On Sunday, the Seahawks released two long-time starters in guard D.J. Fluker and center Justin Britt, which added over $12 million in cap space for the 2020 season, leaving Seattle with approximately $21 million of space (according to OvertheCap.com).
Seattle usually has a plan when making make moves like this, especially considering these cuts were made in such quick order after the NFL Draft. So, for what can the extra cap space be used?
Let's break it up into tiers based on likelihood.
Forget About It
Sign Cam Newton
This might seem like a ridiculous notion because well, it is. However, a few pundits have tied the Seahawks as a possible landing place for the former MVP quarterback. Of course, Russell Wilson's job is not even close to being in question, so this move would be strictly to be a backup to Wilson and maybe trade bait later in the season. In seven of his nine seasons in the league, the Auburn alum has tallied at least 3,300 passing yards. Newton certainly will receive less than his 2019 salary of $16.2 million but either way, the former Heisman Trophy winner would be the most expensive backup in the NFL and for a quarterback in Wilson who has never missed a game. Hard pass.
Sign Jason Peters
The former Philadelphia Eagle has a Hall of Fame resume at left tackle. After 16 seasons, Peters has accumulated nine Pro Bowls and two First-Team All-Pro selections. He would be welcome on almost any offensive line. However, the 2017 Super Bowl champion has played nearly his entire career on the left side, where the Seahawks have a Pro Bowler of their own in Duane Brown. The hole in Seattle is at right tackle, where Peters has not played since 2007 with Buffalo. Given his inexperience on the right side plus his age at 38 years old, Peters is unlikely to come to Seattle.
Extend Bradley McDougald
McDougald is in the last year of his second contract with the Seahawks. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer has been very productive in his three seasons in Seattle, being the starting strong safety for the majority of that time. In the last two seasons as the starter, he has racked up five interceptions along with 148 tackles. However, the Seahawks have options to succeed McDougald. Lano Hill will also be a free agent after the 2020 season but Marquise Blair is in just his second season. Quandre Diggs has experience playing strong safety and could move over to free up Blair for his more true position at free safety. Seattle did not draft a safety this past weekend, but may look to add in the near future to avoid paying McDougald.
Sign Markus Golden
Even after selecting two pass rushers in the draft, the Seahawks are still in need of help in that regard. Golden is coming off of a season where he totaled 10.0 sacks, 72 tackles, and 13 tackles for loss for the Giants. However, Golden has played his entire career in a 3-4 defensive scheme as an outside linebacker. It would be a big adjustment for Golden to play in this 4-3 defense and his production might suffer. Additionally, given Golden's double-digit sack production, he might come in overpriced.
Sign a Running Back
There are several mid-to-low level running backs still on the market. Carlos Hyde is coming off of a 1,000-yard season for the Houston Texans and remains unsigned. Frank Gore, who has quietly built a Hall of Fame resume, as well as Devonta Freeman and Lamar Miller, are all still without homes for 2020 among a host of other backs. Seattle drafted Miami running back DeeJay Dallas over the weekend, hoping he can hold down the fort as Chris Carson's backup if Rashaad Penny is still not healthy. Chris Carson also enters his final year on his rookie contract and Dallas may be groomed for bigger things down the road. With five running backs currently on the roster, it's not necessary to spend significant cap space on the position in free agency.
Extend Chris Carson
Speaking of running backs, Carson is one of only seven running backs in NFL history to record a 1,000-yard season after being selected in the seventh round of the draft. He enters the last year of his contract coming off of yet another season ending injury. The former Oklahoma State product amassed 2,381 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in the last two seasons. However, paying a running back big bucks after his rookie contract is certainly a cautionary tale, especially with one with as much of an injury history as Carson has. You don't have to look far for examples on why not to do this, no matter the running back's caliber (see Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson).
Trade for a disgruntled Jacksonville Jaguar
Stop if you have heard this before - a member of the Jaguars wants out and has not been shy about it. First, former Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, despite his best efforts, is still in Jacksonville. With the franchise tag, Ngakoue is owed about $17.8 million this season. Seattle trading for such a player would almost exhaust the cap space but at the same time, address a need still present after the draft. He has never had a season under 8.0 sacks in his four years in the league and would be the instant alpha dog on the defensive line.
Additionally, there is another player down in Duval who wants out. Running back Leonard Fournette is on the trade block as well. Fournette is also under contract for just one more season, at $8.6 million against the cap. The former LSU Tiger turned in two 1,000-yard seasons in his first three years in the league. Durability is the only question with Fournette and Seattle is already dealing with that in Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny. However, Fournette would form a lethal combo with the likes of Carson.
Sign Jadeveon Clowney
The dead horse that has been constantly beaten this offseason in the NFL is the situation regarding Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Clearly, he enjoyed himself in Seattle and wants to return but everyone has a price = Seattle seems to have not met his. However, the longer he goes unsigned, the lower the price may drop. Seattle is still the ideal landing spot for Clowney and given the newfound cap space, they are able to make another run at him, be it at $17 to $19 million for one of the premier defensive ends in the NFL.
Extending Quinton Dunbar
Yes, Dunbar has yet to play a snap for the Seahawks. The cornerback was acquired via trade from the Redskins for a fifth round pick. The former Florida Gators receiver allowed a 68.4 passer rating when targeted last season, which was better than each of Seattle's starting corners in 2019. He is not yet 28 years old and looks to be continually improving and entering his prime. He could be a Pro Bowl cornerback in 2020 and it would behoove Seattle to sign him long term before he gets more expensive.
Go For It
Sign Everson Griffen
Griffen is a fine consolation prize if Seattle is unable to sign Clowney. In some ways, it might make more sense. The four-time Pro Bowler will be far less expensive than Clowney, likely in the $10-13 million range given his age. Plus, he was more productive than Clowney in 2019, with 8.0 sacks compared to Clowney's 3.0. Being 32 years old will drive down the price, but his production has hardly wavered, averaging 9.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in the last six seasons. Signing Griffen would mean bringing in a proven, Pro Bowl-level pass rusher while also having a few bucks left for other needs, including possibly signing a nose tackle such as Damon Harrison. This move seems to make the most sense out of the possible scenarios.