The Seahawks will face some challenging cap situations over the next few months. Beat writer Bob Condotta explains how they could — but likely won't — get Kam Chancellor off the books early, and the chances of Duane Brown holding out again, as he did for seven games with the Texans last season.
Time for another Seahawks mailbag (and as always, questions can be submitted via email at email@example.com, or via Twitter at @bcondotta).
Q: My question is about Duane Brown. He held out 7 games last year because he was unhappy with his contract. As of right now, he still has the same contract. I assume that the Seahawks will negotiate a new contract before training camp but if it falls through, couldn’t we expect another holdout?
A: You are correct that as of the NFL Draft, there had been no apparent talks yet between the Seahawks and Brown. But I would read nothing into that. It has usually been the Seahawks’ M.O. to wait until after the draft to really begin working on contract extensions for future seasons (there have been a couple of exceptions, but most have occurred after the draft). I would expect that to be the case here, as well, that the Seahawks were merely waiting until after they had basically put together the roster for 2018 before worrying about doing things for beyond 2018. Brown says he wants to stay in Seattle, the Seahawks say they want to keep him, so I’d imagine it will work out.
But if it doesn’t, I don’t think Brown will hold out. As Brown has said a few times, he had some specific grievances with the Texans and I think he mostly just wanted out of Houston unless he got a pretty crazy deal that would make it worth it to stay.
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He doesn’t have that kind of history with the Seahawks. Also, the worst-case scenario for Brown is that he would play out the season for $9.75 million and then become an unrestricted free agent. And while he’d be 33, if he played as he did last season, he’d still have a lot of value on the free market.
It’s also worth remembering Brown lost almost $4.5 million due to holding out last year. I’d doubt he wants to do that again. I also doubt he’d want to hold out for a second time in two years with a different team — that wouldn’t really help his marketability elsewhere if he were to begin to think he might have to play for another team in 2019.
I also think Seattle is going to be highly-motivated to get something done with Brown, for whom they gave up a 2018 third-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick to Houston to get.
While “making the trade look good” didn’t seem to matter much to the Seahawks when it came to re-signing Sheldon Richardson, I think Brown is a little different deal.
When Seattle acquired Brown, it was to fill a really specific and valuable role as the left tackle and with the idea that he would do so for a few years to come. I think Richardson was always regarded as more of a “wait and see” thing when it came to his long-term future as opposed to Brown, of whom GM John Schneider said on the day he was acquired that the hope was he would finish his career with the Seahawks. I think that’s still the safe bet.
A: Yes, they could. As salary cap maven Joel Corry — a former agent who now writes for CBSSports.com — broke it down recently: “Seattle’s cap charge for Chancellor (in 2018) would balloon to $19.5 million (from $14.5 million) by releasing him while acknowledging that the injury will prevent his return. It would be composed of the $7.5 million in signing bonus proration from the final three contract years and the two injury guarantees (which total $12 million for the next two season, of $6.8 and $5.2). Guarantees from future contract years accelerate into the current year when a player is released. Making Chancellor a post-June 1 designation, which would require waiting until the 2018 league year begins and letting the $6.8 million become fully guaranteed, would allow the Seahawks to take the cap hit over two years. Seattle’s cap charge would be $14.5 for the upcoming league year and $5 million in 2019 because of the delay in the acceleration of the signing bonus proration from the final two contract years.”
So yes, they could still take it all this year.
But I doubt they want to at this point.
Seattle has $12.8 million in cap space at the moment, according to OvertheCap.com, which isn’t a whole lot since the Seahawks need to keep some available for all that may happen in 2018 — guys going on Injured Reserve, etc. Also, Seattle wants to have a little flexibility to sign guys down the road. As we’ve seen in just the last 24 hours with the agreements with the likes of Dadi Nicolas and Keenan Reynolds, the Seahawks are still making moves. The outside perception may be that Seattle is in total rebuild mode and playing for the future, but I don’t think Pete Carroll thinks that, and I think he’d still like to be able to do what may need to be done to field the best team possible in 2018.
Seattle also is in pretty good shape cap wise for 2019 already. Again according to OvertheCap.com, Seattle has $67.2 million in space for 2019, more than all but three other teams. True, some possible extensions could eat into that — Brown, Earl Thomas, Frank Clark to name the three most obvious. But that’s more at this point in a season than any time since I’d imagine at least 2012.
Also, as Corry noted, there are some reasons for letting this play out. Specifically, if Chancellor were to pass a physical.
As Corry also wrote a few months ago: “In the event he did make a recovery, the 2019 injury guarantee wouldn’t be an issue and Seattle would have the option to release him before the $5.2 million became fully guaranteed in February 2019. The cap hit would be $5 million with the guarantee out of the picture and $10.2 million if there’s still an obligation for it. Either way, Seattle would be getting cap relief because Chancellor’s 2019 cap number is $13 million.”
So for all of those reasons, I don’t see Seattle making any really quick move here with Chancellor.
As for where things are headed with Chancellor, he is expected to have some more scans in June to see if he could get medically cleared to play after suffering a neck/nerve issue last November against Arizona.
Chancellor recently took to Instagram to indicate that scan will tell a lot about what the future holds.
“After this exam, God will direct me on which way to go. He always has, always will. I listen, and I follow. ???????????? #Enforcer #ThereYouHaveIt #AnyMoreQuestions???,” Chancellor wrote.
Does that mean he might retire?
That would help the Seahawks greatly — as detailed here, that’d save $12 million against the cap. But it’s hard to imagine Chancellor just walking away from $12 million. Instead, he might be foreshadowing a possible renegotiation of some sort.
As Corry concluded back then “there’s no easy way around this thing.”