The Seahawks turned some heads by reportedly restructuring the contract of defensive lineman Shelby Harris on Wednesday, as first broken by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The move, according to Field Yates of ESPN, converts $6.54 million of Harris’ 2022 salary into a signing bonus and lowers his cap hit from $7.9 million to $4.7 million this season.
This now gives Seattle roughly $17 million in available cap space, per OverTheCap.com. Naturally, speculation has run rampant over the past few hours about the team’s reasoning for enacting such a move at this time, especially when it brings Seattle closer to the full $18.8 million salary carried by disgruntled Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield.
But while Harris’ restructure certainly enhances the possibility, it doesn’t necessarily mean Mayfield—or another recognizable figure—will be walking through the doors of the Virginia Mason Athletic Center anytime soon.
It also likely doesn’t mean anything in regards to receiver DK Metcalf’s ongoing extension talks with the franchise, which have potentially hit a snag with Metcalf absent from mandatory minicamp. Extensions, however, do not typically come with a significant—if any—uptick in current year pay; and even if Metcalf’s eventual long-term deal does include a 2022 raise, it’s highly doubtful Seattle would need an additional $3.6 million to make it happen.
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Instead, the timing of the move may simply be a matter of getting something done face-to-face before the team breaks for the summer. The Seahawks kicked off mandatory minicamp on Tuesday and will wrap things up on June 15, with five practice sessions scheduled in between. They will not reconvene in an official format until training camp begins in late July.
Contract negotiations can obviously take place remotely, but doing so in-person can often lead to quicker and more cordial resolutions. This was likely the goal for the Seahawks and the 30-year old Harris, who may still be in search of a Seattle-based home for the season ahead. Adding a cool $6.54 million to his bank account with one stroke of a ballpoint would certainly go a long way to helping him accomplish that.
It’s also a sign of respect from Seattle for a player it recently acquired via trade and has big plans for in 2022. Harris, who came over from the Broncos as part of the return for star quarterback Russell Wilson in March, is expected to play a significant role along the Seahawks’ defensive line as a pass-rushing big end.
Seattle is unlikely finished moving its money around as well. The organization may still opt to cut running back Chris Carson, who continues to work his way back from neck surgery last December. Moving on from Carson would net the Seahawks $4.6 million in salary cap savings.
This, or another similar move, would still be required if Seattle were to take on Mayfield’s salary in full via trade, which has reportedly been the biggest hangup in negotiations.