Time to address a few lingering Seahawks questions from news items of the past few days.
MYCHAL KENDRICKS HAS TO EARN EVERY PENNY
When it was revealed last week that linebacker Mychal Kendricks had signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks worth $4.5 million, the assumption was that there was very little, if any, guaranteed money since the team does not yet know if he will be available to play in 2019 — he will be sentenced in Pennsylvania on April 4 in connection to an insider trading charge.
The details of Kendricks’ contract were made public Tuesday and show that Kendricks indeed will have to earn every penny.
As reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Kendricks will get a $2 million non-guaranteed base salary, up to $1 million in separate playing time incentives, and then bonuses of $250,000 for being able to report to training camp and another $250,000 if he is on the roster Week 1, and then $125,000 for each game he is active.
Almost every contract signed this time of year includes a signing bonus, money the player gets immediately. But as you can see, Kendricks did not get a bonus, with all money contingent on him showing up for camp, making the roster and playing in games.
So there is no risk here for the Seahawks. Seattle also covered itself at linebacker by then re-signing K.J. Wright after Kendricks signed last week, meaning both of its primary weakside linebackers from last season are back in the fold.
Now to the question of how to use both players if Kendricks is available, especially if Barkevious Mingo also remains on the roster (which isn’t a given).
Kendricks, a second-round pick in 2012, will turn 29 in September and could well be in the plans at the WLB spot in 2020 and beyond, as well, if available. But first, to find out if he can play this season.
J.R. SWEEZY DID INDEED GET A BIT MORE THAN D.J. FLUKER
It was easy to think of guards J.R. Sweezy and D.J. Fluker as basically a matched set of players entering free agency given their histories and their value to the Seahawks last season.
But the market didn’t really perceive the two as equals, it appears.
Each signed last week, Fluker staying with the Seahawks on a two-year deal while Sweezy went to Arizona on a two-year contract with the Cardinals.
But with Sweezy’s contract now publicly available, it’s clear he got the better deal of the two.
One simple number tells you all you need to know — Sweezy got $3 million guaranteed at signing as part of a deal worth $9 million overall while Fluker got $1 million guaranteed at signing as part of a deal worth $6 million overall, each in the form of a signing bonus.
Sweezy also got higher base salaries, of $1.5 million in 2019 and $3.5 million in 2020, while Fluker got $850,000 in 2019 and $2 million in 2020.
Fluker also has more money tied up in per-game roster bonuses, meaning money he only gets if he’s healthy enough to play —- $775,000 to $468,750.
Why did Sweezy — who is 29 and almost exactly two years older than Fluker — get more?
Health may be the biggest reason — Sweezy played all but one game last season and while he did miss all of the 2016 season with a back injury he has otherwise played at least 14 games in every season since 2013.
Fluker, meanwhile, has played just 19 games the past two seasons and more than 12 just once in the past four.
Each, though, could well be on the street again next year — Fluker has a $3.5 million cap hit in 2020 with just $500,000 in dead money while Sweezy has a $5.5 million cap hit in 2020 with $1.5 million in dead money, meaning each is sort of looking at having one year assured and then the team saying “we’ll see” about the second year.
Seattle essentially traded Sweezy for Mike Iupati, who had been with Arizona since 2015 and signed with the Seahawks on a one-year deal. Iupati’s contract details also were revealed Tuesday by ESPN’s Brady Henderson, showing that Seattle did indeed save a little money in going the trade. Per Henderson, Iupati received a $1.25 million signing bonus, a guaranteed $1 million base salary and then $1 million in per-game roster bonuses and playing time incentives, with a max value of $3.25 million. So while Sweezy could make up to $6 million this season if he hits all incentives, the most Iupati can make is roughly half that, $3.25 million.
Money, as always, talks loudly.
WHY CAN MALIK MCDOWELL VISIT THE COWBOYS?
The news late Monday that Malik McDowell will visit with the Cowboys on Tuesday raised a few understandable questions from readers — mainly, how is this possible?
McDowell, recall, was Seattle’s 2017 first pick, a defensive lineman taken 35th overall out of Michigan State, but never played a down after suffering a head injury in an ATV accident — coach Pete Carroll referred to it as “a really bad concussion” — and being waived earlier this month.
McDowell was waived with a designation of being injured, which means that he couldn’t pass a physical to play at the time he was waived. McDowell was also waived as injured before the 2018 season, at which time he reverted to Seattle’s non-football injury reserve list. This time, he simply cleared waivers and became a free agent.
That makes McDowell free to do whatever, including meet with NFL teams — it was reported at the time that he wanted to continue to play.
But almost every free agent visit includes a physical, and that will be the key for McDowell going forward — whether he can prove to anyone that he’s healthy enough to play. The Seahawks obviously didn’t think he would be — and, as noted, twice waived him with the designation that he wasn’t healthy at the time of his waiving.
McDowell was due a four-year contract worth $6.9 million by being selected where he was in the draft. But once he cleared waivers that contract became void.
OvertheCap.com calculates that McDowell got paid $3.283 million by Seattle (he had a list $3.198 million signing bonus), so the Seahawks got out of more than half of what they owed McDowell by waiving him when they did (and there were some salary cap and legal considerations for not waiving him earlier). McDowell will still count $1.59 million against Seattle’s cap this season.
If a team were to take a flyer on McDowell it would undoubtedly be at the lowest-risk possible, close to, or if not at, the minimum, with little or any guaranteed.