Breaking down the salary cap & roster implications of the Diggs acquisition

Around 1:30PM PT today a report dropped that the Seattle Seahawks were trading for Quandre Diggs, the versatile defensive back from the Detroit Lions. A player capable of playing both free safety and nickel corner, the acquisition fills a major void on the Seahawks defense. Tedric Thompson, who could be potentially replaced by Diggs, has been absolutely pitiful this year, as he currently ranks as the worst safety in the NFL by ProFootballFocus. A 39.0 overall grade… dead last.

For those unaware, Diggs signed a 3 year/$18.6M extension with the Lions in September of 2018. A leader in both the locker room and a dynamic contributor on the field, it was a no-brainer extension for the team. However, things have obviously changed — as the Seahawks shipped a 2020 5th round pick in exchange for the safety + a 2021 7th rounder. All things considered, this is an extremely cheap return for a 26 year old, versatile playmaker.

In terms of the contract Seattle will be taking on, here’s how it breaks down per Over the Cap. 

When a player is traded with a signing bonus in his contract, the team who extended the player pays the entire signing bonus. So the $4.5M signing bonus, or the “Prorated Bonus” column above turns to $0 for the Seahawks. A reminder that signing bonuses are paid by the team offering the extension, typically soon after signing.

Thus Diggs’ cap hits for the Seahawks are as follows:

  • 2019: $1.66M (the reaming base salary for the 10 games the Seahawks will play him)
  • 2020: $5.2M ($5M base salary + $200K in offseason bonuses)
  • 2021: $5.55M ($5.35M base salary + $200K in offseason bonuses)

If for whatever reason the trade doesn’t pan out, the Seahawks could cut Diggs in 2020 and save $5.2M in cap space, incurring approximately $0 in dead money. However, this would be an unlikely situation. 

It’s important to note that both Lions fans and players are absolutely in shambles regarding this trade. Not only because they lost a great defensive player, but because the compensation was so weak. To be quite honest with you, I’m not sure why the Lions shipped him. They have more than enough cap space and it’s hard to believe they couldn’t obtain better value from anyone else in a trade.

Diggs, who was a pro-bowl alternate in 2018, has had a very lackluster 2019 season… but that could be due to an injury he’s been playing through. He’s not a blue-chip player, but he automatically joins the Seahawks defensive back group as their second best player. For a fifth-round pick, I’ll take that every day. I don’t see his acquisition as a short term bandaid, but rather as him a long-time contributor to this defense. 

The Seahawks have struggled majorly with missed tackles this year, and one of Diggs’ main traits is his tackling abilities. Additionally, his versatility is likely a major factor as to why the Seahawks traded for him. His ability to play all corner and safety spots will make him an extremely valuable asset to Seattle. Maybe he comes in and starts at nickel corner, allowing this team to spend less time in base defense. The transition to a base defense has been a major defensive shift for Seattle, and frankly, they’ve been getting shredded. Per Football Focus, the Seahawks currently rank 22nd in defensive DVOA. 

Overall I love this move for the Seahawks. John Schneider acquired a good (and maybe even great!) player for Seattle’s system. He is an immediate improvement at any position he plays. And the Seahawks were able to do it without leveraging their future. Great move.

Staff Writer
  1. Agree with everything you put. Well said, I cannot wait to see Diggs/Mcdougald/Blair all together. Should be dangerous.

  2. This cap analysis that Evan does is far superior to the superficial rantings of his “Coward……” screed. Much better use of bandwidth unless you place high value on the therapeutic nature of over reaction blathering.

    My instant reaction to the trade is, I like it. I’ll temper that with the observation that, as I write this early Wednesday morning, he likely has to pass a physical before the trade is completed. Many are calling this a steal value wise, but little talked about is the disclosure that Detroit shopped Diggs league wide for a week or two with very little interest returned. Said another way, JS paid market for the guy based on the reality there are only 31 potential bidders in the world and his bid was the best by comparison. IF all of this young man’s positive potential pans out he’s good value, maybe even great. I am struck by the idea that he’s going to cost us about what Justin Coleman might have had we kept him, and that much of what he’s being valued for is pretty much a replacement for Coleman. I can appreciate though that that is a hindsight observation. Coleman was not re-signed based on assumptions that looked reasonable at the moment they were made but have since not been realized. Small irony that Diggs comes from where Coleman landed.

    What we’ll get from him is all hope based, as are most choices. It will likely take a little time for his value to be realized as he’ll need to learn how to fit in the scheme and team. Fans aren’t usually very patient about that necessity, but we’ll see. What I’m particularly hopeful for is his impact on attitude. A Detroit writer used the descriptive in lamenting his loss, “Passionate Force”. He was a team captain, and the lamentations from his former team mates have been palpable and loudly voiced. Those are good signs to me. While I’m very much a Bobby Wagner fan, and appreciate the leadership he attempts, he is more of a stability style leader rather than a passionate one. We fans lament the passing of the LOB, and the passionate leader for that group, as well as the rest of the defense, was Kam Chancellor. He was a rare cat in his style of leadership. He not only lead by example, he also inspired in word. He was a useful guy for the coaching staff to utilize when needing to get a message to a player about performance on the field. Peer to peer often works better than top down. I feel that’s been missing since Kam left the field. Diggs has that kind of reputation, perhaps he’s a Mini-me to Kam’s big dog, we’ll see. I certainly hope so. This defense needs that right now to elevate the play. If he can do that, I don’t care what PFF grades him as. Intangibles can matter. Should he prove out in that manner maybe someday we can have a discussion about how this acquisition is superior for team play to the Silver Bullet type acquisition that a Jalen Ramsey represents.

  3. I said before the Thomas release/trade that The Hawks Db and safety areas are a weak as any team at the bottom. Our D line can’t stop the run and the linbacks are left to guard receivers because the DB’s can’t do it. Great trade wow but since Detroit is not drawing a large fan base it makes sense they drop payroll. Blame it on the fans Detroit. Support your team, win or lose, because if you don’t, this is what happens.

    1. Seahawks defensive tackles have been pretty stout against the run. Since you haven’t bothered watching the first seven games with any sense of sobriety, it’s the lack of a pass rush that has been missing, and it’s the lack of a pass rush that has caused the defensive secondary to be in this quandary. Ziggy Ansah & Jadeveon Clowney are not who we need!!!

  4. @ Rick Reeves, re, “support your team.” I would imagine that being a Lion’s fan is great training for sainthood.

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