What would you do with $52 million?
Most of us aren't in charge of running NFL teams, but even so, one could reasonably question how the Seattle Seahawks have spent their money this offseason. The 49ers' chief rivals in the NFC West entered the offseason ranking among the top 10 teams in the league in available cap space, and frankly, what they have to show for it leaves plenty to be desired.
The 14 most expensive free agents the Seahawks have signed will combine for an approximate $52 million cap hit in 2020. Seattle clearly went the quantity over quality route, because it would appear that money could have been spent on considerably better players.
The Athletic's Ben Baldwin took it upon himself to graph Seattle's offseason expenditures and compare it to other free-agent signings throughout the NFL, specifically those who would have addressed what he believes to be the Seahawks' greatest needs. Though it's just theoretical, it shows how Seattle might have better distributed its ample cap space.
The Seahawks' true free agency expenses are the taller column on the left, which, in total, add up to essentially the same 2020 cap hit as the other three columns combined. As far as the other teams in the NFC West go, chances are they're glad Seattle didn't go the quality route.
Offensive line, in particular, has been a major weakness for the Seahawks over the last few seasons, and they chose to address that by signing B.J. Finney, Brandon Shell, Mike Iupati and Cedric Ogbuehi for a combined $11.7 million cap hit in 2020. As Baldwin displayed, Jack Conklin and Brian Bulaga -- both of whom are superior to any of the offensive linemen Seattle signed -- will account for a combined $12.8 million cap hit in 2020. That's a slight difference, but here's guessing that quarterback Russell Wilson wouldn't have minded getting some decent blindside protection for once.
Seattle ranked 30th in the NFL last season in adjusted sack rate, and that was with Jadeveon Clowney, who remains unsigned. Instead, they signed edge rushers Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa and Brandon Jackson for a combined $11 million cap hit in 2020, not to mention re-signing defensive tackle Jarran Reed for a $9.3 million cap hit in 2020. One could argue none of those players are worth the amount they'll cost, and it would appear they overspent on the edge rushers in particular, given what superior talents Shaq Lawson, Dante Fowler and Robert Quinn will count against the cap in 2020.
Reed's 2020 cap hit is the largest of any player the Seahawks have signed or re-signed in free agency, but it bumps up to $13.475 million in 2021. That's a lot of money spent on a player who was suspended six games last season for a violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, stemming from a 2017 domestic violence case in which Reed was accused of assault. A curious investment, indeed.
The Seahawks signed veteran receiver Phillip Dorsett for the veteran's minimum, and David Moore signed his tender for $2.1 million -- both of which could be great values. But the $10.2 million tight ends Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister will combine to count against the cap in 2020 sure looks like an overpay, considering what pass-catchers Robby Anderson, Randall Cobb and Emmanuel Sanders will cost in 2020 -- not to mention that Olsen has missed 18 games due to injury over the last three seasons combined.
The best move Seattle made this offseason might have been trading a fifth-round draft pick to Washington to acquire cornerback Quinton Dunbar. However, Dunbar's near-term future appears to be up in the air after he was arrested on armed robbery charges last week.
So, the Seahawks decided against re-signing their top free agent in Clowney, selected what many draft analysts viewed as a reach in drafting linebacker Jordyn Brooks in the first round, and the best value acquisition they made, they might not get any actual value out of. Perhaps that's why ESPN's Bill Barnwell ranked Seattle as having the seventh-worst offseason of all 32 NFL teams.
Ultimately, we won't be able to properly evaluate the Seahawks' offseason expenditures until we see the product on the field. But if Seattle falls off in the NFC West this year, their free-agency decisions likely will be criticized, and deservedly so.
The 49ers are the reigning NFC champs and have no reason to focus on anyone but themselves. But what could have been a scary offseason from a rivalry standpoint hasn't turned out to be nearly as frightening as it had the potential to be.
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