brandon Mebane at the nose, but as I wrote in my Seahawks Spotlight article on Rubin, he is better suited to play the 3-technique.
Other shoes that could drop
Teams generally like to keep at least $3M in cap room for injury signings during the season. McDaniel just saved them that amount on the cap. Should the team need to create additional cap room, they have a few different options.
First would be a restructure of Mebane’s deal. That would still guarantee him the money, and even give him the money this year, but converting salary to signing bonus means the team can prorate the bonus over the years of deal. For example, if Mebane took a new deal that changes his $5.5M salary for this season down to $1M, and was given a $4.5M signing bonus, the team would save half of that signing bonus on this year’s cap.
The downside of doing things like that is it just kicks the can down the road. That adds $2.25M to next years cap.
Another option would be to release Jermaine Kearse. He is due $2.3M, and there would be no dead money if he was cut. The Seahawks have a lot of promising receivers, and there is almost no chance the team brings Kearse back next year, so they could decide to accelerate that process. If that happens, it probably would be a move they make near the end of camp when they know more about how the other receivers are playing and whether Paul Richardson needs to start the year on the PUP.
Finally, an unlikely move, but one to at least think about if they need the room is signing Russell Okung to an extension. Okung has a $7.2M cap number this year and a $4.8M base salary. The could sign him to a new deal, tear up this current year, and spread out his cap hit over the life of the new deal.
The assumption has been Okung is gone after this year, but I am starting to wonder if that is true. The team could gain significant cap space next year (~$9M) if Marshawn Lynch chooses to retire after this year. They also get Percy Harvin’s $7.2M dead money off the books, and the cap goes up. If the team wants Okung around, and I still don’t see a path to replacing him with a player of close to equivalent talent, the could decide to pull the trigger this year. They do not need to do it, but if they want the extra cap room for some other purpose, they could take the plunge.