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A View on How the Seahawks Will Deal with the Salary Cap Issues in 2012

Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.

To see about the entire NFC West – click HERE

Here’s the Seahawks breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.

Estimated Cap Space: $30-$35 million

Unrestricted Free Agents (16): Atari Bigby, Raheem Brock, Red Bryant, John Carlson, Heath Farwell, Justin Forsett, Anthony Hargrove, David Hawthorne, Leroy Hill, Marshawn Lynch, Matt McCoy, Paul McQuistan, Michael Robinson, David Vobora, Charlie Whitehurst, Jimmy Wilkerson

Restricted Free Agents (3): Mike Gibson, Steven Hauschka, Roy Lewis

In his first full season as a kicker in the National Football League, Hauschka was 25-of-30 on field goal attempts, with two of his five misses coming from beyond 50 yards, and had a respectable 26 touchbacks. Roy Lewis opened last season on the PUP list before starting one of ten games and recording half a sack in a nickel cornerback role. Both Hauschka and Lewis can expected a restricted free agent tender worth at least the minimum, $1.26 million “right of first refusal” level. Mike Gibson started eight games for the Seahawks in 2010 and was waived as part of the final cuts in early September. Re-signed later in the season as injuries hit the offensive line hard, Gibson was active for three games and could be back on the minimum tender, as well.

Franchise Tag Candidate: The Seahawks have four key unrestricted free agents –- Red Bryant, Marshawn Lynch, David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill. The player most likely to receive the franchise tag is Lynch. Acquiring Lynch was a half-year process for John Schneider in his first season as the Seahawks’ general manager, and Lynch has not disappointed. In 27 games as a Seahawk, Lynch has rushed for 1,777 yards and 18 touchdowns, and his physical style has helped change the perception that the Seahawks are a “finesse” team. Lynch took off in 2011, rushing for a career-high 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns behind a young and constantly reshuffled offensive line, ranking third in DYAR behind LeSean McCoy and Maurice Jones-Drew. The franchise tag for a running back is projected to be worth around $7.7 million in 2012. Bryant would be No. 2 on the franchise tag list, but the converted defensive tackle does not post the sack totals to warrant a one-year, guaranteed base salary of $10.6 million.

Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Cornerback Marcus Trufant took a pay cut last August and will likely have to do so again to spend a 10th season with his hometown team. The 31-year-old has struggled with back injuries in two of the last three seasons and does not fit the mold of the big, physical cornerback the team prefers. Releasing Trufant would free up $4.467 million in cap space, but more importantly, save $7.3 million in cash that could be spent retaining a few key free agents. One season after being a legitimate Comeback Player of the Year candidate, wide receiver Mike Williams had a disappointing season. Releasing Williams is unnecessary and unlikely right now, but the move would clear $3.425 million off the team’s salary cap.

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