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NFL Seattle Seahawks

NFL Salary Cap Increase Isn’t All Good News for Seattle Seahawks

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL salary cap increasing from about $123 million to $130 million, teams league wide can breathe a sigh of relief. Except for the Seattle Seahawks, that is. The reigning Super Bowl champions will have to decide what they want to do with the 19 players whose contracts are expiring this offseason. GM John Schneider will be tested this spring.

While the Seahawks’ current salary-cap space is $5 million, there’s no way they can feasibly re-sign all of their players with expiring contracts. They’ll have to part ways with familiar faces and welcome new ones.

Fortunately for the Seahawks’ offense, the front office doesn’t have to worry about the quarterback position. Not yet at least. Russell Wilson still has one more year on his rookie deal until he is allowed to negotiate an extension with the team.

While parting ways with Marshawn Lynch because of his massive contract would be a practical move financially, this scenario seems highly unlikely mainly because of the running back’s production over the years. The Seahawks could decide to go with the cheaper Christine Michael, who makes about $6 million less than Lynch, but the front office would be taking a risk here.

Concerning the fullback situation, the Seahawks need to keep Michael Robinson. Analysts can’t deny his productiveness with the Seahawks. The 2011 Pro Bowler led the way for Lynch for much of the Seahawks historic 2013 campaign.

Zach Miller has been a stud for the Seahawks offensively during his three-year stint with the team. However, the aging tight end is already 28, which could concern the front office going forward. The Seahawks might be able to replace Miller with a talented free agent or a high-caliber draft pick if Luke Willson’s production continues to increase. After all, it’s well-known that Pete Carroll wants players who are going to stick around for a while.

The Seahawks’ wide receiver spot is concerning in that Seattle has tied up most of their allocated funds in two wide receivers who were injured for the majority of the 2013 season. Yes, I’m talking about both of you, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice.

On the flip side, Golden Tate, the most productive Seattle wide receiver this past season, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. If the Seahawks do indeed cut Rice, which wouldn’t be astonishing to anyone, it would free up about $7 million in cap space. That money could go towards re-signing either Tate or Doug Baldwin.

Further evidence suggests that Rice will be cut because the Seahawks recently signed CFL receiver Chris Matthews. At 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, this receiver has the size the Seahawks are looking for. Matthews was the 2012 CFL Rookie of the Year after catching 81 passes for 1,192 yards in 2012. The Seahawks should be in good shape if they’re able to add another big wide receiver to the mix come draft day.

Keeping an eye on offensive lineman Michael Bowie will be imperative when the Seahawks decide what to do with their offensive line. Bowie started nine games at right tackle this past season and could be a key weapon in the years ahead for a powerful running game. The best part is that Bowie only gets paid just over $500,000.

Keeping the blind side protector Russell Okung will be a smart decision on the Seahawks’ part if they want to keep succeeding in the run game department. The only issue with Seattle’s offensive line is the fact that they need to re-sign Breno Giacomini. The massive offensive tackle played a major part in Seattle’s success offensively this past season.

The Seahawks’ defensive line with see the most movement before the 2014 regular season commences. Re-signing Michael Bennett, arguably their best defensive lineman last season, should be Seattle’s top priority. Bennett recorded 8.5 sacks and even forced a fumble last season. It would be a shame for the Seahawks to let that talent go to waste.

Both K.J. Wright and Malcolm Smith are entering the final year of their respective contracts. This means that one of them could be signed to a contract extension while the other might part ways with the team to set up a possible draft pick.

The Seahawks head into the offseason with many questions. Who will they re-sign? Can they win the Super Bowl again with a new-look roster? All of these questions, and more, will be answered in the coming months.

Sam Horn is a Seattle Seahawks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @samhorn7 and “Like” him on Facebook.