“It just brought me back to that energy of the 2012 draft,” John Schneider said of the media coverage surrounding NFC West and the Seahawks’ 2022 draft prospects. Still, the Seattle GM’s pre-draft comments are expected to carry a “READ THE SMALL FEATURES” warning.
Now 10 years after 2012, the draft and the 2022 season should be viewed with more patience. This season should be filled with a tolerance and stoicism that extends to the quarterback position, whether it’s Geno Smith, Drew Lock or a rookie pick under center.
Why? Well, 2012 saw a young team flourish together, while 2022 is a radically different proposition from a talent and cap perspective.
The positive of losing franchise quarterback Russell Wilson is the cap space created by removing his big contact from the books, freeing up the team to spend that money on the rest of the roster. Wilson’s last contract signed with the team took an annual average of 18.6% off the cap.
However, the Wilson trade left Seattle with $26 million in dead money in 2022, or 11.97% of its cap. In total, the Seahawks have a staggering 20.53% of their cap occupied by dead money. It’s fourth in the league (the Falcons lead the league with 29.84%). In 2023, Wilson’s dead money will be completely wiped off the books.
Therefore, financially speaking, Seattle’s purchasing power in the next offseason will be much greater. In 2023, Spotrac estimates the cap space of the organization’s top 51 at $70,133,287; Over The Cap has it at $86,463,328. In terms of players the Seahawks will want to re-sign, DK Metcalf is the obvious big name. Poona Ford, Rashaad Penny and Cody Barton could also win new offers. The extra money of not having a franchise quarterback will be felt even if all of those players are retained.
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Existing veteran player contracts are no different from 2023 to 2012. Seattle’s two highest contracts for 2023 are Jamal Adams (8.23% of the cap, per Over The Cap) and Quandre Diggs (8.22%) . In 2012, Seattle’s top earners were paid the same, although there was the absence of a true elite contract. Russell Okung accounted for 7.4%, Sidney Rice 6.8% and Zach Miller 5.8%.
The 2012 roster saw Russell Wilson’s third-round rookie contract hit the books. The highest paid quarterback was free agent Matt Flynn. According to Over The Cap, Flynn’s salary was just 3.3% of the cap this season. The ex-Packer’s annual average as a percentage of the cap was 5.4%.
Meanwhile, the 2022 roster hasn’t been replenished with young talent even close to 2012 level.
The 2012 campaign was preceded by nine draft picks in 2010, four of which came in the top 120 – three in the top 100, three in the top 75 and two in the top 15. Seattle’s 2011 class included nine other picks repechage, including four in the top 120, three in the top 100 and two in the top 75.
The 2012 draft itself then contained 10 picks: five in the top 120, three in the top 100, three in the top 75 and one in the top 15.
For 2022, the Seahawks have eight picks, including five in the top 120, four in the top 100, three in the top 75 and one in the top 15. However, the trade that brought Adams from the Jets in 2020 resulted in a lack assets for the 2021 draft.
All of this means that the 2023 season is when Seattle will be in a better position to compete. Next year’s financial benefits and a bigger roster should allow the Seahawks to be more effective at protecting and carrying a smaller quarterback than in 2022.