Former NFL agent Joel Corry gave us some thoughts on those topics this week.
Will the Seahawks release Kam Chancellor anytime soon? What about new contracts for Frank Clark and Russell Wilson?
I caught up this week with former NFL agent Joel Corry, who now writes about salary cap issues for CBSSports.com and other sites, to get his thoughts on those three topics.
The Seahawks have something of a deadline this week with Chancellor, whose 2019 base salary of $5.2 million becomes fully guaranteed if he is still on the roster as of Friday.
But as Corry notes, “it’s a moot point’’ for now if Chancellor can’t pass a physical, which he likely can’t (Chancellor detailed his injury situation last fall, painting a pretty dire picture, after having posted to social media last July that he would not be able to play again).
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Because that salary, part of a three-year, $36 million deal Chancellor signed prior to the 2017 season, is fully guaranteed for injury, Seattle has to pay it if Chancellor can’t play again — and they also can’t cut him and not pay it. That Chancellor is due the money is also why he has not officially retired since to do so would be to give up any remaining money he is owed.
That the salary is guaranteed for injury leaves Seattle with few good options.
But Corry said all point to Chancellor remaining on the roster for now.
Chancellor is due to count $13 million against the salary cap in 2019 and $14.5 million in 2020. But as Corry notes “on the off chance he can pass a physical they could cut him with $5 million as the only cap charge.’’
That’s unlikely to happen, of course, but does maybe give some motivation for not making a move for now.
The other is that Seattle can save more against the cap by releasing Chancellor as a post-June 1 cut.
If he is cut prior to June 1, Seattle could save $8 million against the cap this year and $12 million in 2020 while taking dead money hits of $5 million and $2.5 million.
But as a post-June 1 cut, his dead money would be $2.5 million in 2019 and the savings $10.5 million (the 2020 numbers remain the same either way).
None of it is great, as Corry notes.
“Unless he can immediately pass a physical you are kind of stuck either way,’’ he said.
But waiting does provide a few better options that would seem to mean that for now, Chancellor will remain on Seattle’s roster.
It’s also worth noting, as OvertheCap.com pointed out, that receiver Tyler Lockett has a guarantee of $3.9 million for 2019 that also becomes guaranteed Friday. There’s obviously no reason to question that that will happen.
Clark is Seattle’s marquee impending free agent, rated this week by Pro Football Focus No. 4 among all NFL players who can become unrestricted free agents beginning March 13.
But Corry echoes the growing conventional wisdom that he thinks Clark will likely have been slapped with a franchise tag prior to then, assuring he stays in Seattle for at least the 2019 season and allowing the two sides to continue working toward a longer-term deal in the future (teams can place franchise tags on players beginning Feb. 19 through March 5).
“You’re almost going to have to franchise him based on the comments that (Clark’s agent) Erik Burkhardt made (to ESPN last fall) about not being afraid of the franchise tag and knowing the value of a pass rusher,’’ Corry said. “If I’m him, I’m not doing something like Danielle Hunter (who re-signed with Minnesota prior to last season to a five-year deal worth $14.4 million annually that was quickly regarded as a bargain for the Vikings and has turned out to be even more of one after he finished fourth in the NFL this year with 14.5 sacks). You’re almost going to have to franchise him.’’
Indeed, given that context, Burkhardt’s comment to ESPN last fall about Clark and the franchise tag is worth revisiting.
“Frank and I are not scared of the franchise tag,’’ Burkhardt said. “That’s going to come in at about $18 million next year for a D-end on a one-year, fully guaranteed deal. It’s what (Detroit’s Ziggy) Ansah and (Dallas’ Demacus) Lawrence have done. They get that top-of-the-market value for one year, and 12 months later will get their long-term deal as well. That’s winning.”
The three potential top free agents listed above Clark by PFF this week also are all edge players — Houston’s Jadaveon Clowney, Lawrence, and Kansas City’s Dee Ford.
All could be tagged. And Corry also says he thinks the agents of each could be waiting for one of the other to make the first move.
“They are all going to be kind of waiting for someone to re-set the market,’’ Corry said. “And the guy who goes last should use the other deals as a bench mark. That’s why I don’t think anyone wants to go first.’’
There also remains the issue of how committed the Seahawks are to wanting to give Clark the kind of deal it would likely take to sew him up for the long term right now — PFF estimated Clark’s value at five years, $87.5 million with $53 million guaranteed, which would make him the second-highest paid player on the team after Wilson.
Corry noted this is regarded as an especially strong draft for pass rushers, which could influence how Seattle deals with Clark right now.
“Maybe you go year to year with him,’’ Corry said. “If there is ever a year to get a pass rusher in the draft this is it. This year you could maybe get a guy in the mid-to-late 20s that most years goes in the mid-teens.’’
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported over the weekend that the Seahawks have yet to talk to Wilson about an extension of his contract, which runs through the 2019 season.
I wrote why that shouldn’t really be viewed as anything to worry about yet given that Seattle’s usual mode of operation on extensions is to get those done in the spring and summer after dealing with the free agency and, typically, the draft.
“It’s early,’’ Corry said. “They didn’t get a deal done until July last time anyway so I don’t think there is anything to read into that. I wouldn’t have expected it to really heat up until after the draft, anyhow. The NFL is a deadline-driven league and last time he set a deadline of training camp (and it got done then). ‘’
As for what happens then, Corry wrote an extensive piece about that last month.
But he reiterated he thinks it won’t be an easy negotiation for Seattle, in part because Wilson now has made money that sets him up for life and this time can wait to get what he really wants out of the deal, whether that is being made the highest-paid player in NFL history or potentially becoming a free agent.
“It’s a different dynamic now,’’ Corry said. “He’s made a whole lot of money since then (he signed a four-year, $87.5 million deal in 2015) so he can afford to be patient this time.’’