The Seahawks did some anticipated housekeeping Tuesday, perhaps a signal of a breakthrough in the pursuit of DE Jadeveon Clowney — or to welcome his successor in the Seahawks’ desperate attempt to fix a passive pass rush.
The NFL also did some anticipated housekeeping Tuesday: As the traditional beacon for the “more is better” school of sports economics, owners officially voted to expand playoffs for the 2020 post-season — presuming there is one — that adds two more teams, one per conference, and reduces by one the number of first-round byes.
First the Seahawks: They saved a combined $5.1 million against the salary cap by waiving TE Ed Dickson ($3 million) and FS Tedric Thompson ($2.13 million), the club announced.
Overthecap.com calculated that the Seahawks began the day with about $11.3 million left under the cap, not counting the acquisitions of free agents WR Phillip Dorsett and DE Bruce Irvin. Dorsett’s one-year cost against the cap is modest, according to ESPN’s Field Yates Tuesday: $877,500, while Irvin’s one-year deal has yet to be reported.
So the clearing of accounting entries make it stand to reason that something is happening, but imminence was unknown Tuesday afternoon.
Dickson, 32, was entering the final season of a three-year, $10.7 million deal after a knee injury kept him out of all of 2019. He played 10 games in 2018, catching 10 passes for 143 yards and three touchdowns. He was not expected to return.
Neither was Thompson, 25, once the Seahawks allowed him to seek a trade a few weeks ago following labrum surgery on his shoulder. He was put on the injured reserve list Oct. 30 after it became clear Thompson was over-matched as a starting free safety. The Seahawks traded for Quandre Diggs Oct. 23 to solve the problem.
A fourth-round pick in 2017 out of Colorado, Thompson had a lot of pressure to succeed Earl Thomas, but managed only 16 career starts in 29 games.
The Seattle ’17 draft has produced only three starters, CB Shaquill Griffin (third round) and two seventh-rounders, RB Chris Carson and No. 3 WR David Moore.
At the league level, the new 14-team playoff format, approved via teleconference based on a new collective bargaining agreement barely agreed to by the players March 15, works this way:
The AFC and NFC wild card games on the first weekend (Jan. 9-10, 2021) will feature the two seed hosting the seven, the three seed hosting the six, and the four seed hosting the five. Gone is the first-round bye for the second seed, meaning being No. 1 in the conference is an even greater advantage.
Three-quarters of the owners had to approve, but it’s unlikely there was a single nay because the extra playoff game, plus the pursuit for the new berths that could involve half the league, enhances the industry’s value to networks and streaming services in future contracts.
The standard complaint upon expanding a playoff format is that it dilutes the quality of the field. But the NFL had a ready answer.
According to NFL.com, since 1990, when the playoffs expanded from 10 to 12 teams, 44 of the 60 teams that would have claimed the seventh seeds had winning records, including 10 different 10-win teams. Only the 1990 Dallas Cowboys would have made the playoffs with a losing record over that span in a 14-team format.
The move to 14 means 43.7 percent of NFL teams would qualify for the postseason, compared to 33.3 percent in MLB (33.3), 51.6 in NHL and 53.3 in NBA.
One of the fan bases least likely to complain about dilution would be Seattle’s, mainly because in the first year of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider regime in 2010, the Seahawks’ 7-9 record was good enough to win the NFC Worst and host the defending Super Bowl champions in the first round.
Since the 41-36 upset triumph included the immortal BeastQuake by Marshawn Lynch, it is likely that silence over the change shall stand astride over Puget Sound.