Let’s cut through all the introductory etiquette and get right to the point: the Seattle Seahawks have an offensive line problem. More specifically, they have an offensive tackle problem. After what seemed like a historically awful offensive performance, the Hawks will undoubtedly be evaluating all of their options. On top of that, Bradley Sowell will be out several weeks with an MCL sprain. That leaves undrafted free agent Goerge Fant, a former college basketball player, to slide in at left tackle and protect one the franchise’s most coveted players. Well, this should be interesting.

Two names floating around as potential trade targets at left tackle are 49er Joe Staley and Joe Thomas from the Browns. Both, at a minimum, are legitimately good to great left tackles and would be immediate upgrades on the offensive line. I’m not going to argue whether they should or should not make this trade, but rather just assume that you want it to happen. Let’s break down the financials.


Step 1: How much do the Seahawks have in cap space? 

Right now, according to my own spreadsheets, I have the Hawks with $7.8M in true cap space — give or take a million. Many financial aspects that determine cap space are publicly unavailable to us – so it’s important to give some wiggle room. I’m mainly referring to two things here: 1) LTBE (likely-to-be-earned) incentives in player contracts that are accounted for at the beginning of the year and 2) Injury settlements.

With the information available to us, the Seahawks likely have around $7.8M in true cap space (and that includes IR and all that fun stuff).


Step 2: How much would Joe Staley or Joe Thomas cost?

Let’s start with 49ers’ left tackle Joe Staley.

Staley is currently in year three of a six year contract worth $44,650,000. His contract runs through 2018 and actually dips in cap hits the last two years. So…let’s assume he’s traded to the Hawks. The signing bonus was already paid by the 49ers so Seattle is off the hook for that. For 2016, that leaves a $5,400,000 base salary and a $500,000 roster bonus (the workout bonus was already paid). That totals a $5.9M cap hit for 2016. However, the base salary and his roster bonus are paid on a divided weekly basis. And Joe has already played seven games.

Divide $5.9M by 17 weeks of work and Staley is making $347,058 a week. But remember, he’s already played for seven weeks and Seattle would only be paying him for ten more games in 2016.

Multiply ten weeks of work by his weekly pay ($347,058) and you get Staley’s cap hit against the Seahawks for the 2016 season: $3,470,580. Remember, Seattle has around $7.8M in cap space for 2016. The Hawks have around double the amount of cap room needed to fit his contract under the 2016 cap. In 2017, he would carry a $8.95M cap charge against the Hawks. In 2018 and 2019, he would cost the Hawks only $5.5M against the cap in each respective year. Definitely doable.


Now let’s move onto Joe Thomas.


If the left tackle were to be traded from Cleveland, he would carry a $9.3M cap hit against the Seahawks in 2016. Remember though, we’re not paying him for a full seventeen weeks. He’s already played seven games. Divide his $9.3M cap hit by 17 weeks of pay and you get $547,058 a week. Multiply that weekly pay number by ten remaining weeks of play and you get Thomas’ 2016 cap hit against the Seahawks: $5,470,580. In 2017 and 2018, he would carry cap hits of $10M against Seattle in each respective year.

Now remember, the Hawks have around $7.8M in 2016 cap space. Based off the over $2M difference in room and 2016 salary for Thomas, it is my understanding that the Seahawks could slide his contract under the 2016 cap without any alterations to any other contracts.


Step 3: Let’s review the conclusions we just came to 

The Hawks have $7.8M in cap space. LT Joe Staley would cost $3,470,580 for the remainder of the 2016 season (financially feasible). On the other hand, LT Joe Thomas would cost $5,470,580 for the remainder of the 2016 season (also financially feasible). The main notable difference between these two player contracts is their cap hits in future years. The last two years of the Staley contract would cost Seattle only $5.5M in each year – opposed to the $10M price tag in the last two years on Thomas.

Both players could come into Seattle and they’re wouldn’t need to be any major shakeups to any other player contracts. In my opinion, it all comes down to their price. Would Cleveland part with Thomas for a 2nd round pick? If so, I hope John is on the phone right now. On the other hand, the 49ers are reportedly putting a first round price tag on Staley. That seems a bit steep. One thing I know for sure: this Seattle defense might be just as good as the 2013 unit. Let’s not waste the primes of these defensive stars.

8 Responses

  1. Glaze

    The one problem with both of them would be the future cap hit. I suppose we could trade them restructure to give up front that’s prorated and lower the year after year cap hits. The issue is that we have several strong contributors at the end of their rookie deals or ones needing their 3rd contracts. It’s a tough decision on where to spend the money and who on the roster is expendable considering their cap hit. I’m glad it’s not my job.


    I agree, I like the Staley deal even at the cost of a first round pick, if he helps us where we want to be, pick #32 is basically a second anyway!

  3. Mike B'hamster

    The possibility of acquiring one of these two all pro veteran left tackles to address the weakest, most vulnerable, and most important position on the current ‘hawk roster, is an opportunity which has to be considered and explored by JS. I,have no doubt that he is all over this and would not hesitate to pull the trigger if it is feasible in terms of the draft pick surrendered, and the financial viability. I really hope this happens, the sooner the better!

  4. Erebus

    I agree that we should trade for one, but you contradicted yourself Evan. You started off by saying you weren’t going to argue whether they should or should not make the trade, but then you closed by arguing for a trade.

  5. Kazinski

    Pete and John don’t seem to value 1st round picks that highly and do a great job with later round picks, so I wouldn’t mind a 1st rounder for Staley, IF they can get another lower round pick back in return. Say Staley and a 3rd or 4th rounder would be about right.

  6. Frank

    You basically had me at Hello. Get her done. Any Joe will do.

  7. Mike

    People need to also understand that there will be more cap room next year too. Big name stars at high cap hits will be gone and the cap will go up again. Either one will fit for 2016 and going forward. Now it’s time to figure out which one is truly better and move on the player. I think we also could feasibly move for another OT (RT) under these conditions of the cap.