Ranking Seahawks’ five biggest 2020 salary cap bargains: Chris Carson, D.K. Metcalf are both steals

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The Seattle Seahawks are paying big bucks to a handful of big names as they enter the 2020 season. Five, in particular, are set to earn more than $10 million this year, with star quarterback Russell Wilson leading the pack thanks to his $31M cap hit — big enough to account for more than 15 percent of the Seahawks’ entire 2020 salary cap.

Even though Wilson is joined by linebacker Bobby Wagner ($14.75M), left tackle Duane Brown ($12.56M), wide receiver Tyler Lockett ($12.25M) and linebacker K.J. Wright ($10M) as players with cap hits at or above the $10M mark in 2020, Seattle is actually chock-full of inexpensive starters on both sides of the ball.

Here are five of their top salary cap bargains going into the 2020 campaign:

All cap figures are courtesy of Spotrac.

1. RB Chris Carson

2020 salary cap hit: $2.15 million

No, running backs don’t always deserve huge salaries. Yes, the Seahawks have often deployed at least another RB on a regular basis. And yes, Carson is coming off a late-season hip injury. But everything else suggests he’s massively underpaid considering his value to Seattle’s offense. Much like Dalvin Cook with the Minnesota Vikings, he’s arguably been the most integral piece of their strategy over the last two seasons, even though this will always, officially, be Russell Wilson’s team as long as he’s under center.

After back-to-back 1,100-yard rushing seasons and an increased workload as a pass catcher in 2019, he figures to be just as active in 2020, especially with Rashaad Penny likely to open the year on the sidelines. And yet his cap hit would suggest he’s comparable to rotational reserves like Giovani Bernard ($4.76M), Duke Johnson ($4.1M) and Jalen Richard ($3.6M). No way. Carson is bigger and better — an old-school No. 1 in an offense that wants to run the ball — and deserves at least a few million more.

2. WR D.K. Metcalf

2020 salary cap hit: $1 million

Metcalf’s team-friendly cap hit is courtesy of his rookie contract, but it’s especially team-friendly because of how much he exceeded expectations as a freshman. First-year wideouts are hit-or-miss starters, and Metcalf still has to improve his hands after catching fewer than 60 percent of his 2019 targets, but you could do a heck of a lot worse at the No. 2 WR spot, let alone at this price. A downfield threat despite his big body type, Metcalf seems like the kind of guy who’ll become even more of a Wilson favorite as the years go on. Even if he simply replicated his rookie numbers (58-900-7) in 2020, he’d remain a massive bargain.

3. CB Shaquill Griffin

2020 salary cap hit: $2.32 million

Young, productive corners don’t come cheap, but the Seahawks have managed to get rock-solid production on the outside for pennies. Griffin is one of the main reasons for that. The 24-year-old didn’t log a single interception in 2019, but he was sturdy in every other part of the game, turning in arguably the best coverage grades of his career. If Quinton Dunbar ends up starting opposite him in place of Tre Flowers, Griffin stands to get an additional bump in takeaway opportunities. Either way, as a more-than-serviceable starting CB, he’s hardly putting a dent in Seattle’s wallet.

4. S Quandre Diggs

2020 salary cap hit: $5.16 million

Diggs is the most expensive Seahawk on this list, and he’s also played just five total games in Seattle after arriving via trade with the Detroit Lions during the 2019 season. But if his performance in that brief stretch (21 tackles, 3 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR) is any indication of what’s to come, he’s worth a lot more than the $5M he’ll get as part of a three-year, $18.6M deal originally signed in Motown. Diggs just turned 27, he’s now had three straight years with at least three picks, and he’s also got positional versatility that fits perfectly in Seattle’s secondary. It won’t be surprising if he gets a new deal before his 2021 contract year.

5. TE Will Dissly

2020 salary cap hit: $912,567

Seattle didn’t pay Greg Olsen to sit on the sidelines, so Dissly’s short- and long-term role is uncertain. But $900K is chump change in NFL dollars, whereas Dissly still seems like an asset inside the organization. Injuries have plagued him over his first two seasons, limiting him to 10 total games, but the Washington product, who just turned 24, has been productive when healthy. Project his career numbers (31-418-6) over a full season, and you’re talking about a starting-caliber resume. That doesn’t include chemistry he’s already shown with Wilson, especially in the red zone. By 2021, this deal could look even better.

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