A significant deadline for the Seattle Seahawks passed this past Friday when Kam Chancellor’s $6.8 million base salary for 2018 became fully guaranteed, making it all the more likely that the Pro Bowl strong safety will remain with Seattle for the time being even with his football future in doubt because of a neck injury.
With that one in the rearview mirror, here’s a look at some upcoming dates and events on the NFL’s offseason calendar that will or could be of importance to the Seahawks:
Feb. 20-March 6: The two-week window for teams to designate franchise or transition tag players.
The Seahawks have 16 players who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, most notably tight end Jimmy Graham, defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson and wide receiver Paul Richardson. Sheldon Richardson is the player among those three that Seattle might need the most, but the cost of the franchise tag for a defensive tackle — projected to be around $14 million — may be prohibitive considering his production and Seattle’s cap constraints. Kicker Olindo Mare in 2010 was the last Seahawk to play on the franchise tag. If they use it this year, expect it to happen much closer to the end of that two-week window than the start.
Feb. 27-March 5: The NFL scouting combine.
There’s a lot more that goes on at the combine than the top college prospects for the upcoming draft being put through the paces. Agents and NFL teams convene in Indianapolis for the week, making this a time when the framework for some free-agent deals tend to be put in place. Plus, coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider have yet to speak with the media since the end of the season. Both typically hold news conferences in Indianapolis, which could mark their first public comments on the drastic overhaul of Seattle’s coaching staff.
March 14: The start of the new league year and the official start of free agency.
The Seahawks are currently projected to have only around $14 million in cap space. They could and likely will create more space by releasing some higher-priced veterans (cornerback Jeremy Lane is one obvious choice). They could also extend someone like left tackle Duane Brown, free safety Earl Thomas or linebacker K.J. Wright and thereby lower the player’s 2018 cap number. But as it stands now, the Seahawks might not have the cap space to be much more than bargain shoppers in free agency, especially if they spend big to retain any of their own free agents.
March 14-18: The window for Seattle to exercise or decline center Justin Britt’s option bonus.
The three-year, $27 million extension Britt signed last summer includes a $5 million option bonus for the 2020 season. If it’s picked up — which is expected — Britt receives a $5 million bonus right away and his contract runs through 2020. Declining the option would void the final season of Britt’s deal, making him a free agent after 2019, and that $5 million would instead be added to Britt’s 2018 base salary, bumping it from $2.75 million to $7.75 million.
March 18: Defensive lineman Michael Bennett’s $3 million roster bonus is due.
That could make this something of a soft deadline to either trade or release Bennett if the Seahawks are so inclined. A trade would obviously be preferable to releasing him and getting nothing in return, but there’s no guarantee there will be a market. By trading or releasing Bennett, Seattle would incur a little over $5.2 million in dead-money charges while saving the team just under $2.2 million against the 2018 cap. ESPN
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