Denver's attempt to acquire Colin Kaepernick could set in motion a decision on what to do with left tackle Ryan Clady, a player some have thought might pique the interest of the Seahawks if he becomes available.
The news over the weekend that Denver is attempting to acquire quarterback Colin Kaepernick from the San Francisco 49ers could also have implications for a player some have thought might pique the interest of the Seahawks if he were to become available — Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady.
It has been discussed often during the off-season that the Broncos might be looking to trade Clady, who is entering the final two years of a five-year contract signed in 2013 that includes salary cap hits of $10.1 million in 2016 and $10.6 million in 2017, or release him if a trade partner cannot be found.
Denver appears to to have more incentive and urgency now to try to trade and/or release Clady so it can fit in the contract of Kaepernick, a deal that is reportedly being reworked, with the trade not official until terms are agreed on.
There is no way the Seahawks are taking Clady’s cap hits for the next two years as they are in his current deal, so Seattle wouldn’t be involved in a trade.
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But few other teams would likely want to do that, either, which is what has led to talk to that Broncos might have to release Clady — not only is the salary an issue but so is the fact that Clady comes with some question marks despite having been named to four Pro Bowls in his career. The former Boise State star missed the 2015 season with knee ligament injury (ACL) and also missed all but two games of the 2013 season with a Lisfranc injury and will turn 30 in September.
Denver could save as much as $9.5 million against the cap in 2016 by releasing or trading him after June 1, or $8.9 million if he is released or traded prior to June 1.
If Clady is released then the Seahawks would be a logical team to want to at least investigate signing him. Seattle general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll each said late last month at the NFL league meetings that the Seahawks would continue to look for ways to improve on the offensive line.
But Seattle doesn’t appear to be in a really great spot to do a lot to bring in Clady.
According to Overthecap.com, the Seahawks have about $7 million in cap space remaining for 2016.
But the Seahawks will need about $2.2 million or so to pay their draft picks, according to OvertheCap.com (a number that could obviously change depending on if the Seahawks make trades, etc., but something that still has to be accounted for).
The Seahawks could acquire some extra cap space for this year if they wait until after June 1 to release Marshawn Lynch or place him on the reserve/retired list, which would allow Seattle to spread out his $5 million dead cap hit for 2016 equally over 2016 and 2017, giving them a little more to play with in 2016 (and to clarify, another $6.5 million of cap room will come off the books when Lynch is either released/retired since he has a total cap number of $11.5 million in 2016, all of which currently remains counting).
But the Seahawks also still have a few other needs to fill that they might not be able to assume they can do solely in the draft — notably, sign or re-sign a fullback or two (Derrick Coleman and Will Tukuafu remain free agents), possibly add another running back and also sign or re-sign a backup quarterback (Tarvaris Jackson?) The Seahawks also down the road may want to extend contracts for a few of their own players, notably receiver Doug Baldwin, though that wouldn’t likely come until after the player acquisition phase of the off-season is completed.
The big unknown is what Clady’s value would be after missing most or all of two of the last three seasons due to injury and with his own team making moves to supplant him in the starting lineup (notably signing former Seahawk Russell Okung). Conversely, Clady’s current contract has averaged just over $10 million a season. How much less than that will be accept?
Seattle, meanwhile, has seemed content to not want to spend much on the offensive line in free agency, and currently has a total salary cap commitment to the line in 2016 of just $8.7 million, by far the lowest in the NFL.
There aren’t a ton of teams that appear to have as much of a need at left tackle as Seattle, which at the moment appears willing to let former right tackle Garry Gilliam and free agent signee Bradley Sowell battle it out in training camp to take over for Okung. More reinforcements, though, could come in the draft, though that’s also true for any team that might want to consider signing Clady (at least five players who could be left tackles are generally considered as possible first-rounders, including Laremy Tunsil, generally considered likely to go No.1 overall to Tennessee).
So yes, a lot of moving parts at play here. But before anything gets set into motion the Broncos will have to decide what to do with Clady.