The Seahawks created more than $5 million in salary cap space for 2017 by converting Doug Baldwin's salary for 2017 into a bonus.

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The Seahawks gave evidence Friday morning that they may be on the verge of making a big move or two as roster cutdowns loom, reportedly converting $6.975 million of receiver Doug Baldwin’s 2017 base salary of $7.75 million into a signing bonus.

As reported by Field Yates of ESPN, who broke the news, the move clears up $5.2 million in salary cap space for this season (converting the salary into bonus allows the Seahawks to spread that out over the life of Baldwin’s contract, which runs through the 2020 season. That increases Baldwin’s cap hits for each of the final three seasons by $1.7 million with each year carrying a hit of at least $11 million or more, according to

The move gives the Seahawks what has been reported to be about $13 million or so in available cap space for the 2017 season.

So what’s Seattle’s goal here?

Speculation has been that the Seahawks could be targeting a defensive lineman, a spot where the team took a hit when second-round pick Malik McDowell suffered injuries in an ATV accident that have left it in question if he will return this season, or when.

There has been a lot of talk about Sheldon Richardson of the New York Jets, who has been known on the trading block and has said the Seahawks wanted to trade for him but asked him to take a pay cut. Richardson has an $8.069 million cap hit this season in what is the last year of his contract. The 26-year old defensive end made the Pro Bowl in 2014 and has a skill set that would seem to replicate that of McDowell’s with the ability to play inside and outside.

But there figure to be other high-priced veterans who might become available, as well, and the Seahawks may have their eyes on other players or simply looking to be flexible with teams having to cut their rosters from 90 to 53 by Saturday at 1 p.m., making 1,184 players available all at once (and yes, the Seahawks could be looking for offensive linemen, as well).

There has also been speculation about Seattle being willing to trade receiver Jermaine Kearse and cornerback Jeremy Lane and clearing cap space could make it easier to take other players in return.

What is unlikely is that this is designed to give extensions to any of their own players, such as tight end Jimmy Graham, since an extension can be structured in a way to open up even more cap space this season. The timing also indicates this is a move designed to improve the roster for 2017 and not down the road.

Converting salary into bonus is a common technique around the NFL to open up immediate cap space. But it’s not something the Seahawks have done under general manager John Schneider to any major extent, which could indicate that the team either sees an uncommon opportunity or feels some unique urgency to make the most of this season with the heart of the team’s defense getting older — seven of the team’s projected defensive starters are 28 years or older.

Only adding to the intrigue of what also promises to be an especially interesting 24-48 hours or so.