In his latest installment of the Seahawks mailbag, Bob Condotta also enlists the help of a former agent to determine the impact on the Seahawks of Washington's lack of an income tax, and much more.
The questions kept on coming, so it’s time for another Seahawks mailbag.
As always, we are accepting more at email@example.com or @bcondotta on Twitter.
Q: Because the state (of Washington) doesn’t have an income tax, does that make it (a) more attractive state for a professional athlete to work in?
A: I’m going to confine my answer to the Seahawks.
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As background, Washington is indeed one of four states that have NFL teams that have no state income tax, the others being Texas, Tennessee and Florida (Nevada will be a fifth once the Raiders move).
As I often do when seeking advice on NFL financial matters, I asked former NFL agent-turned-CBSSports.com writer Joel Corry if he thought state income tax — or lack thereof — played a role in players’ decisions.
“It can matter in really big deals,” Corry said. “We had John Randle’s tax guy run net projections for Minnesota versus Florida when he flirted with the Dolphins before returning the Vikings in 1998 as transition player (Randle signed with the Seahawks in 2001 and played through 2003). Ndamukong Suh’s people did the same thing with interested teams when he was a free agent in 2015.”
So does that mean players make sure that the offers come out equal?
“Yes,” Corry said. “The gross for an equivalent deal after taxes in California would be greater than anywhere else since the tax rate is 13.3 percent with that kind of money.”
Many players don’t have a ton of choices anyway, or they get one that stands out above the rest of the pack either in money, playing time and fit or both.
For veterans who have been with one team for a while and already made a lot of money, sometimes they’d rather just stay put if all things are equal. Also, players get paid in weekly installments during the season, and have to pay taxes on their salary based on the state in which that week’s game was played (SI.com had a really good story last year on how complicated this can all be, with where a team trains also factoring in, meaning if the team holds training camp in a state that is different from where it plays).
The Seahawks also haven’t been big players in free agency of late, anyway.
Every little bit helps, to be sure. But my sense is also that if a team really wants a player — and/or a player really wants to play for a certain team — they’ll find a way to make it work, state income tax or not.
A: No. Wilson is an established top-tier NFL QB in the prime of his career. It’s maybe the hardest thing to find in all of American professional team sports.
If you can win now, do it, and worry about the future later. For all the talk of Wilson’s contractual future, the Seahawks still have most/all the leverage. If they want to keep him, they can. Pete Carroll is 67 and has three years left on his contract. I don’t think they are in rebuilding mode right now.
A: Yeah they were definitely happy with the progress of Jacob Martin as the year progressed. A sixth-round pick out of Temple, Martin had three sacks to tie for third on the team. They all came in the last seven games of the season when he saw the majority of his playing time (he saw 109 of his 225 snaps for the season in the last five games, via ProFootballReference.com).
“I think you could see Jacob Martin help us a lot,” Carroll said at the end of the season.
Reed no doubt took a big step last season with 10 sacks. But Reed and Martin play different positions, so I’m not sure how much I’d make a comparison other than that many NFL players need a year or two to really find their way in the league. Martin’s play at the end of the year was no doubt promising, and I think he factors heavily in Seattle’s plans going forward.
A: Yeah I think they like it quite a bit. Chris Carson is coming off a 1,000-yard season and for all the discussion about Rashaad Penny, he had the best yards-per-carry average on the team at 4.9. True, you can argue “small sample size” since he had just 85 carries. He needs to show he can be durable. But he had a nice stretch in the second half of the season when he gained 267 yards on 39 carries spread out over five games (6.8 yards per carry) before again being hurt when he suffered a knee injury.
The Seahawks like that as a 1-2 punch heading into next season, and with each on rookie contracts, it helps the salary cap greatly to have those two guys at the top of the depth chart.
Carroll referred to it as exactly that last week at the NFL combine.
“A one-two punch,” Carroll said. “And I don’t know who’s one and who’s two, it doesn’t matter to me. I thought both guys did a really good job this year. … They’re not the same, their running styles are different, but there’s plenty of room for both of those guys, so I’m excited for both of them.”
The Seahawks signed Bo Scarbrough late last season, and he projects to be the third tailback. C.J. Prosise is also back for the last year of his rookie deal, and if he can stay healthy — admittedly a big if — could be the third-down back. J.D. McKissic could, as well, if he is re-signed. He’s a restricted free agent but he’s not likely to be tendered and will become a UFA. But you’d imagine he’d be back if Seattle wants him. So that’s five right there.
Mike Davis will be an unrestricted free agent and I’d doubt he’d be back. He made $1.237 million last year, and if he were to get that much or more this year he’d be the highest-paid running back on the team while being ticketed to likely be the third tailback or the third-down back. My sense is he will get that much or more on the open market and the Seahawks won’t match it.
I’d imagine the Seahawks would add an undrafted free agent or two and maybe a cheap veteran if one is available. But I don’t see them making a big splash to add to that group this year.
A: Great question. I’d imagine there will be a few players the Seahawks will have on their list that, if they fall to 21, they might want to take. But they may all be players they don’t really anticipate actually falling there. I can’t say I know if Sweat — who played at Mississippi State — is one of those, but he certainly fits the profile of what they need as a five-technique defensive end you could pair with Frank Clark. “As quick off the snap as any edge rusher in this class,” writes the Lindy’s Pro Football Draft.
But this is also regarded as a deep year for edge rushers. Pro Football Weekly gave this year’s class an A in its draft preview — which along with defensive tackle was the only position group to get an A — writing “this year could be one of the better bounties in recent memory.”
So this is a good year for Seattle to have a need up front and also hoping to move down and get more picks. The Seahawks may see that they can get a good edge rusher at 28 or something and get an extra pick or two in the process.
A: I doubt it. The Seahawks have always shown a willingness to bring back players. But last year felt like a year when they began moving on from the core group that got to the Super Bowls. Seattle offered Irvin a deal when he was released at midseason last year. But that was when Seattle had an immediate need for pass rushing and figured maybe Irvin could help out in a pinch.
Irvin will be 32 in November. While Seattle will add some veterans in free agency, my hunch is that ship may have sailed. But we’ll see. Free agency will be interesting no matter how big of a player the Seahawks are.